After the October 1985 death of Ricky Wilson, the band’s guitarist/songwriter/founding member and sibling of vocalist Cindy Wilson, The B-52s found themselves emotionally and professionally adrift and badly in need of a positive jolt. That their next album turned out to be both a smash hit and one of the finest moments of their career was more than what the proverbial doctor would’ve ordered.
Helmed by Nile Rodgers and Don Was, who underlined their funky grooves and updated their sound without curtailing their trademark wackiness and fun, Cosmic Thing [Reprise-1989] was a resounding critical and commercial success, not to mention quite the comeback. However, it wasn’t exactly an immediate turning of the tide: reception to lead-off single “Channel Z” was rather lukewarm. But the second single turned out to be a doozy.
On its way to becoming their biggest ever hit, “Love Shack” was the B-52s' first no.1, first Top 40 hit, featured an iconic video clip, and eventually made Rolling Stone’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of all Time”. That it catapulted Cosmic Thing into the stratosphere is quite the understatement.
Which by no means is to say the album was filler-laden, as subsequent singles “Roam” and “Deadbeat Club”, as well as the soothing instrumental closing track “Follow Your Bliss”, will readily attest to. And while Cosmic Thing remains an unequalled triumph in the band’s latter catalog, it’s one of a couple of classic albums to their credit. Not too shabby. Ricky Wilson would surely be very proud.