Whammy!

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This article is about the 1983 album by The B-52's. For the game show that aired on Game Show Network, see Whammy! The All-New Press Your Luck. For other uses of the word, see Whammy. For the Philippine franchise, see Whammy! Push Your Luck.
Whammy!
Studio album by The B-52's
Released April 27, 1983
Recorded December 1982 at Compass Point Studios, Nassau, Bahamas
Genre New wave
Length 34:53 (first pressing)
35:04 (second pressing)
Label Warner Bros.
Producer Steven Stanley
The B-52's chronology
Mesopotamia
(1982)
Whammy!
(1983)
Bouncing off the Satellites
(1986)
Singles from Whammy!
  1. "Legal Tender"
    Released: 1983
  2. "Whammy Kiss"
    Released: 1983
  3. "Song for a Future Generation"
    Released: 1983

Whammy! is the third studio album by new wave band The B-52's. It was recorded at Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas, in December 1982 and was produced by Steven Stanley. The record was refined and mastered at Sterling Sound, New York City. It was released on April 27, 1983 in the United States, with Warner Bros. Records as the primary label. Sales for Whammy! were generally weaker than their previous album, but overall successful, spawning the popular singles "Legal Tender", "Whammy Kiss", and "Song for a Future Generation". The album entered the Billboard 200 twice in 1983, reaching both number 29 and 171 throughout the year, while "Legal Tender" reached the Billboard Hot 100 chart, as well as the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play Singles chart alongside its two respective singles.

The B-52's' goal was to craft an album that would return to the New Wave sound and atmosphere of their debut album while updating their signature sound with drum machines and synthesizers, a slight contrast to their previous 1982 EP Mesopotamia, produced by David Byrne of Talking Heads who was intent on broadening the band's sound. The band created Whammy! with a stronger emphasis on the themes of sexuality, heterosexual dating, and gambling addiction. Two of the album's original singles, "Whammy Kiss" and "Legal Tender", as well as the song "Queen of Las Vegas", exemplify these themes respectively. The album was also the first to feature vocal performances by all five members of the band, as exemplified in the song "Song for a Future Generation". The album's seventh track, "Don't Worry", a cover version of the Yoko Ono song "Don't Worry, Kyoko (Mummy's Only Looking for Her Hand in the Snow)", from her 1971 album Fly; however, the song was removed during later pressings due to legal issues with Ono. On subsequent pressings, the song was replaced with "Legal Tender"'s B-side, "Moon 83"—a remake of their earlier track "There's a Moon in the Sky (Called the Moon)".

The B-52's' new musical directions and simplified lyrics divided critics. Reviewers generally treated Whammy! as weaker than their first two albums The B-52's and Wild Planet, but overall stronger than their previous album Mesopotamia.

Origins[edit]

The B-52's initially conceived Whammy! in early 1982, during a visit to Compass Point Studios, where the band commenced re-recordings of three songs ("Butterbean", "Big Bird", and "Queen of Las Vegas");[1] all three tracks were originally intended to be included on their previous album Mesopotamia; however, none of them were completed due to pressure and time constraints from Warner Bros. and their manager Gary Kurfirst.[2] Recordings on the remaining six songs ("Legal Tender", "Whammy Kiss", "Song for a Future Generation", "Trism", "Don't Worry", and "Work That Skirt") spread throughout December 1982.[1] Unlike their previous albums, all instrumentals in Whammy! were played by both Keith Strickland and Ricky Wilson;[1] both played the guitar and keyboards, while Strickland played the drums and Wilson played the bass.[3] Producer Steven Stanley supported Wilson and Strickland's concept of mixing the album into one continuous track in a manner similar to the band's previous album Party Mix!;[4] however, both Kurfirst and Warner Bros. vetoed this decision in favor of the more traditional track order.[3]

Reception[edit]

Commercial[edit]

Sales for Whammy! were generally weaker than their previous album,[5] but overall successful, spawning the popular singles "Legal Tender", "Whammy Kiss", and "Song for a Future Generation". The album entered the Billboard 200 twice in 1983, reaching both number 29 and 171 throughout the year,[6] while "Legal Tender" reached the Billboard Hot 100 chart, as well as the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play Singles chart alongside "Whammy Kiss" and "Song for a Future Generation".[7]

Critical[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars [8]
Robert Christgau A− [9]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars [10]

Media response to Whammy! was mixed, but generally positive; most critics agreed that while the album was generally weaker in songwriting structure than The B-52's' first two albums The B-52's and Wild Planet, it was an overall improvement over their previous album Mesopotamia,[8] which received poor reviews from critics, being described as a "botched collaboration",[8] and "lackluster".[11] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic commented "[...] [Whammy!] is certainly entertaining, even with its faults," praising the songs "Legal Tender", "Whammy Kiss", "Butterbean", and "Song for a Future Generation" and overall regarding the album as a strong follow-up to Mesopotamia.[8] Robert Christgau continued his support making it a "Pick Hit" and stating "[t]hough [The B-52's] still pick up some great ideas at interplanetary garage sales, their celebration of the pop mess-around is getting earthier."[9]

Ben Wener of The Spectator commented favorably on Whammy!, calling it an "underrated gem".[5] However, the album also attracted criticism; Allmusic criticized the album's overuse of drum machines and synthesizers.[8]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by The B-52's, except where noted. 

Side one
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Legal Tender" (Lyrics: Robert Waldrop) Pierson, C. Wilson 3:40
2. "Whammy Kiss"   Schneider (C. Wilson, Pierson) 5:20
3. "Song for a Future Generation"   Pierson, Schneider, Strickland, C. Wilson, R. Wilson 4:00
4. "Butterbean"   Schneider (C. Wilson, Pierson) 4:14
Side two
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Trism"   Pierson, Schneider, C. Wilson 3:23
2. "Queen of Las Vegas"   Pierson, C. Wilson 4:40
3. "Don't Worry (Yoko Ono cover)"   Pierson, Schneider, C. Wilson 4:01
4. "Big Bird"   Schneider (C. Wilson, Pierson) 4:14
5. "Work That Skirt"   Instrumental 3:48
Total length:
37:17

Note: On later pressings, "Don't Worry" was replaced with "Moon 83".

Personnel[edit]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1983) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard 200 29 [6]
UK Albums Chart 33

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification
United States (RIAA)[12] Gold

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Sexton 2002, p. 61.
  2. ^ Sexton 2002, p. 59.
  3. ^ a b Sexton 2002, p. 67.
  4. ^ Sexton 2002, p. 64.
  5. ^ a b Wener, Ben (1998-08-11). "The B-52s party on!: Nearly 20 years after turning the pop world on its ear, the group is gaining in popularity". The Spectator. p. D-10. 
  6. ^ a b Whammy! - B-52's > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums at AllMusic
  7. ^ Whammy! - The B-52's > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles at AllMusic. Retrieved 10 May 2010.
  8. ^ a b c d e Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Whammy! at AllMusic. Retrieved 17 October 2004.
  9. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (June 28, 1983). "Christgau's Consumer Guide: Pick Hit: B-52's: Whammy!". The Village Voice. Retrieved 22 November 2011.  Also posted at "B-52's: Whammy! > Consumer Guide Review". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 20 June 2007. 
  10. ^ Connelly, Christopher (June 9, 1983). "Whammy". Rolling Stone (397). Archived from the original on 1 October 2007. Retrieved 26 July 2007. 
  11. ^ Ruhlmann, William. Mesopotamia at AllMusic. Retrieved 2010-05-12.
  12. ^ "American album certifications – B-52 – Whammy!". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH

References[edit]