Whammy! is the third studio album by American 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 band's goal with Whammy! was to update their signature sound with drum machines and synthesizers. The album was also the first to feature vocal performances by all five members of the band, as exemplified in "Song for a Future Generation."
Reviewers generally treated Whammy! as weaker than their first two albums The B-52's and Wild Planet, but overall stronger than their preceding EP Mesopotamia.
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"); 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 The album's remaining six songs ("Legal Tender", "Whammy Kiss", "Song for a Future Generation", "Trism", "Don't Worry", and "Work That Skirt") were recorded in December 1982, again at Compass Point Studios. Unlike their previous albums, all instruments on Whammy! were played exclusively by Keith Strickland and Ricky Wilson; both played the guitar and keyboards, while Strickland played the drums and Wilson played the bass.
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. However, both Kurfirst and Warner Bros. vetoed this decision in favor of the more traditional track order.
Critical reception for Whammy! was positive at the time of its release. Most critics regarded the album as a return to form after their previous album Mesopotamia, which they felt strayed too far from the band's signature sound. Praise was given to the drum machines and synthesizers, which created upbeat and highly danceable songs, as well as the tight lyrics and over the top vocals. Rolling Stone's Christopher Connelly, while referring to Mesopotamia as "underrated", was pleased with the band's return to their trademark style, and felt that even with the addition of Devo-style keyboards, producer Steven Stanley had "kept the band's band's basic strengths intact: breakneck tempos, deliciously uninhibited singing and an earnest enthusiasm for some of the universe's less-celebrated pleasures". He particularly praised Pierson, Wilson, and Schneider's vocals. While remarking that the entirety of side two is "a waste", he concluded, "What is important is that this band is having fun again - and in this age of dopey novelty songs and cheesy dance tracks, nobody does it better."
Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic later said the album was "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, though he criticized the album's overuse of drum machines and synthesizers. Robert Christgau continued his support making it a "Pick Hit" and stating "hough still pick up some great ideas at interplanetary garage sales, their celebration of the pop mess-around is getting earthier." Ben Wener of The Spectator commented favorably on Whammy!, describing as an "overlooked gem".
Whammy! was a commercial success, spawning the hit 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 "Whammy Kiss" and "Song for a Future Generation".
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