Released: 14 April 1983
Stevie Ray Vaughan, Nile Rodgers: guitar
Rob Sabino: keyboards
Carmine Rojas: bass guitar
Mac Gollehon: trumpet
Robert Arron, Stan Harrison: tenor saxophone
Steve Elson: baritone saxophone
Omar Hakim/Tony Thompson: drums
Sammy Figueroa: percussion
Frank Simms, George Simms, David Spinner: backing vocals
‘Ricochet’ was the fifth song on Let’s Dance, David Bowie’s 15th studio album.
As the most experimental track on Let’s Dance, the song was a bridge from Bowie’s art rock past to his modernist present. Little wonder, then, that Tony Visconti described ‘Ricochet’ was one of his favourites from the album.
Bowie later suggested that the production and performance did not capture the sound he had originally hoped for.
I thought it was a great song, and the beat wasn’t quite right. It didn’t roll the way it should have, the syncopation was wrong. It had an ungainly gait; it should have flowed… Nile did his own thing to it, but it wasn’t quite what I’d had in mind when I wrote the thing.
Musician Magazine, August 1987
With a loping 6/8 rhythm and an unconventional song structure, ‘Ricochet’ was layered in the studio from the percussion track upwards. For reasons unknown, during the spoken sections Bowie adopts a Welsh accent, seemingly invoking the spirits of Dylan Thomas or Richard Burton as he speaks of industrialists’ toil and strife.
‘Ricochet’ was the only Let’s Dance song not to appear on a single in any country.
In the studio
The Let’s Dance sessions took place at New York’s Power Station studio in December 1982 and January 1983. With skilled session musicians on hand, the recording was swift, with many songs completed in just a handful of takes.
‘Ricochet’ was recorded on 6 January under the working title ‘Shame Shame (It’s Not The End Of The World)’.
This was a new band for David at the time. He only knew Stevie Ray Vaughan, who he had seen at Montreux, and me. I hadn’t met Stevie until he came in to play on the record but I loved how his guitars contrasted with mine. We had to fix everything. For example, on January 6th we worked on ‘Cat People’ and ‘Shame Shame (It’s Not The End Of The World)’, which would become ‘Ricochet’. Everything was right on ‘Cat People’ except the bass. ‘Shame Shame (It’s Not The End Of The World)’ had more of an Afrobeat thing going on which both David and I were inspired by at the time, so that first session was all about getting the percussion right to make the bed track. After we got that right, I wrote the horn charts. We came in the next day and did trumpet, piccolo trumpet, flugelhorn, tenor sax and baritone sax. That’s when we had ‘Ricochet’. We had a saxophone choir with trumpets for punch, and I made it all hip and swingy since David loved jazz. I had to fight the drums, so that was my orchestration on that.
Loving The Alien (1983–1988) book