…knock a little louder baby!

After yesterday’s R.E.M. feature, mention was made of “the other band from Athens, GA” and that’s all the motivation we need to haul out one of the all-time great summer Friday night dance songs, inspired in part by an actual shack on Jefferson Road, not all that far from the University of Georgia.

Formed one October night in 1976 when brother and sister, Cindy and Ricky Wilson, and some of their musician friends shared a few specialty ‘Flaming Volcano’ cocktails at a local Chinese Restaurant, which led to an impromptu jam session, the resulting ensemble began to practice in earnest, and played their first real gig at a Valentine’s Day party the following year.

Rounded out by Kate Pierson, Keith Strickland and (cowbell player and vocalist) Fred Schneider, the band went for a quirky, New Wave combination of surf and dance music that was characterized by Ricky Wilson’s oddball guitar tunings and Schneider’s  “sprechgesang” vocals (featuring rapid, loose, speech-like articulation).  Considering their predilection for “thrift-shop chic,” they decided to name themselves after Southern slang for a beehive hairdo, which to some resembles the nose cone of a B-52.

Quickly gaining a local following, the B-52s soon began to take road trips to New York for weekend gigs at such venues as CBGBs and, with their outrageous performances and “stream of consciousness” songs, attracted a following there as well. “We always appealed to people outside the mainstream,” said Pierson, “and I think more people feel outside the mainstream these days.”

The biggest crowd-pleaser in those days became their first (independently released) single in 1978, the garage party classic “Rock Lobster”.  A record deal soon followed, and their debut album, The B-52’s was released to the world in ’79 with an extended version of their hit song.  Intriguingly, that track was cited as a catalyst for John Lennon (whose music career was on hiatus while he helped to raise his son, Sean) to return to the studio.  “It sounds just like Ono’s music, so I said to me-self, it’s time to get out the old axe and wake the wife up!” he said during an interview after the release of (his final album) “Double Fantasy”.

Like most of the group’s early songs, “Rock Lobster” was conceived at the rustic (i.e. no appliance’s, no running water) cabin on Jefferson Road that Kate Pierson rented for $15 a month between 1973 and 1979.   Capped by a rusting tin roof, the shack would serve as an inspiration for today’s selection.

Featured on the group’s fifth studio album, Cosmic Thing (a comeback album of sorts in 1989 after the AIDS related death of Ricky Wilson) “Love Shack” was also inspired by any number of “down-home, throw-down, disco juke joints that you would find in the rural South,” as well as a 1969 Temptations song called “Psychedelic Shack,” containing the lyric, “Psychedelic Shack, that’s where it’s at.”

The B-52s first million copy seller and easily their biggest hit, “Love Shack” was also their first single to reach the Billboard Top 40 charts, peaking at Number Three and reaching the Number Two singles spot in the UK.  Years later it would become the first publicly ripped and played song using iTunes software.

And what about “Tin roof, rusted!” which is prominantly wailed out by lead singer, Cindy Wilson?  According to the Urban Dictionary it means that one is pregnant, but Fred Schneider insists it means nothing at all and that it was just something she yelled when they came to a break during recording.  Everyone liked it so they stuck with it.

As for Pierson’s cabin, it burned down in 2004 long after she’d moved on.  Still, the song remains the same on dance floors throughout the world….


Love Shack

 If you see a faded sign by the side of the road that says

15 miles to the… Love Shack! Love Shack yeah

I’m headin’ down the Atlanta highway,

Lookin’ for the love getaway

Heading for the love getaway, love getaway,

I got me a car, it’s as big as a whale

And we’re headin’ on down

To the Love Shack

I got me a Chrysler, it seats about 20

So hurry up and bring your jukebox money

 The Love Shack is a little old place

Where we can get together

Love Shack baby, Love Shack bay-bee.

Love baby, that’s where it’s at

Ooo love baby, that’s where it’s at

Sign says…stay away fools,

‘Cause love rules at the Lo-o-ove Shack!

Well it’s set way back in the middle of a field,

Just a funky old shack and I gotta’ get back

Glitter on the mattress

Glitter on the highway

Glitter on the front porch

Glitter on the hallway

The Love Shack is a little old place

Where we can get together

Love Shack bay-bee! Love Shack baby!

Love Shack, that’s where it’s at!

Huggin’ and a kissin’, dancin’ and a lovin’,

Wearin’ next to nothing

Cause it’s hot as an oven

The whole shack shimmies, ya the the while shack shimmies!

The whole shack shimmies when everybody’s

Movin’ around and around and around and around!

Everybody’s movin’, everybody’s groovin’ baby!

Folks linin’ up outside just to get down

Everybody’s movin’, everybody’s groovin’ baby

Funky little shack! Funk-y little shack!

Hop in my Chrysler,

it’s as big as a whale

and it’s about to set sail!

I got me a car, it seats about twenty

So c’mon and bring your jukebox money.

The Love Shack is a little old place

Where we can get together

Love Shack baby! Love Shack bay-bee!

(Love Shack…Love Shack…)

Love Shack, that’s where it’s at!

Bang bang bang on the door baby!

Knock a little louder baby!

Bang bang bang on the door baby!

I can’t hear you

Bang bang on the door baby

Bang bang on the door

Bang bang on the door baby

Bang bang

You’re what?… Tin roof, rusted!

 Love Shack, baby Love Shack!

Love Shack, baby Love Shack!

Love baby, that’s where it’s at

Love Shack, baby Love Shack!

Love baby, that’s where it’s at

Huggin’ and a kissin’,

Dancin’ and a lovin’ at the love shack



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