Monday, January 25, 2016

"Legal Tender" by The B-52's

Song#:  1531
Date:  07/16/1983
Debut:  88
Peak:  81
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Rock, New Wave, Synthpop

Pop Bits:  After two hit albums and an interim EP, the B's returned with the full-length Whammy! Their first two albums each spawned a Pop chart entry and this third one did the same with this first single. Although it would only scrape the bottom of the chart for a month, the tune combined with two other tracks from the album, "Whammy Kiss" and "Song for a Future Generation," would hit #9 on the Dance chart. The album would reach #29 on the chart and go on to become their third gold disc.

ReduxReview:  The B's decided to tone down their guitar/keyboard rock and wrap their songs in the decade's new synthpop sound. It worked well enough for them to grab another chart single and gold album. I remember buying this LP when it came out and was a bit disappointed. There were a couple of good tunes, including this single, but nothing matched the outrageous rock of "Private Idaho" or "Rock Lobster." It also seemed like they were trying to be quirky rather than letting it just flow out of them. Initially I wasn't having it and I pretty much set the album aside. However, years later I've realized that it's actually a good effort from the band. Side one is very solid and showcases songs that could easily show up on a list of their best tunes. Side two is less interesting, especially since it lost "Don't Worry" (see below), but the throwaways here are a notch above ones on their other discs. While I could never imagine that "Legal Tender" would become a radio hit, it's still a great introduction to one of their most overlooked albums.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The Whammy! album initially contained the song "Don't Worry." This was their cover version of a song originally written by Yoko Ono. Ono's song, title "Don't Worry Kyoko (Mummy's Only Looking for Her Hand in the Snow)" was done first by the Plastic Ono Band and used as the b-side to John Lennon's "Cold Turkey" single (#30, 1969). It would then end up on Ono's 1971 album Fly. Inspired by her custody fight with her ex-husband over their daughter Kyoko, the majority of lyrics just have Ono repeating "don't worry." After Whammy! was first issued, some kind of rights issue came up with Ono regarding the B's remake and on further pressings of the album the song is replace with one titled "Moon 83." That song was an updated version of their own tune "There's a Moon in the Sky (Called the Moon)" that appeared on their self-titled debut album.


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