Poptastic Confessions

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Friday, September 14, 2012

30 Years of Bananarama

Dear Poptastic Readeraramas, 

This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the UK girl group Bananarama, who just happen to be the most successful female group of all time! And they just happen to be my all-time favourite group. To celebrate their 30th Anniversary, there is a new greatest hits CD called 30 Years of Bananarama and most excitingly ... their first-ever DVD! Fans have been craving a DVD for years now.

30 Years of Bananarama CD/DVD cover

The cover is just OK. Not a good choice to put the photos in black and white. Bananarama are fun group. We need lots of color. 

Perhaps you are reading this and don't know much about Bananarama. Well, let me give you a brief history ...

 Bananarama in 1982: Keren, Sara and Siobhan 

The group started off as a trio in 1981: Sara, Keren and Siobhan. They got their start by jumping on stage with the Sex Pistols! They just formed the group as a laugh. Bananarama recorded their first single, a remake of Swahili song called "Aie A Mwana." After that, they recorded a song with The Fun Boy Three called "It Ain't What You Do" and had their first top ten hit in the UK in February of 1982. That video is not featured on the DVD as it was a Fun Boy Three song.

1983 Deep Sea Skiving album cover

Their 1983 debut album was very shambolic. It contained the singles "Really Saying Something""Shy Boy""Cheers Then" and "Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)".

Single covers 1981-1984

Their 1984 sophomore followup, self-titled Bananarama was a tad bit more serious, but still had some fun. It contained the singles  "Cruel Summer""Robert De Niro's Waiting", "Rough Justice""Hotline To Heaven" and "The Wild Life" 

1984 Bananarama's self-titled album cover

It was in 1984 when Bananarama's punk look started to change. The hair was less messy, although still big (It was the 80s!) and the group was trying to find their new style musically.

Bananarama in 1984: Keren, Siobhan and Sara

In December of 1984, the group took part of the historic single "Do They Know It's Christmas?" by Band Aid. Bananarama and Jody Watley were the only female artists to take part of it. In 1985, the group released the first single, "Do Not Disturb", from their third album, True Confessions.

1986 True Confessions album cover

The True Confessions album was mostly dark, mid-tempo songs. However, at the last minute, they recorded "Venus" with dance-pop producers Stock, Aitken & Waterman (SAW). The #1 track was a worldwide hit! Followup singles from the album were the remixed "More Than Physical" and the ballad "A Trick Of The Night."

Bananarama in 1987: Siobhan, Keren and Sara

In March of 1987, Keren and Sara took part in another charity single called "Let It Be" by Ferry Aid. Bananarama's style changed again around this time. Their look was more sleek and sexy. The music came with a big change too, as the group kept working with SAW. 

Single covers 1984-1988

Since their collaboration with SAW was so successful, they decided on a full album. Their fourth album WOW! came in 1987 and it is one of the happiest slices of pop to come along in awhile. The first three singles were "I Heard A Rumour", "Love In The First Degree", and "I Can't Help It." 

1987 WOW! album cover

In 1987, Siobhan married Dave Stewart from the Eurythmics and moved to L.A. After the third single from the WOW! album, Siobhan decided to quit the group and would eventually start a group called Shakespear's Sister with Marcella Detroit. Their biggest hit was in 1992 and it was called "Stay."

Shakespear's Sister in 1992: Siobhan and Marcella

Bananarama's record company panicked when Siobhan quit because they didn't think the general public would accept Bananarama as a duo. Pete Waterman knew of former Shillelagh Sisters singer Jacquie O'Sullivan and mentioned her name to Keren and Sara. They knew of Jacquie from the clubs and said yes. Jacquie joined to help finish promoting WOW! with the fourth and final single called "I Want You Back."

Bananarama in 1988: Jacquie, Keren and Sara

I'm not sure why, but the next album from the group was The Greatest Hits Collection. And it featured a photo of Siobhan, not Jacquie, on the cover. It was a bit strange to promote all of the previous songs with a new member who hadn't done much with the group. The first single to promote the album was "Love, Truth & Honesty." With that release, the group passed The Supremes for having the most chart hits, thus landing them in the Guinness Book of World Records. This is a record the group still holds today!

1988 The Greatest Hits Collection cover

As a nod to The Supremes, Bananarama covered their song "Nathan Jones" for their second single from the greatest hits. Then in the spring of 1989, comedians French & Saunders did a spoof of Bananarama calling themselves Lananeeneenoonoo. The group thought it was hilarious and then recorded a Beatles cover of "Help!" with Lananeeneenoonoo for as Comic Relief charity single. This was added to the greatest hits in later pressings.

Two remixes were commissioned to help promote the greatest hits and world tour in 1989: "Cruel Summer '89" and "Megarama '89". The compilation videos were not included on the DVD.

The 1989 world tour program cover

And at the end of 1989, there was a remake of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" by Band Aid 2. Bananarama was the only returning artists, although this time with Jacquie.

Single covers 1988-1991

In 1990, the group was back promoting new material for what would be Jacquie's first studio album with the group. The album was called Pop Life and it was AMAZING! The sound ranged from pop to reggae to rock to funk. Produced by Youth, the album spawned the singles "Only Your Love", "Preacher Man", "Long Train Running", and "Tripping On Your Love."

1991 Pop Life album cover

Unfortunately, Jacquie left the group following the promotion of the album's last single in 1991. Many fans, like me, were sad to see her go.

Bananarama in 1991: Keren, Sara and Jacquie

Keren and Sara continued on as a duo. Their first album as a duo was the very ABBA-sounding Please Yourself. Some sort of saw this as a step backwards musically for the group. As they returned to SAW, who know were also a duo (SW). There was just something missing about the music ... the WOW! factor.

1993 Please Yourself album cover

The album had three lovely singles … "Movin' On", "Last Thing On My Mind" and "More, More, More."

Bananarama in 1993: Sara and Keren

In 1993, Bananarama parted ways with their long-time record label. They took a year off and came back in 1995 with a eurodance album that they recorded with their own finances and shopped it around to various record labels in different countries. 

1995 Ultra Violet album cover

The album was called Ultra Violet in most regions, and I Found Love in Japan. In fact, the Japanese were the only ones to get the single "I Found Love." Unfortunately, that video is not on the DVD. The other two singles from the album were "Every Shade Of Blue" and "Take Me To Your Heart." Both of the later singles were big club hits in America.

Bananarama in 1996: Keren and Sara

In 1998, Keren and Sara reunited with original-member Siobhan for a one-off song ... a cover of ABBA's "Waterloo" and a video made for a TV Show called "A Song For Eurotrash." Even though the group received lots of press during this time, no official single was released. And sadly, the video is not included on the DVD.

Single covers 1992-2001*

In 2001, the duo released their next album called Exotica only in France. The album contained some news songs as well as remakes of some of their previous hits. The first single was quite controversial as it was an electro-RnB remake of Wham's "Careless Whisper." Fans generally don't like it and thought it was the wrong direction for the group. Having said that, I don't think it is that bad. The video was good, but it did not make the DVD. Another promo was sent out for the song "If", but there was no other promotion around it. 

2001 Exotica album cover

In February of 2002, Bananarama had a 20th Anniversary Show at G-A-Y in the historic Astoria theatre in London. I saved all my money and went to the show. It was great meeting fans from around the world. And after the show, I got to go back stage and show and meet not only Keren and Sara, but Siobhan as well. As Siobhan joined them on stage for the encore.

Keren, Davearama, Sara and Siobhan in 2002.

Things looked up in 2002 as the group recorded the theme song for a UK TV Show called Is Harry on the Boat? The song was called "Love, Leave, Forget" and it was amazing, despite the awkward sax solo. But sadly, it wasn't released a single or even a promo.

Bananarama in 2002: Sara and Keren

Near the end of 2004, a new Solasso remix of "Really Saying Something" started dominating dancefloors in the UK. Pretty soon a video was made with models from the UK's Top Model TV Show. Keren and Sara filmed their part to be on the TV monitors. The video is not on the DVD.

2005 Drama album cover

2005 saw the group return to UK charts with two singles in the Top 30. "Move In My Direction" and "Look On The Floor (Hypnotic Tango)" were singles from their comeback album Drama

In 2006, the Angel City Remix of "Look On The Floor (Hypnotic Tango)" went to #2 in the US Dance Charts. That summer, they also came to the US to promote Drama. My hubby, Arturo, and I met up with them in Long Beach and the next day in Los Angeles.

Keren, Davearama and Sara in Long Beach, 2006.

Keren and Arturo in L.A., 2006

Daveararama and Keren, 2006

During the next couple of years, Bananarama continued touring even doing summer festivals in the UK with a live band.

Single covers 2005-2010

The next album came in 2009 and was a glorious elecrtopop album called Viva. It contained the singles "Love Comes" and "Love Don't Live Here." 

2009 "Viva" album cover

In December of 2010, the group released a Christmas single called "Baby It's Christmas." Unfortunately no video was made.

2010 single cover for "Baby It's Christmas"

That leads us to 2012! I can't explain why they are my favourite group. A lot of it is the music that is the soundtrack of my life. I also love that they aren't the most amazing singers. And they have a fun, carefree attitude that I love.

We have some upcoming NEWS about Bananarama. Stay tuned to POPtastic Confessions!

30 Years of Bananarama CD/DVD is available for purchase on Amazon. 

Go buy it now!

And check out their official website: www.bananarama.co.uk

* Waterloo was not an official single.