Fred Schneider and the Shake Society
is an album by Fred Schneider
, released in 1984
It was the first of two solo albums.
Notable names included co-producer Bernie Worrell on keyboards, synthesizers and/or backing vocals on several tracks, and Kate Pierson on backing vocals on four tracks including "Monster" (in addition to appearing on its music video).
Fred Schneider's first solo turn away from the B-52's was definitely a product of its time. For all of his band's new wave icon status, the B-52's weren't a synth rock group as such, but that's what more or less ended up backing him here, mostly thanks to one John Coté and his sometimes serviceable but unremarkable arrangements. Happily, Coté is content to either try to ape the B-52's or just let Schneider do his thing when he himself has little to offer, and more often than not the result is sometimes fine if not collectively spectacular.
Perhaps wisely enough, the lead song and single from the album was not only the best but one of the most B-52's-like, "Monster." With Kate Pierson turning in one of several guest performances and Schneider clearly having deadpan fun with lines like "There's a monster in my pants and it does a nasty dance," it's hard to resist. "Summer in Hell" is another winner, and while Pierson reappears it's much more Schneider and Coté's show, a solid slice of ersatz B-52's merriment about how all the fun people ended up in the fiery regions.
When it's just Schneider, Coté, and assorted others (including, in an inspired choice that just doesn't pan out for much, co-producer Bernie Worrell), things are often far less interesting, and more than once Schneider's trademark giddiness and odd imagery are the only things going for it. Remove those and songs like "Cut the Concrete" -- down to a really worthless ending guitar solo that seems borrowed from a bad mid-'80s cop drama -- and "This Planet's a Mess" could be trashed without anyone feeling any loss. Great as an EP, flawed as a full-length.
Frederick William Schneider III (age 68) is an American singer, songwriter, arranger, and musician, best known as the frontman of the rock band The B-52's, of which he is a founding member. He has stated that his musical influences included "Halloween songs and nutty Christmas songs" along with "Motown". He attended the University of Georgia, where he wrote a book of poetry for a class project. After college, he was a janitor as well as a Meals on Wheels driver. At the time the B-52's formed, he had very little musical experience.
Schneider said that his mother always knew more about her son than he knew about himself, and he said he came out of the closet while she was vacuum-cleaning. His mother replied with "Oh I know, Freddie" and continued vacuuming without missing a beat.
The B-52's got their start in 1976 when founders Cindy Wilson, Ricky Wilson, Kate Pierson, Keith Strickland, and Schneider played an impromptu number after drinking at a Chinese restaurant in Athens, Georgia. The band played their first real gig in 1977 at a Valentine's Day party for their friends. The band's first single was "Rock Lobster" which was recorded for DB Records in 1978. In 1979, the B-52's signed a recording contract with Warner Bros.
He provided the vocals for the Foo Fighters
cover of "Planet Claire", released as a bonus track on the FF's single "Times Like These" (2003).