Bananarama

Bananarama
Release date
01 January 1970
Bananarama
01 January 1970 |

The most successful British girl-group in pop history, Bananarama formed in
London in late 1981. Drawing equal inspiration for their name from the
children’s television program The Banana Splits and the Roxy Music song
“Pyjamarama,” the trio comprised lifelong friends Keren Woodward and Sarah
Dallin along with Siobhan Fahey, whom Dallin befriended at the London College
of Fashion. After getting their start singing at friends’ parties and at
nightclubs (where they performed accompanied by backing tapes — none of the
women played their own instruments), they came to the attention of ex-Sex
Pistols drummer Paul Cook, who produced Bananarama’s first single, a cover of
Swahili Black Blood’s “Aie A Mwana.”
After the group backed Fun Boy Three on the single “It Ain’t What You Do, It’s
the Way You Do It,” the Three returned the favor for 1982’s “He Was Really
Sayin’ Somethin’,” a cover of the 1965 Velvelettes song that was the first of
Bananarama’s 26 U.K. chart smashes. While their initial hits, including “Shy
Boy,” “Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)” and “Cruel Summer” (their first U.S.
smash) were roundly dismissed as fluffy pop fare, the success of 1984’s
rape-themed release “Robert DeNiro’s Waiting” convinced the group to tackle
more serious topics; however, the follow-up single, “Rough Justice” — a song
protesting political tensions in Northern Ireland — bombed, and the trio’s
career stalled.
In 1986, Bananarama’s fortunes improved considerably when they joined forces
with the production team of Stock, Aitken & Waterman, who produced the album
Wow!; the group’s most successful outing to date, the LP’s cover of the
Shocking Blue’s “Venus” was an international chart-topper, and both “Love in
the First Degree” and “I Heard a Rumour” were major hits as well.
In 1987, Fahey left the group after marrying Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart; she
later resurfaced as one half of the duo Shakespear’s Sister. Woodward and
Dallin, meanwhile, enlisted pal Jacquie O’Sullivan, formerly of the Sheilagh
Sisters, to fill the void. After a long layoff, the revamped group teamed with
new producer Youth to issue the 1991 album Pop Life, which featured a cover of
the Doobie Brothers’ “Long Train Running.” Shortly after the album’s release,
O’Sullivan too exited, and Woodward and Dallin forged on as a duo for 1992’s
Please Yourself and 1995’s Ultra Violet. ~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide