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In with the Old

While it's true that the B-52's did return to the studio for a while, plans for a full-length CD of fresh material never panned out. Instead, the band has joined fellow college-rock mainstays the Pretenders on the concert circuit this summer -- not in support of an all-new release, but rather the best-of collection Time Capsule: Songs for a Future Generation.

Time Capsule does include two new tracks -- "Debbie" and "Hallucinating Pluto" -- and the tour also constitutes a legitimate B-52's reunion, as Cindy Wilson is back in the fold. As for the reasons behind the aborted studio project, the members have said that coming up with the goods was just plain too difficult this time out, and they figured that a greatest-hits package was a worthy cop-out.

Still, it says a lot about the staying power of the B-52's that they can co-headline an amphitheater tour a full six years after their last CD (1992's Good Stuff). But then, the B-52's are one of rock's longest-running bands: It's hard to believe, but they've been around 22 years. Like any enduring act, the B-52's possess a special chemistry; its five original members (guitarist Ricky Wilson, brother of Cindy Wilson, died of AIDS in 1985) were friends before they were musical partners. From the start, the band stood out, both for its wacky dance-pop sound and for its kitschy look. The group's first two albums, B-52's (1979) and Wild Planet (1980) are well represented on the Time Capsule CD. Both went gold, but the band's commercial fortunes sagged for several years until 1989's Cosmic Thing, a full-fledged comeback that featured the hit singles "Love Shack," "Roam" and "Deadbeat Club."

A year and a half of road work behind Cosmic Thing exacted a toll, especially on Wilson, who left the band following the tour. But Wilson returned two years later, and now it looks to be business as usual -- for the time being. At this point, no one in the band is offering any guarantees as to the band's future, so soak up the wackiness while you can.

-- Alan Sculley

The B-52's perform with the Pretenders, Sunday, July 26, at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, The Woodlands. Tickets are $17.50 to $45. Royal Crown Revue opens. For info, call 629-3700.

Glam Jam --In every way, the late-'80s hair-metal movement was quite the freak show: rail-thin pretty boys reeling off ear-splittingly loud paeans to sex, drugs and groupies, all while wearing enough makeup and hair spray to make Tammy Faye seem downright wholesome by comparison. But it looks as if the pop-culture pendulum has already taken an inevitable swing toward the Spandexed sounds some of us may recall as fondly as our first canister of nitrous oxide. A recent package tour of B-list hair-metal bands drew a surprisingly large and rowdy crowd at the Arena Theatre, so don't be shocked if Glam Slam's C-list roster -- the Bullet Boys, Enuff Z'Nuff, Bang Tango and Pretty Boy Floyd -- meets with similar fortunes. Weirder things have happened; just ask Axl. Sunday, July 26, at Numbers, 300 Westheimer. Tickets $12.50. Doors 6:30 p.m. 629-3700. (Bob Ruggiero)

Erykah Badu -- Lilith Fair's maiden voyage last year wanted so badly to secure a bond of sisterhood. Yet, organizers plain forgot to include many actual sistas in the deal. (Sorry, Joan Osborne doesn't count.) But this year, Sarah McLachlan has made amends, compiling an impressive lineup of soulful divas for her cross-country she-in. A regular on that list is Dallas's Erykah Badu, whose incense-and-headwrap aura and heady, informed lyricism say plenty about the feminine mystique. Meredith Brooks take note. On Wednesday and Thursday, July 29 and 30, at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Tickets $29$49. Main stage showtime 5:30 p.m. 629-3700. (Craig D. Lindsey)

 
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