Earlier this month, Bananarama fans everywhere were excited to get a singles box set from the group's time with London Records: 1981–1993. That is a whopping 33 singles during that time! (There were actually 34 if you count the Canadian 12" for "Set On You." More on that later.)
The box set is AMAZING! And once again, it was headed up by Tom Parker, the main man who brought us the fantastic Bananarama album reissues as well as Megarama: The Mixes, which was released earlier this year.
The box set comes with a lovely booklet with tons of photos, lyrics, release information and a wonderful biography written by Tom Parker. There is also a double-sided poster included with Sara, Keren and Siobhan on one side and Sara, Keren and Jacquie on the other side.
Click here to read more about the history of Bananarama. Also, check out their wonderful official website: Bananarama.co.uk.
Let's explore the 33 CDs! The images here were scanned by Paul Jackson for the WOW Bananarama Facebook group. Click on the name of the song if you would like to see the music video or hear the song.
1. "Aie A Mwana" September 1981, UK #93, US dance chart #66
The group's first single was remake of a song sung in Swahili originally recorded by Black Blood. Fun fact: The girls didn't have the lyrics, so they listened to the Black Blood record and spelled out the words phonetically and sang it that way!
2. "It Ain't What You Do ..." February 1982, UK #4, US dance chart #49
Terry Hall from The Fun Boy Three saw Bananarama's photo in The Face magazine and asked Bananarama to be on their next record: A shambolic remake of Sy Oliver's 1939 classic.
3. "Really Saying Something" March 1982, UK #5, US #16 dance charts
After the success on the Fun Boy Three single, the FB3 returned the favor and they were on Bananarama's next single: a remake of The Velvettes' 1964 classic "Really Saying Something."
4. "Shy Boy" July 1982, UK #4, US #83 (dance chart #14)
Although this was their first song that was not a remake. It was written by their producers Jolley & Swain. However, the track was initially called "Big Red Motorbike" but Bananarama convinced them to rewrite the lyrics.
5. "He's Got Tact" October 1982, Japan #37
This was Bananarama's first single that the girls wrote. However, it was only released in Japan because it was the jingle they wrote for a Honda scooter commercial Bananarama did with Peter Fonda.
6. "Cheers Then" November 1982, UK #45
A ballad of sorts and penned by Bananarama. It was their first flop since their success. The video has a Sound of Music theme as it was filmed in Austria. There is a slight printing error on the front cover as you can see the words "Do Not Disturb" on the name Bananarama. Oh well. At least it is hard to see!
7. "Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)" March 1983, UK #5, US dance chart #17
The record company insisted the group record another cover to get them back to the charts. It worked. This was a remake of Steam's 1969 classic. This was the last single from their debut album Deep Sea Skiving.
8. "Cruel Summer" June 1983, UK #8, US #9
This was the song that put Bananarama on the international map. And how sweet it was that the song was written by the girls. It has often been on lists as one of the best summer songs ever! Also the first single from their sophomore album simply titled Bananarama.
9. "Robert De Niro's Waiting ..." February 1984, UK #3, US #95
Another song the girls wrote! It's actually a song about date rape wrapped up in a poppy melody. After the release of the song, the girls actually met up with Robert De Niro who rang them up to meet them for drinks in a pub. It was a huge hit in the UK.
10. "Rough Justice" May 1984, UK #23
This song Bananarama wrote after their friend was shot dead. This politically charged tune wrapped up in a pop melody was an attempt to show the public they had a serious side, too. It was a moderate hit on the UK charts.
11. "King Of The Jungle" 1984, Japan-only release
This single was released in Japan only. With no video and no promotion it didn't chart. Did the cover foreshadow the upcoming split with Siobhan?
12. "The Wild Life" November 1984, US #73
This was the theme song for the movie The Wild Life. Neither the movie nor the song were huge hits. It wasn't released in the UK. This is technically out of order in the box set as it was released after the next single ...
13. "Hotline To Heaven" October 1984, UK #58
This was the last single from the Bananarama album in the UK. This time the subject matter was about drugs. It was pretty much considered a flop.
14. "Do Not Disturb" August 1985, UK #31
This was the first single from the upcoming third album True Confessions. The producers Jolley & Swain wrote the song for them and insisted it be the first single. Bananarama wasn't thrilled about it, but did it anyway. It didn't even reach the Top 30, and the record company didn't see many hits from the upcoming album.
15. "Venus" May 1986, UK #8, US #1
After a string of non-hits, the girls wanted to remake The Shocking Blue's 1970 #1 hit "Venus" in the high-energy style of Dead Or Alive's "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)." So Bananarama went to the producers, Stock, Aitken & Waterman (SAW), of that track and told them what they wanted to do. Initially SAW said no. Bananarama insisted. The result: Their biggest hit of their career. #1 in the US and in many other countries. And at the time, was a few songs that went to #1 twice by different artists.
16. "More Than Physical" August 1986, UK #41, US #73 (#5 dance charts)
The follow-up single was also produced and co-written with the girls by SAW. It wasn't promoted much in the UK as the girls were in the US promoting "Venus." It's a great song with a lot of energy. Sadly, it was just always overshadowed by "Venus."
17. "A Trick Of The Night" January 1987 UK #32, US #76 (#29 dance charts)
Their first ballad since "Cheers Then." This was a song written by Jolley & Swain and the girls absolutely loved the track. The record company had them re-record the song with SAW but the result was not as lush as the original. But like their previous ballad, it didn't chart well. Thus, Bananarama no longer released ballads.
17.5 "Set On You" 1987, Canada 12" release only
A strange song. The vocals are clips from other songs. This release wasn't included in the box set. The song was initially a b-side for "A Trick Of The Night." Thus, it was just included in the box set on that CD. Plus, it didn't chart in Canada. And the cover was basically the same as "Do Not Disturb." So, it was fine not to include it with a CD of its own.
18. "I Heard A Rumour" July 1987, UK #14, US #4 (#3 dance chart)
Since "Venus" had been a smashing success, the group decided to record a whole album with SAW. This was their first single from WOW! album. Just like "Venus", this was a much bigger hit in the US than the UK — giving Bananarama their third and final top-ten hit on the pop charts in the US.
19. "Love In The First Degree" October 1987, UK #3, US #48 (#10 dance chart)
Their second single from WOW! was a massive hit in the UK. Sadly, it didn't go to #1. The song was even nominated for Best British Single at the BRIT awards. They lost to Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up." Their performance at the award show was Siobhan's last performance with Bananarama before she left the group.
20. "I Can't Help It" December 1987, UK #20, US #47 (#7 dance chart)
This was Siobhan's last single before leaving the group. Siobhan was not happy with the new SAW direction the group had taken. She had also married Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics and living in L.A. She would eventually start her own group called Shakespear's Sister.
21. "I Want You Back" April 1988, UK #5
Keren and Sara asked former Shillelagh Sister's singer Jacquie O'Sullivan to join the group. They quickly re-recorded "I Want You Back" for the last single from WOW! It provided much interest and gave the group another top-ten hit. Sadly, it wasn't released in the US. Here is Jacquie's first performance with Bananarama.
22. "Love, Truth & Honesty" September 1988, UK #23, US #89 (#26 dance chart)
This was the first new song with Jacquie and the first for the upcoming Greatest Hits Collection. While a great song, I think it suffered for sounding too similar to previous singles. I love the cover!
23. "Nathan Jones" November 1988, UK #15
Bananarama almost released another original song called "One In A Million." However, it was canned and never released. Instead, they re-recorded The Supremes' 1971 song "Nathan Jones." Bananarama had recorded a version of this for the WOW! album. But the single was given a complete makeover with all new music structure and vocals. There were US promos sent out, but no proper release.
24. "Help!" February 1989, UK #3
UK comedian duo French & Saunders did a spoof of Bananarama on their TV show. Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and Kathy Burke called themselves Lananeeneenoonoo and hilarity ensued. Bananarama found it funny, too. So they joined forces to record a charity single for Comic Relief: a remake of The Beatles' "Help!" Again, it was their third UK single to reach #3, thus never giving them a UK #1. This was also their last UK top-ten hit. The "straight version" (without Lananeeneenoonoo's funny bits) was sent to the US, but it didn't chart. They also recorded a talking b-side with Lananeeneenoonoo.
25. "Cruel Summer '89" June 1989, UK #19
To coincide with the group's 1989 World Tour, "Cruel Summer" was remixed and given a trendy "Swing Beat" makeover. A lot of fans thought this was re-recorded with Jacquie, but it wasn't. The original vocals were used for the remixes. And the single version has a middle vocal part that was recorded back in 1983, but left out of the in the original version.
26. "Megarama '89" 1989, France #17
Released around Europe, this megamix of previous hits didn't make a lot of waves. There were also two different mixes.
27. "Only Your Love" June 1990, UK #27
After promoting The Greatest Hits Collection with the 1989 World Tour, the girls left SAW producers to come up with a new, more modern sound. They turned to their friend former Killing Joke bassist Youth, to produce their next album Pop Life. Sadly "Only Your Love" wasn't the hit they were hoping for and it wasn't released in the US. Did the cover foreshadow the split with Jacquie?
28. "Preacher Man" December 1990, UK #20
One of my favourite songs! It did better than the previous single, but it still didn't make the top ten in the UK. It had a great dance routine, too!
29. "Long Train Running" April 1991, UK #30
As usual, the record company wanted a remake to help get them up in the charts. So, the group recorded a flamenco version of the Doobie Brothers' 1973 hit "Long Train Running." To get the Spanish guitar sound, they collaborated with The Gypsy Kings. However, they used a different name: Alma de Noche. This was released in the US, but it didn't chart.
30. "Tripping On Your Love" August 1991, UK #76, US dance chart #14
This trance-pop single is the only Bananarama single to feature a rapper! It also had the most remixes of any of their singles. And, it was their biggest UK flop since their debut single. It did well on the US dance charts, though. It was also the last single from Pop Life, and the last Bananarama single with Jacquie. Funnily enough, the cover shows Jacquie looking into the future.
31. "Movin' On" August 1992, UK #24
After parting ways with Jacquie, Bananarama carried on as a duo. They went back to the SAW producers, although now minus the A (Aitken). Stock and Waterman gave the girls next album Please Yourself an ABBA feel ... Waterman often refers to it is ABBA-Banana. This album and all of its singles were not released in the US.
32. "Last Thing On My Mind" November 1992, UK #71
Another flop for the group. However, Bananarama would get the last laugh as the song was covered in 1998 by a UK group called Steps. Their remake went to #6 in the UK, giving Keren and Sara some nice writing royalties.
33. "More, More, More" March 1993, UK #24
The record company wanted another cover. This time, Bananarama chose the Andrea True Connection's 1976 hit "More, More, More." Although a cover, the original version only had one verse that was repeated twice. Keren and Sara wrote a second verse giving their cover a personal touch and getting a writing credit. The single version was remixed from the Please Yourself album.
This is where the box set ends. As Bananarama parted ways with with their record label London Records after the release of "More, More, More." However, there was some discussion of making "Is She Good To You" a single. With that in mind ...
34. "Is She Good To You?"
This song from the Please Yourself album was remixed into a single version. That is available on the last reissue of the album. It would have made a glorious single. So in my dream world, it would have been one! I made the cover.
Of course, Bananarama continued. Since 1993, they have released four more albums and 13 singles/promos/EPs. I wish there would have been more singles from Bananarama during this time. Please indulge my dream sequence here.
Let's explore my dreamland, shall we? If we were to have another singles box set that went from 1995–2012, I would love for it to look something like this ...
Released in Japan only, the ROZi-mix sounds like Real McCoy's "Another Night." Thankfully, the original version is much more relaxed and sexy. In Japan, the album was also called I Found Love. The single was only available as a 3" CD and a 12" vinyl. The image used was not original. I made the image above since the 12" didn't have an image and the 3" CD used the same photo as "Every Shade Of Blue."
2. "Every Shade Of Blue" August 1995, US dance chart #41, Canada #35
Even though it only went to #41 in the US dance charts, it was pretty massive in the gay clubs with lots of mixes aimed right at the dance floor. The album Ultra Violet/Ultraviolet was released almost everywhere except for the UK. The album was produced by Gary Miller, who the girls worked with back in their SAW days. While it does contain a few ballads, it mostly is a Eurodance album.
3. "Take Me To Your Heart" February 1996
This didn't actually chart in the US because it wasn't commercially released. However, it was hugely popular in the gay clubs, especially the Tony De Vit Techno Mix. The radio version was nicely remixed from the Ultra Violet ballad album version. It even got a favorable writeup in Billboard magazine:
4. "Prove Your Love" 1996 promo
5. "You've Really Got Something" 1996 Released on the Ultra Violet album
6. "Waterloo" 1998, Released on the album A Song for Eurotrash
7. "Blue Sky" 1999, Not released
In 1999, Bananarama toured the UK with Culture Club. The tour was called the Rewind Tour. At the shows, Bananarama performed a new song called "Blue Sky" and announced it was the next single. Sadly, it never materialized.
8. "Careless Whisper" January 2001, France promo
The lead single from the French-only album Exotica was a remake of Wham's 1984 hit "Careless Whisper." A video was made and a TV performance in France. However, it was never made commercially available, only the promos exist.
9. "If" May 2001, France promo
This was only a promo in France. Sadly, there was no promotion or even a video. Still, it is a funky fabulous song.
10. "Love, Leave, Forget" 2002, On the soundtrack to Is Harry On The Boat?
In February of 2002, Bananarama celebrated their 20th Anniversary of their first top-ten hit "It Ain't What You Do ..." Siobhan even joined Keren and Sara on stage for the event. Later that year, Bananarama supplied the theme song for the TV show Is Harry On The Boat? A video of them in the studio was filmed for Japanese TV. Sadly, it wasn't a single. Cover art by Pascal Maurice.
11. "Really Saying Something" (vs. Solasso)* November 2004, UK promo
This was a promo that made its rounds during the winter of 2004 in the UK. It had an ugly yellow cover so I made this one for it. However, Bananarama did make a video for it with some models lip synching to it while Keren and Sara were on the monitors. The Solasso mix would eventually end up on the Drama album so that the group would get royalties.
12. "Move In My Direction" July 2005, UK #14, US dance chart #14
13. "Look On The Floor (Hypnotic Tango)" November 2005, UK #26, US dance chart #2
For their next single, they did an interpolation using the chorus of My Mine's 1983 song "Hypnotic Tango." Bananarama's version was a minor hit in the UK, as radio snubbed it. However, in 2006, the Angel City Radio Mix dominated the dance radio airwaves in the US. In San Francisco, our dance radio station said it was the most requested song of the year! Sadly, it was the last single from the Drama album.
14. "Feel For You" 2005, Released on the Drama album
I interviewed both Keren in 2005 and Sara in 2006 for the Pop Life fanzine. (Read the interview with each by clicking on their name.) Both said they would have loved for "Feel For You" to have been the third single. Sadly, it never materialized. But I made a cover for it anyway!
15. "Frequency" 2005, Released on the Drama album
"Frequency" is one of the standout tracks on Drama. It is amazing song that could have easily been a single. I made the cover.
16 & 17. "Your Love Is Like A Drug"/"Don't Step On My Groove" 2005, Released on the Drama album
Both of these fantastic songs on the Drama album could have easily been singles. I dreamed them as a double A-side, and used the same photo for both of the covers that I made.
18. "Love Comes" September 2009, UK #44
This was the first single from their Viva album. It was produced by Ian Masterson giving them a wonderful electropop album. The video was absolutely amazing!
19. "Love Don't Live Here" April 2010, UK #114
This was a very late follow-up second single from Viva. A great song, it was just released a bit late in the album promotion. It was also the last single from Viva.
20. "The Runner" 2009, Released on the Viva album
There were Buzz Junkies remixes done in early 2010, but they ended up being released on the 12" of "Love Don't Live Here" as well as the digital bundle from that same single. I wished it had been a double A-side. So, I took the 12" cover of "Love Don't Live Here" and changed it to "The Runner." And yes, this is a remake of The Three Degrees' 1979 hit.
21. "Rapture" 2009, Released on the Viva album
Another remake? Yes. But it is really good. No, it's not the Blondie song. Instead it is a remake of the 2001 dance hit from iiO. I love it!
22. "Dum Dum Boy"
Even though the Viva had some covers, this isn't a cover of the David Bowie song by the same name. Instead, it is a Bananarama original that is crazy awesome!
23. "Baby It's Christmas" December 2010
Even though Bananarama was part of Band Aid's 1984 "Do They Know It's Christmas?" (And even part of Band Aid II's version), Bananarama never had a Christmas song. So finally they wrote their own. It's tears on the dancefloor and fantastic!
24. "Now Or Never" September 2012, US dance chart #4
This was an EP released to coincide with their 2012 US tour. It featured two new FABULOUS songs as well as a remake of Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger." This was also produced by Ian Masterson, thus making it the perfect follow-up to Viva. If only it had been a full album!
25. "La La Love" 2012, Released on the Now Or Never EP
"La La Love" was the second track on the Now Or Never EP. And it was a wonderful song with single potential. I made the cover, and I'm not crazy about it. If only I had the wonderful fonts.
Thanks for indulging in my dream sequence! If you like Bananarama, you owe it to yourself to buy the box set. It is expensive, but there are 33 CDs! And there are lots of unreleased remixes, instrumental tracks as well as radio jingles. And maybe if it sells well enough, we'll get more Bananarama goodies. And who knows? Maybe one day a second box set. However, right now we just need new music from the ladies!