The B-52s – Roam

10th April 2024 · 1980s, 1989, Music

I’d forgotten quite how long The B-52s kept up their run of quirky hit singles backed by camp and kitsch videos.

Released in 1989, this single came out 13 years after the group formed in Athens, Georgia, and more than a decade after their debut single Rock Lobster.

The B-52s don’t really fit into any musical genre, though they surfed along on the New Wave at the start – they have plenty in common with The Rezillos, The Cramps and early Blondie – before adding a dance vibe to their songs, heard at its best on a great remix album called – aptly enough – Party Mix!

Roam was the fourth single taken from Cosmic Thing, the album that proved to be their belated mainstream breakthrough – thanks to the huge hit single Love Shack. But lots of us had been on board their retro ship of kitsch 50s and 60s fashions, beehives, surf pop and sci-fi references for a decade by then.

It was their first album after the AIDS-related death of Ricky Wilson in 1985, at the age of only 32, following which the group went on a long hiatus while the devastated members – among them Ricky’s sister Cindy – dealt with their grief.

Roam is sung by Kate and Cindy alone, making it the only song from the album without any vocals by the eccentric Fred Schneider – though he still manages to hog the limelight, as ever, in the video.

I now find, to my astonishment, that The B-52s, who pleased grammar nerds like me by dropping their unnecessary apostrophe back in 2008, are not only still going strong – with original members Cindy, Kate, Fred and Keith – but about to start a residency at The Venetian in Las Vegas this very Friday.

I’m seriously tempted to hop on a plane to see how it compares to the time I first saw them at their UK debut at the Lyceum in 1979. In the meantime, here’s a fantastic extended remix of Roam that may (or may not) feature Nile Rogers.