Released in 1998, Time Capsule: Songs for a Future Generation is the essential B-52's greatest-hits collection. A chronologically assembled highlight reel of the group's first two decades, it contains all of their singles and a number of album favorites, along with two exclusive then-newly written tracks. When they first arrived on the scene in 1979, their kitschy thrift-store image and weirdly spartan sound immediately set them apart from others in the new wave scene to which they were loosely attached. Three guys, two girls, arcane hairdos, no bassist, and a sound that was equal parts spy music and good-time dance party, the B-52's were always fascinatingly loveable outsiders and remained so throughout their years of success. Beginning with "Planet Claire," "52 Girls," and the immortal "Rock Lobster," Time Capsule winds its way through their early and mid-'80s hits like "Quiche Lorraine" and the charming "Song for a Future Generation." As they continued to grow and evolve, their sound expanded, becoming both more nostalgic and more light-hearted, leading into their commercial peak in the early '90s with the excellent "Channel Z," "Roam," and of course "Love Shack." A highlight of this collection is the previously unreleased original mix of "Summer of Love," which feels far more natural than the version which ended up being released on 1986's Bouncing Off the Satellites. The two newly recorded cuts, "Debbie" and "Hallucinating Pluto," are decent enough and will interest collectors, though they can hardly be considered among the band's best material. Still, tacked as they are to the end, they serve as worthy bookends to this excellent 18-track set, which reveals the full career arc of one of rock's most fun and most distinctive acts.
AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger