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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bananarama albums re-issued

Dear Poptastic Readers,

I'm sure you know by now that Bananarama are my all-time favourite group. Last year, I even wrote a blog entry on the 30 Years of Bananarama. Well, their first six albums have been remastered and given the deluxe treatment with two discs of music and one DVD of their music videos and some performances. All six are must-have for Bananarama fans. But for the casual listener, are they worth it? I'll review them here.

1. Deep Sea Skiving




Deep Sea Skiving is the debut album of Sara, Keren and Siobhan ... aka Bananarama. It was released in 1983. It contained the singles "Aie A Mwana", "Really Saying Something", "Shy Boy", "Cheers Then" and "Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)." The re-issued album contains the original album plus all of the b-sides and many, many mixes — some never before released or available on CD. The DVD will have have you laughing with the live performances. Bananarama were so funny back then. The best performance was of "Na Na Hey Hey" on Saturday Superstore with little kids joining in on the dance routine. Classic!

2. Bananarama (self-titled)




For their sophomore album, they just called the album Bananarama. This album featured the singles "Cruel Summer", "Robert De Niro's Waiting", "Rough Justice", "Hotline To Heaven" and "The Wild Life." The re-issues includes the original tracklisting (pre-Wild Life), but don't fret. The album version, single version and an unreleased extended version (with different vocals) of "The Wild Life" all appear here. Plus many, many mixes. What seems odd is the "Cruel Summer '89" mixes are included here. Yes, they were done with the original vocal, but it seems really out of place to be included here as it was released five years after this album. As for the DVD, there's a nice live version of the girls singing "Michael, Row The Boat Ashore."

3. True Confessions




Bananarama recorded the third album True Confessions with producers Jolley & Swain, whom they had used for the sophomore album and most of the first album. When they were done, the record company didn't think they had any hits here. After the first single in 1985 titled "Do Not Disturb" didn't even make the top 30. It stalled at #31. Bananarama wanted to record "Venus" in the style of "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)." So they went to the production team Stock, Aitken & Waterman (SAW) to record it. It took some persuading, but they did it. And "Venus" was a worldwide hit. It went to #1 in six countries — including the US! The album featured two more singles "More Than Physical" and "A Trick Of The Night." The re-issues debut two unreleased tracks that were on the album before SAW were involved. Again, there are b-sides and many, many mixes. The DVD includes all the videos as well as some performances. The funniest being the dance routine to "More Than Physical." Oh my goodness, it is funny!

4. WOW!




Their fourth album WOW! was recorded entirely with SAW. The album has a happy feel to it and almost any song could have been a single. The singles here included "I Heard A Rumour", "Love In The First Degree", "I Can't Help It" and "I Want You Back." The latter was re-recorded with new-girl Jacquie after Siobhan quit the group after the third single. However, the single version is not featured on the CDs. Just the DVD. In fact, the DVD includes the videos from The Greatest Hits Collection era — all with Jacquie. As for the live performances, you get to see Jacquie's first-ever performance with the group, and a hilarious performance of "Nathan Jones" in which Keren messes up the dance routine during the second verse and her and Sara keep laughing. Thank goodness everyone was lip synching back in the 80s!

5. Pop Life




Between WOW! and Pop Life, Bananarama released The Greatest Hits Collection and went on a world tour in 1989. They tried working with SAW again, but they weren't satisfied with the results (although two SAW tracks did make the album). So they turned to producer Youth for a different approach. As a result, Pop Life has something for everyone: pop, pop rock, acid rock, reggae, trance, funk, and flamenco. And funnily enough, it all blends well and the album is a fan favourite among many fans. It includes the singles "Only Your Love", "Preacher Man", "Long Train Running" and "Tripping On Your Love." The re-issues feature an unreleased track called "Some Boys." The DVD contains the videos to the singles as well as a hilarious performance of "Only Your Love." Jacquie seemed to forget the dance routine, but she was happy and having a great time and it is highly enjoyable to watch. The other performance is of "Preacher Man" and Keren hits her microphone back in place ... another classic Bananarama moment.

6. Please Yourself




After the fourth single from Pop Life, Jacquie left the group. Sara and Keren continued on as a duo. And to make the record company happy, they returned to a slimmed-down SAW only now without Aitken. So just Stock and Waterman. The plan was to do an "ABBA-Banana" theme. Although Keren and Sara weren't crazy about it. Some fans saw this as a step backwards for the group. It definitely wasn't as edgy as Pop Life, however, Please Yourself is a lovely disco-pop album. It features the singles "Movin' On", "Last Thing On My Mind" and "More, More, More." I find the extra tracks on this re-issue some of the best. There is a Spanish version of "Movin' On" and an unreleased single version for "Is She Good To You" as well as a lot of other unreleased mixes.

All in all, all six re-issued albums are amazing. They all have fantastic booklets with lots of photos and lyrics as well as liner notes from Tom Parker, the executive producer who made all of these re-issues possible.

I just hope and pray that Tom Parker and his wisdom can get access to re-issue Bananarama's next four albums: Ultra Violet, Exotica, Drama and Viva. It might be a bit harder as they were all on different record labels. But where there's a will, there's a way.




In the meantime, head on over to Amazon.co.uk and get these re-issues. Yes, you have to get them from the UK, but don't worry ... the DVDs are region-free so they will play in your DVD players. You won't be sorry.

Cheers then,
—Davearama

P.S. They make a great Christmas gift!

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