❚ YES, YES, WE KNOW there used to be three of them in Bananarama when they became the leading UK girl group of the Swinging 80s. The trio established what became a much-parodied all-girl genre with It Ain’t What You Do, It’s the Way That You Do It in 1981 with the Fun Boy Three, followed by He Was Really Sayin’ Somethin’. Their windswept hair and fun-girl glamour initially defined a raunchy street style which evolved into the knowing kind of new alpha-female making waves in showbiz such as TV presenters Muriel Gray and Paula Yates. By 1986 the Nanas formed a mutually beneficial partnership with the hitmaking producers Stock Aitken Waterman who crowned the girls’ progress with Venus, their No 1 hit in the US (No 8 in the UK).
But in 1988 we said byebye to co-founder Siobhan Fahey after she found love with Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics and became Shakespear’s Sister. Then for a while the Nanas had a fourth girl, Jacquie O’Sullivan, as number three, when the Guinness Book of World Records claimed them as the female group with the most chart hits ever, a record they still seem to hold. Then we said farewell to Jacquie, and then farewell to the lot of them. Then in 1992 Bananarama came back as two of the original three, Keren Woodward and Sara Dallin, but mainstream chart success has proved elusive while they’ve spent nearly two decades faffing around with remixes and greatest hits but precious little original material on their five albums.
They did score a UK top 20 hit with the new song Move in my Direction in 2005, and they did manage some fresh stuff (such as Seventeen) alongside the covers (such as the chunky S-s-s-single Bed) on the Hi-NRG dance album called Viva in 2009 and a kind BBC reviewer said that as middle-aged women “they still bristle with a pop energy born out of total conviction”!
They naturally boarded the current 80s revival bandwagon singing along with the Here & Now tour and the Rewind Festival this Saturday at Henley, and they’ve spent the past month whetting people’s appetites for their next comeback at the Australian Rewind in October [see below]. But, y’know, the fact that the biog at their website hasn’t been refreshed since wheneva, and their Facebook page is still plugging the Viva album tracks (99p per download at Play.com) and the Video for Love Comes, the “comeback single” from 2009, is all a bit woteva. Just read the interview plugged in their media gallery, Keren’s from the Pink Paper last Christmas where she says: “Same old, same old. It seems so long ago, and yet not so long ago. I don’t know where the year’s gone, really. Shows and stuff, the usual. I don’t know.” Hm, that’s Really Sayin’ Somethin’.
➢ Click to run video for ♫ Love Comes, the “comeback single”
➢ The first Rewind Festival Australia calls itself the world’s biggest 80s music fest, and offers 25 acts over three days Oct 28–30 on the coast of Wollongong NSW. As well as the original Bananarama’s co-founders Sara and Keren, the line-up includes Sister Sledge, Kool and The Gang, Midge Ure, ABC, The Human League, Tony Hadley, Nik Kershaw, ABC, Go West + more tba.
They always were a bit lackadaisical about the whole thing tho… even back in the day they always seemed to make out it was more accident than design… I always get the feeling that they’ve spent the last 30 years of their lives being rather bemused at their career! Which isn’t to say they’re not still capable of moments of genius…. Viva’s Ian Masterson-produced ‘Love Comes’ was one of the best pop singles of ’09.