Brent Johnson’s Lost Songs: ‘Dance This Mess Around’ by The B-52’s

brent johnson digs up a lost treasure from The B-52’s just in time for your New Year’s party …

The B-52’s have long been hailed as the world’s greatest party band.

Well, get ready for one strange party.

Most of the world knows their pair of smash 1989 hits: the kooky ‘Love Shack’ and the sublime ‘Roam.’ But a decade before that, The B-52’s emerged from the same fertile Athens, Ga., music scene that also produced R.E.M. Only, they weren’t as much alt-rock as art-rock — sporting bouffant hairdos, surf guitar riffs, sci-fi organ, and a lead singer who talk-shouted lyrics about a rock lobster. Their self-titled 1979 album is also one of the great debuts of the late-’70s new wave movement.

Tucked away on that record is a song my brother, Brian, has always raved about.

“Listen to ‘Dance This Mess Around,'” he once told me. “Top 10 song all-time.”

He’s not exaggerating.

There’s so much to love about ‘Dance This Mess Around’ — a deliciously campy ode to all those ’50s songs about dance crazes. There’s Cindy Wilson’s boiling vocals in the intro. Her brother Ricky Wilson’s herky-jerk guitar. Drummer Keith Strickland’s subtle shift in tempo. Fred Schneider’s toy piano. All the glorious-sounding dances they speak of: the Shug-a-loo, the Shy Tuna, the Dirty Dog. The way Kate Pierson sings ‘hippy hippy forward hippy hippy hippy hippy hippy shake.’ The ‘yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah’ coda.

See it all here, in a fabulous clip of a 1980 performance on Saturday Night Live

If you’re looking for a wacky New Year’s Eve party Saturday, you can’t go wrong popping this on.

Top 10 song all-time.

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