ALL POP, ALL STYLE.

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.

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #164 : BANANARAMA

Bananarama? You seem bemused. You shouldn’t be. There’s a myriad of reasons why they are more than worthy of an ICA:-

– Formed in 1981 and still going strong today

Terry Hall loved ‘em

Siobhan Fahey

– Listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the all-female group with most chart entries in the world

– Wrote a seemingly fun-filled song about an Oscar-winning actor which turned out had a really dark meaning

– Have championed the LGBT community from the outset

Keren Woodward

– Along with Pete Burns/Dead or Alive, they made Stock, Aitken and Waterman bearable for a short time

John Peel loved at least one of their songs

– Said song was sung in Swahili and did more for raising the profile of world music than any po-faced festival organised by Peter Gabriel

– the other one

– They got The Bluebells a #1 hit

– There’s enough songs to merit a first-class ICA

A few things worth remembering before launching into the ICA on a song-by-song basis. The trio of Keren Woodward, Siobhan Fahey and Sara Dallin had befriended one another as fashion students in the late 70s and their preferred listening and hang-outs centred around the post-punk scene in London where they were friendly with the likes of The Monochrome Set, Department S, Shane McGowan, Paul Weller and a couple of ex-Sex Pistols.

Malcolm McLaren was also an admirer and indeed, hatched a plan to alter their image and make much more of their looks and femininity, which was a complete no-no as far as the girls, two of whom were still in their teens, weree concerned. They wanted to get success the old fashioned way through gigs and good song writing….and they did.

One of their biggest fans is DJ MLC – a dear friend of mine and Jacques (indeed it was MLC who first coined the name ‘Those Charming Men’ for us).  I asked him to do the blog the honour of a Bananarama ICA.  He said yes, but only on the conditions that it was a remix effort and that I wouldn’t alter a word of his prose.  I haven’t……..so without any further delay, I’m putting you in the very capable hands of DJ MLC.

I was delighted to be asked by Those Charming Men to provide a remixed version of the Banarama compilation. Writing I’m not so good at, but ask me to twiddle knobs and whip out a 12” then I’ve plenty experience.

I was big in the 80s and the Bananas come from the era when I was in giving it proper large. Sure, weddings was really my thing, but I could often be seen doing the odd gay club back in the day. Boy, the things I saw on those nights. I’ve turned a few moustaches I can tell you. As a straight hunk of manhood it was hard to know what they wanted, how to satisfy at times, but I worked up a sweat to keep them happy and more often than not was relieved by the end of the night.

Balance these girls on my decks, turn them on, give them a scratch now and then, sometimes rub them up the wrong way, sandwich them between Donna and Divine – then those lads would give me their all on the floor. I’m not ashamed to say that I could keep them up all night. They couldn’t get enough and neither could I.

One awkward night I saw Barry from my work. Topless and wearing baby oil – he’d never seen me like that before. He was pretty discreet about the whole affair, especially after I gave him some Tainted Love near the end of the night. Sadly I don’t DJ now, except in my head. Dorothy in Accounts saw to that. The only baby oil I see now is that left over from when Dom and Deb were kids. These days when I’m “in the house” I’m actually in the house. I’m happy, sure. But I do miss my late nights with the boys.

So, boys AND girls, hands in the air like you just don’t care, poppers up your nose, fit a couple of coloured bulbs in the living room lights and get your kids to flick them on and off, put some leather around your loins if you must. But, most importantly, dance motherfunkers dance…

Side A

Shy Boy (US Extended Version)
Nathan Jones (Psycho Mix)
Don’t Step on My Groove
Love In The First Degree (Jailers Mix)
Aie a Mwana (Extended Version)

Side B

Really Saying Something (Solasso Mix Version)
I Heard A Rumour (Miami Remix)
Robert De Niro’s Waiting (Remix 2000)
Cruel Summer (89 Swingbeat Dub)
Venus (Marc Almond HiNRG Showgirl Remix)

Oh and in case you were thinking that it’s an urban myth about the #1 hit, this song was composed by Bobby Bluebell and Siobhan Fahey.

mp3 : The Bluebells – Young At Heart

Hopefully today’s posting has brought a bit of fun back into the blog.

JC