Bouncing Off the Satellites

Bouncing off the Satellites is the fourth studio album by American new wave band the B-52's, released on September 8, 1986. It was recorded in July 1985 and was produced by Tony Mansfield. Founding member and guitarist Ricky Wilson died of AIDS after the album was completed, but several months prior to the album's release. With the band too distraught to tour, the album received minimal promotion and failed to yield any hit singles despite some radio stations initially giving a considerable amount of airplay to "Summer of Love," which managed to peak at No. 3 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.[1] Despite the airplay the song received, the band's record label did not promote the album due to the band's lack of TV or promotional appearances; as a result, it only reached No. 85 on the Billboard 200 chart.[1]

Bouncing off the Satellites
The B-52's - Bouncing Off the Satellites.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 8, 1986 (1986-09-08)
RecordedJuly 1985
StudioSigma Sound Studios, New York, New York
LabelWarner Bros.
The B-52's chronology
Bouncing off the Satellites
Cosmic Thing
Singles from Bouncing off the Satellites
  1. "Summer of Love"
    Released: 1986
  2. "Girl from Ipanema Goes to Greenland"
    Released: 1986
  3. "Wig"
    Released: 1987

The album was seen as darker and more melancholy than the band's previous work, having more ballads[2]. It was, by most accounts, a critical and commercial failure, though three tracks from the album - "Summer of Love", "Wig", and "Girl from Ipanema Goes to Greenland" - have been performed semi-regularly by the band on tour since the 1990s.

Recording and death of Ricky WilsonEdit

Recording sessions for Bouncing off the Satellites began in July 1985.

A backwards message was deliberately inserted into the album by the B-52's. The message occurs in the song "Detour Thru Your Mind", in the last 30 seconds of the track: Fred Schneider says (slowly and distinctly), "I buried my parakeet in the backyard. Oh no, you're playing the record backwards. Watch out, you might ruin your needle."[3][4][5]

During the recording, guitarist Ricky Wilson had been suffering from AIDS.[6] None of the other band members other than Strickland were aware of his illness. Strickland later stated that Wilson "was very protective of Cindy and his family." [7][8] In an interview, Kate Pierson stated that Wilson had kept his illness secret from his bandmates because he "did not want anyone to worry about him or fuss about him."[8] Because of this and the lack of new material for the album, Wilson and Strickland allowed Pierson and Fred Schneider to contribute solo material they had been working on at the time; they contributed one track each for the album, "Housework" and "Juicy Jungle", respectively. On October 12, 1985, Wilson finally succumbed to the illness, at the age of 32, and though Strickland and a few session musicians worked on overdubs for the recorded tracks, the rest of the band were not involved.[6][9] Devastated at Wilson's death, the band went into seclusion and did not tour to promote the album.[10] Nevertheless, Bouncing Off the Satellites eventually reached 85 on the Billboard 200.[11] Cindy went into a deep depression after her brother's death, while Strickland retreated to Woodstock, New York, and Pierson and Schneider stayed in New York City. The band initially felt that it would be impossible to continue without Ricky until they reformed in 1988 for the recording of their next album Cosmic Thing.

Commercial performanceEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [12]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [13]
Spin Alternative Record Guide7/10[14]
The Village VoiceB+[15]

The album debuted on the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart at #97 on October 4, 1986 and peaked at #85 the following week. By the third week it had fallen out of the Top 100 and was off the chart by the second week of 1987.

Track listingEdit

All tracks are written by The B-52's, except where noted.

Side one
1."Summer of Love"Kate Pierson, Keith Strickland, Cindy Wilson, Ricky WilsonPierson, C. Wilson4:02
2."Girl from Ipanema Goes to Greenland"Strickland, C. Wilson, R. WilsonC. Wilson4:22
3."Housework"Pierson, Tim RollinsPierson4:04
4."Detour Thru Your Mind" Pierson, Schneider5:06
5."Wig" Pierson, Schneider, C. Wilson4:22
Side two
1."Theme for a Nude Beach" Pierson, Schneider, Strickland, C. Wilson, R. Wilson4:50
2."Ain't It a Shame"Strickland, C. Wilson, R. WilsonC. Wilson, Strickland, R. Wilson5:30
3."Juicy Jungle"Fred Schneider (lyrics), John Coté (music)Schneider4:50
4."Communicate" Pierson, Schneider, C. Wilson4:08
5."She Brakes for Rainbows"Strickland, R. WilsonC. Wilson, Pierson, Strickland, R. Wilson4:41
Total length:45:55


Chart performanceEdit

Chart (1987) Peak
U.S. Billboard 200 85[1]


  1. ^ a b c "The B-52's Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  2. ^ Wener, Ben (August 11, 1998). "The B-52s party on!: Nearly 20 years after turning the pop world on its ear, the group is gaining in popularity". The Spectator. p. D-10.
  3. ^ Patterson, R. Gary (2004). Take a Walk on the Dark Side: Rock and Roll Myths, Legends, and Curses. Fireside. p. 174. ISBN 0-7432-4423-0.
  4. ^ Poundstone, William (1994). "Backward Messages on Records". Biggest Secrets. Harper Perennial. p. 229. ISBN 0-688-13792-X. Retrieved December 22, 2009.
  5. ^ "Hard Rock/Metal/Punk". Backmask Online. Archived from the original on August 19, 2006. Retrieved July 25, 2006.
  6. ^ a b AIDS and the Arts: A Lost Generation - Newsweek Health - Archived June 26, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Bounce It Off Your Satellite". June 19, 2015.
  8. ^ a b "YouTube".
  9. ^ Edmondson, Jacqueline, Ph.D., ed. (2013). Music in American Life: An Encyclopedia of the Songs, Styles, Stars, and Stories that Shaped our Culture. ABC-CLIO. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-313-39348-8. While the band was recording Bouncing off the Satellites (1986), tragedy struck. Ricky Wilson died from HIV/AIDs-related illness. The remaining band members, who were too distraught to tour and promote the album, decided to take a hiatus from their musical careers.
  10. ^ "The B-52s - Biography, Albums, Streaming Links - AllMusic". AllMusic.
  11. ^ Allmusic Guide Chart Information for Bouncing Off the Satellites
  12. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Bouncing Off the Satellites – The B-52's". AllMusic. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  13. ^ Considine, J. D. (2004). "The B-52's". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 67–68. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. Retrieved November 2, 2011.
  14. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  15. ^ Christgau, Robert (December 2, 1986). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved August 23, 2016.