For modern audiences Bananarama might be a bit of anachronism, a trio of female singers who sound good…well there has been plenty of them over the last thirty years and you would be entitled to say so what?
Bananarama though were different, they had something that the other female singers, they can’t be called girl bands as when do any of them ever pick up an instrument in anger, today have forgotten, for they had bundles of attitude which endeared them to their early fans and they maintained that popularity when they were taken up the Stock, Aitkin and Waterman processing plant.
Aside from Atomic Kitten who do sound as if they mean everything they sing, the women of Bananarama really do knock the spots of everything that has come and gone since the 1990’s. The Spice Girls, perhaps with Melanie Chisholm excepted who has gone on to make a fantastic career in musical theatre and Emma Bunton who does a decent turn as a radio presenter, extoled the virtues of ‘girl power’, laudable but so neatly packaged, so tight an arrangement that the wrapper has barely the time to set before people are taken in by yet another mass marketing tool. What Bananarama first bought to the scene was ‘woman entitlement’, pure, unadulterated and marvellous woman power. The realisation that a woman didn’t have to act demure or vulnerable to get an army of fans was mind blowing.
To celebrate 30 years of Bananarama, the two remaining members of the pop trio that took the music world by storm, Keren Woodward and Sara Dalin, (Siobhan Fahey and her replacement Jacquie O’ Sullivan having left a while ago) have released an album which says just that, 30 years Of Bananarama. With a few exceptions and songs missed out, this double disc of songs and videos charts the women’s music with a detail which could be called a lavish retrospection.
With songs such as Shy Boy and Really Saying Something from the excellent debut album Deep Sea Skiving, tunes from the True Confessions album where the trio first took up with Stock, Aitkin and Waterman label and which would ultimately lead Siobhan to leave the band over the future of the music, this album will resonate with fans of the trio who went every step of the journey with them.
There are even songs from the final studio album, Viva, where the two remaining members have become a force once more stamped throughout the album. This is a timely reminder that some of the role models are only ever truly in it for the fame. With Bananarama, it was a case that substance overshadowed such pettiness.
They might not have been the best at what they did but they certainly brightened up the charts with their insistence that women in pop be taken seriously, and quite right too.
Ian D. Hall