It was through a collaboration with Fun Boy Three that Bananarama first enjoyed and experienced chart success. Their own debut single, Aie A Mwana, had stiffed outside the Top 75 despite a fair bit of media attention via various music and style papers/magazines. The trio’s harmonies did, however, find a fan in Terry Hall and they accepted his invite to sing co-vocals on his band’s cover of a 1930s jazz number, ‘Tain’t What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It), which went all the way to #4 in early 1982.

Returning the favour, FB3 agreed to provide backing vocals for the next Bananarama single, which also turned out to be a cover – Really Sayin’ Something was their take on a 60s Motown song called He Was Really Sayin’ Something that had been a minor hit for Velvelettes, an all-girl group who released six singles all told, none of which charted high. The Bananarama version was a huge success, getting to #5 just a couple of months after the previous collaboration.

Next up, the trio of Sara Dallin, Siobhan Fahey and Keren Woodward sort of went out on their own, hooking up with the writing/production duo of Steve Jolley and Tony Swain who had delivered pop hits for the soul group Imagination (and who, in later in 1982, would really hit payola from their work with Spandau Ballet on the album True).

Shy Boy was released in June 1982, around the time of my 19th birthday. By rights, I should have hated everything it stood for, with its whimsical, light and disposable tune and lyric being at odds with most things I was listening to and buying. But, as Edwyn and Orange Juice would say not too long afterwards, I Can’t Help Myself, especially when it comes to great pop tunes that earworm their way into my brain. Shy Boy was reviewed in Smash Hits magazine by a then up-and-coming writer called Neil Tennant, who later proved to know more than most about making great pop records:-

A brand new song crisply written and produced by Imagination’s production team. Sunny and singalong – when you hear it from hordes of transistor radios on a hot day at your favourite seaside resort you’ll forget about the sand in your sandwiches.

Shy Boy went all the way to #5 which meant that Bananarama could bask in the glory of enjoying a presence in the UK singles charts for 31 out 34 weeks from 13 February to 11 September 1982. It was the onset of an extended period of domination in the charts for the remainder of the decade.

I owned a copy of the 7″ for a number of years but finally made the effort to pick up a copy of the 12″ a few weeks back, finding a great seller on Discogs from whom I picked up a number of other pop hits from the 80s for future postings. The 12″ is more than a couple of minutes longer than the 7″ and radio hit, lots more shoop shoop aaaahs for those of us who love that sort of thing:-

mp3: Bananarama – Shy Boy (extended version)

I’d forgotten that the b-side was a song the trio themselves had written, an early version of a track that would be later re-recorded with a different title (Boy Trouble) for the debut album, Deep Sea Skiving:-

mp3: Bananarama – Don’t Call Us (extended version)

This poptastic b-side does hark to the sort of tunes that they had recorded earlier with FB3.


7 thoughts on “ALL POP, ALL STYLE.

  1. Back when Bananarama had soul! I heard the FB3/Nans single on college radio and this one too. It wasn’t long before I bought the album and Canadian [?] 12.” I collected their 12″ singles for too many years. The last album I heard was the dull, dead “Wow!” but I foolishly kept buying singles through the early 90s. When it’s all said and done, the first album was fantastic. Second album, too! But after that – rapidly diminishing returns. SAW killed them off but we didn’t realize it at the time. Did You Know Dept.: The clip for “Shy Boy” was directed by Midge Ure/Chris Cross as part of their reasonably successful music video directing sideline?

  2. You can never have too many shoop shoop aaaahs.
    Still love a good few of the SAW-era singles.

  3. In 82 and 83, Bananarama could do little wrong. They had managed to create a sound and look that appealed and from ‘Taint What You Do.. thru to Robert De Niro’s Waiting, I was interested. My favorite track from this period was written by Soft Cell and Marc And The Mamba’s co-hort, Cindy Ecstacy – Dream Baby.
    But it wouldn’t last and they would become part of the SAW stable soon after and I just lost interest.

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