The mighty Bananarama are the best girl band of all time, no doubt about it. And here are a couple of dozen reasons why in this fabulous collection of their most well-known hit singles.
It's great to hear the rich harmonies right from the very beginning with Siobhan, thru Jackie, and to the hugely talented duo Sarah and Keren have continued to be since 1992. The quality of songwriting and performance never dips for a moment, and in fact it could be argued that in their most recent recordings - the brilliant massive hits that never were, 'Love Comes', and 'Love Don't Live Here' - they have produced the best material of their entire career. No mean feat when you consider the strength of the string of famous hit singles from the 80s and 90s. It's also refreshing to hear the two remaining members sing solo parts on the more recent material and demonstrate their strong and characteristic vocals.
It's often forgotten that all three original members and the two remaining members co-penned almost all of the tracks they recorded, and classics like 'Cruel Summer', 'Robert De Niro's Waiting', 'Look on the Floor', and 'Love in the First Degree' will never lose their sparkle or pop gem status. Even the handful of covers like 'Venus', 'Na Na Hey Hey' and 'Really Saying Something' are given new invigorating life and lifted to superior heights compared to the originals.
What's probably the top pull here though is the addition of a DVD of 2 hours plus of nearly every video the band ever made. This is what all the fans have wanted for many years, and it's no disappointment. The early videos show three girls very much in charge of their image and expression, often tongue in cheek with lots of nudging and giggling, and ultimately so charming. They mature as sex sirens as the 80s progress, but never lose their sense of humour or allow anyone to sell them as mere pretty packaging. They rank with, and even predate, Madonna as women who set a trend for ensuring the woman occupies the strong role in their videos, with men usually appearing as pretty trinkets or dancers who serve to backlight the talent of the female singer. Unlike Madonna, however, they do it naturally, and without any noticeable guile or calculation - great role models!! But what's also fantastic about the DVD is that across 35 tracks you get to see and hear all the singles not included on the CD and realise that even when a song didn't make the top 20 it was still a bloody great track. "Cheers Then' and 'Trick of the Night' are stunning ballads, one naive, one bursting with power and confidence, while "Hotline to Heaven' and 'Rough Justice' show just how good their writing talents for more serious pop fare were even in their early days.
These women deserve so much more credit than they've ever been given, and could give any current girl group more than a run for their money in the melody and catchy hooks stakes. Let's hope this 30 year celebration is the big success it should be and reminds everyone just how brilliant it is to have Bananarama as part of the British music scene we are all so justly proud of.