The B-52s

Planet Claire

Composed by Fred Schneider / Keith Strickland

Song Review by

One of the great album openers of the new wave era, "Planet Claire" tells the listener almost everything they need to know about the B-52's in its two-and-a-half minute instrumental intro: space sounds blend into a jumpy, speeded-up version of Henry Mancini's "Peter Gunn" theme mixed with sounds that could have been lifted from one of Joe Meek's "Telstar" follow-ups, followed by a lengthy wordless vocal and organ section that recalls the theme from Star Trek. The group's blend of kicky pop culture references, a mix and match aesthetic and an appreciation of the then-forgotten heroes of pop music past is perfectly introduced, and that's even before Fred Schneider speeds in with his surreal depiction of life on the titular planet. ("No one ever dies there/no one has a head," one of many great silly throwaway lines on this album.) And then, less than two minutes later, the whole thing is neatly wrapped up with the dead-stop precision of a razor slicing a master tape. It's all rather brilliant, and a perfect start to one of the defining albums of the American new wave.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The B-52's 1979 Reprise 4:35
No Image 1980 Warner Bros. / Reprise
The Best of the B-52's: Dance This Mess Around 1990 Island / PolyGram 4:34
Planet Claire 1995 Polygram 4:35
Devolution One 1995
Various Artists
Big Life
No Image 1996
Various Artists
Telstar
Time Capsule: Songs for a Future Generation 1998 Rhino / Warner Bros. 4:35
Time Capsule - Mixes: Summer of Love 98 1998 Warner Bros. 9:09
Time Capsule Remixes 1999 Import 9:09
Brain in a Box: The Science Fiction Collection 2000
Various Artists
Rhino 4:36
Nude on the Moon: The B-52's Anthology 2002 Rhino / Warner Bros. 4:37
Absolument Fabuleux 2003
Original Soundtrack
Universal Distribution
Mesopotamia/Planet Claire/Whammy 2003 Spectrum Audio 4:36
Hey, Mr. Spaceman 2003
Various Artists
Music for Little People 4:37
Clasicos de los 80's 2005
Various Artists
Contrasena
New Waves: 45 Original 45's from the Post Punk Era 2005
Various Artists
Family Recordings 4:33
PAUL [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] 2011
Original Soundtrack
Hip-O 4:33
With the Wild Crowd! Live in Athens, GA 2011 Eagle Rock 4:51
Live Germany 1983 2011 Immortal
With the Wild Crowd! Live in Athens, GA 2012 Eagle Rock
Original Album Series 2012 Rhino 4:36
3 For 1 Box Set Warner Music
blue highlight denotes editor's pick