London, 1984

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


As Bananarama’s breakthrough here in the States, Bananarama is a thought provoking album about life that manages to share some insights about fame in the process. Tony Swain and Steve Jolley are much improved in their production abilities this time around, so much so that it is hard believe this came only one year after Bananarama’s clunky debut album, Deep Sea Skiving. While that effort may have had its charming moments, it’s nothing compared to this sophomore release.

The fan favorite “Cruel Summer” starts off the album on an all-too-familiar note. It holds up as a single, but it just isn’t representative of the other material to follow. If anything, it is the Bananarama sound of old. “Rough Justice” is the sound of Bananarama being totally revamped; as the first Bananarama song that really made me drop everything, sit up and listen, “Rough Justice” finds the female trio getting serious for a change. It has an important message about child abuse, features great instrumentation and ends up being the best track on the album. The child theme continues with the magical closing ballad, “Through A Child’s Eyes.” my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Recently re-released after being out of print for far too long, Bananarama now includes the forgotten single “The Wild Life” from the movie of the same name. This is an added bonus to an already superlative package. Also to be found is the passable yet overlong song about drug abuse, “Hot Line To Heaven,” and the single about meeting their matinee idol Robert DeNiro for the first time, “Robert DeNiro’s Waiting.” Another favorite of mine is the peppy throwback tribute to the girl groups of a bygone era, “Dream Baby.”

The two songs that could possibly be labeled as filler are the primitive sounding “King Of The Jungle” and the over-the-top “State I’m In,” which can only be described as the theme to Girls Gone Wild. It’s no wonder that one of the girls, Siobhan Fahey, would grow tired of performing such lightweight and forgettable pop fare and move on to bigger and better things in forming the far more substantial duo Shakespeare’s Sister. It also didn’t hurt when she married musical genius, David A. Stewart of Eurythmics fame.

After Siobhan left, Keren and Sarah would attempt to continue on without her, but things went pretty much downhill from that point on. With the possible exception of their No. 1 hit “Venus” in 1986, this is as good as it ever got for Bananarama.

Rating: A-

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© 2007 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of London, and is used for informational purposes only.