Bouncing off the Satellites

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Bouncing off the Satellites
The B-52's - Bouncing Off the Satellites.jpg
Cover art by Kenny Scharf
Studio album by The B-52's
Released September 8, 1986
Recorded July 1985
Studio Sigma Sound Studios, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Length 45:55
Label Warner Bros.
Producer Tony Mansfield
The B-52's chronology
Bouncing off the Satellites
Cosmic Thing
(1989)Cosmic Thing1989
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
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2/5 stars[1]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 2/5 stars[2]
Spin Alternative Record Guide 7/10[3]
The Village Voice B+[4]

Bouncing off the Satellites is the fourth studio album by new wave band The B-52's, released on September 8, 1986. It was recorded in July 1985 and was produced by Tony Mansfield. 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 hits despite some stations initially giving a considerable amount of airplay to "Summer of Love," which managed to hit number 3 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.[5] Despite the airplay the song received, the band's record company did not promote the album due to the band's lack of TV or promotional appearances; as a result, the only reached number 85 on the Billboard 200 chart.[5]

The album was seen as darker and more melancholy than the band's previous work, having more ballads.[6] It was, by most accounts, a critical and commercial failure.

Recording and death of Ricky Wilson[edit]

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."[7][8][9]

During the recording, guitarist Ricky Wilson had been suffering from AIDS.[10] 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." [11][12] 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."[12] On October 12, 1985, Wilson finally succumbed to the illness, at the age of 32.[10][13] Devastated, the band went into seclusion and did not tour to promote the album.[14] Nevertheless, Bouncing Off the Satellites eventually reached 85 on the Billboard 200.[15] Cindy went into a deep depression after her brother's death, while Keith retreated to Woodstock, New York, and Kate and Fred stayed in New York City. The band felt that it would be impossible to continue without Ricky.


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 listing[edit]

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

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Vocal Length
1. "Summer of Love" Kate Pierson, Keith Strickland, Cindy Wilson, Ricky Wilson Pierson, C. Wilson 4:02
2. "Girl from Ipanema Goes to Greenland" Strickland, C. Wilson, R. Wilson C. Wilson 4:22
3. "Housework" Pierson, Tim Rollins Pierson 4:04
4. "Detour Thru Your Mind"   Pierson, Schneider 5:06
5. "Wig"   Pierson, Schneider, C. Wilson 4:22
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Vocal Length
1. "Theme for a Nude Beach"   Pierson, Schneider, Strickland, C. Wilson 4:50
2. "Ain't It a Shame" Strickland, C. Wilson, R. Wilson C. Wilson 5:30
3. "Juicy Jungle" Fred Schneider, John Coté Schneider 4:50
4. "Communicate"   Pierson, Schneider, C. Wilson 4:08
5. "She Brakes for Rainbows" Strickland, C. Wilson C. Wilson 4:41
Total length: 45:55


Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1987) Peak
U.S. Billboard 200 85[5]


  1. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Bouncing Off the Satellites – The B-52's". AllMusic. Retrieved August 23, 2016. 
  2. ^ Considine, J.D. (2004). "The B-52's". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. pp. 67–68. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. Retrieved November 2, 2011. 
  3. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75574-8. 
  4. ^ Christgau, Robert (December 2, 1986). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved August 23, 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c "The B-52's Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 30 November 2016. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ Poundstone, William (1994). "Backward Messages on Records". Biggest Secrets. Harper Perennial. p. 229. ISBN 0-688-13792-X. Retrieved December 22, 2009. 
  9. ^ "Hard Rock/Metal/Punk". Backmask Online. Archived from the original on August 19, 2006. Retrieved July 25, 2006. 
  10. ^ a b AIDS and the Arts: A Lost Generation - Newsweek Health - Archived June 26, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b EMP: Experience Music Project: Kate Pierson talking about Ricky Wilson
  13. ^ 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. 
  14. ^ Allmusic Guide Bio for The B-52s
  15. ^ Allmusic Guide Chart Information for Bouncing Off the Satellites