It took the B-52’s three years to follow-up the quadruple-platinum Cosmic Thing. In that time, the rigors of touring and the magnetic pull of domestic responsibility caused Cindy Wilson to take an indeterminate hiatus. The B’s survived the permanent loss of one Wilson; would they be able to take the temporary loss of another?
The answer turned to be a big ol’ “negatory.” You have track after track of insipid music stretched minutes beyond tolerability, Fred Schneider is inane without also being lovably insane and thus salvaging his whole shtick, and while Kate Pierson is an undoubtedly technically amazing vocalist, without Cindy to take it hip to hip, it turns out that’s all she is. The dual vocal modulation helped make the band so damn distinctive in the first place, and its absence guts Good Stuff. Not to mention there’s so many guest musicians the record might more accurately be attributed to “The B-52’s and Friends.”
“Tell It Like It Tis”–“Doin’ it right/Day and night.” See, that’s what I mean by inane. Doing what? Dancing? Fucking? Drinking Kool-Aid? I know the B-52’s have never been the deepest band around, but at least they gave you something to grab hold of and dance with, some abstract and engaging bit of nonsense that left you feeling delighted if not enlightened by the end. This is just empty…and it’s just the start.
“Hot Pants Explosion”–This bowl of milkless cereal was released as a single, amazingly. My English friends would call this song “pants,” and I’d agree.
Fred is talking to a pair of hot pants. I don’t really want to hold on to that. Doesn’t pique my interest even slightly. Also, is there bass anywhere on this album?
“Good Stuff”–Lies, motherfucker. Six minutes of aimless lies. Keith sparks off some shallow sparks on the guit-fiddle, and the bridge makes a valiant attempt at flight with ultimately broken wings, but by and large, the title track is useless as a quality way to pass the time. It starts off with over a minute of rash-inducing skit-skat, then the lyrics actually come in. Oh honey. “So how about joinin’ my lovin’ session?” Fred asks faux-saucily at one point. Hell no!
“Revolution Earth”–Arguably the fan fave of Good Stuff, “Revolution Earth” was co-written with reliable old chum Robert Waldrop. Save some erratic vox from Fred, this is a Kate multi-track extravaganza in honor of the big blue marble and all its wonder (the litany of glories excludes the actual denizens of said orb, understandably). I love Kate for many things–her wigs, her magnificent voice that managed to make an absolutely ridiculous Iggy Pop love ballad somewhat listenable, her affection for the black-capped chickadee, and hell, even her steadfast belief that the human body does not need protein has a certain “girl you in danger” charm. But “Revolution Earth” is little more than an excuse for vocal pyrotechnics. Mind you, it’s far and away the best song on Good Stuff; the definition of “dubious honor.”
“Dreamland”–Provide surcease from the pain, please! We are entering Shout levels of unlistenable here! Reminds me of Information Society’s “What’s On Your Mind (Pure Energy),” which is a far better tune.
“Is That You Mo-Dean?”–The chorus is a treat, playful without knocking over the next kids sand castle in a delirious fit of puerility. Who is Mo-Dean? He is “the interdimensional outer space being,” of course of course! See, this is why it’s hard to fall out of love with this band.
“The World’s Green Laughter”–Former NBA superstar Charles Barkley hates this song, y’all. Told me straight up one day, “Jenn, this is song is turr’ble, just turr’ble. Put Wild Flag back on.” This is an instrumental, which would seem harmless enough, but for putting me in mind of Tim Curry’s superbly hideous “Anything Can Happen On Halloween” (as seen in the 1980s basic cable flick The Worst Witch) I got to agree with the Round Mound.
“Vision of a Kiss”–Nile Rodgers played guitar on this. He also played guitar on “Dress You Up” by Madonna. Guess which one is better!
“Breezin'”–“We got to get it together.” Oh sweeties. Too much unadulterated Kate yet again reveals what Cindy Wilson took with her upon departure: soul.
“Bad Influence”–Let yer Frankenstein flag fly. Eh. You could listen to “Bad Influence,” or you could snort salt off the kitchen table. Life is about choices.