The B-52s

Bouncing Off the Satellites

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Two years after the release of Whammy!, guitarist Ricky Wilson died of AIDS, a shattering blow for the B-52's. The group recouped and finished Bouncing Off the Satellites, the album they were recording when Wilson died. Considering their loss, it's not surprising that the B-52's don't sound entirely focused throughout the record, and it's easy to forgive them for the momentary loss of direction. Still, that doesn't make listening to Bouncing Off the Satellites any more fun. Musically, it's a continuation of Whammy!, with the group's signature sound being enhanced by drum machines, synths, and sessionmen. There are so many musicians on the record that it winds up sounding too carefully considered -- the polar opposite of the loose, inspired fun of their early work. That said, there are some flashes of inspiration scattered throughout the album ("Wig," "Juicy Jungle," "Theme for a Nude Beach," "She Brakes for Rainbows"). There isn't quite enough to make it of interest to anyone but the dedicated, yet those listeners will find that there's enough worth hearing on Bouncing Off the Satellites, especially if they're in a forgiving mood.

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