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Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Rock Lobster"

The B-52's - Rock Lobster (1978)

There goes a Narwhal!

Swingin' 60's surf music right? Wrong. What starts as as almost goofy and playful sounding becomes threatening by the middle and flat out crazy person by the end. That opening lick is so iconic. The guitar is baritone tuned, and the bass line is played on an organ. The instrumentation has very few high tones, which adds to the ominous feel of the whole thing. The organ does play some highs, but only near the beginning. The two women providing backup also make it seem like a normal 60's beach song at first. They are also responsible for all of the various sound effects associated with the listing of marine animals.

At about 1:30 we get a falling vocals matched with surf guitar sound. Then the original riff shows up again for a moment, but we are hardly going back to the opening sound. When Fred Schneider roars out "let's rock" at 2:20 he might as well be fronting The Jam. The lyrics are still life-guards and tanning butter but the song is punk. For the rest of the song, the lyrics get stranger. The guitar and organ sounds are driving you into a hellish underwater landscape by the end.

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