There are some delightful moments for Bananarama fans (that’s me) in Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward’s music memoir, Really Saying Something.
Those moments centre around Dallin and Woodward’s uncomplicated delight, surprise and gratitude for their success. Yes, there were tight times and fame did not come immediately but the story of how Bananarama came to be all reads as a bit of a lark.
Keren describes the time before getting a record deal and an advance –
There was this short but weird period when all three of us were signing on the dole while simultaneously gracing the nation’s television screens, with everyone thinking we’d hit the big time.
Of course there’s mention of Siobhan (and Dave Stewart, who is essentially the Yoko Ono of Bananarama), but I’m none the wiser as to what really happened.
In some ways, ‘none the wiser’ summarises much of the book, because although there’s some spectacular name-dropping (they hung out with Andy Warhol, Madonna, Sex Pistols, Richard Branson, Michael Caine, Prince, and the list goes on and on and on), we learn very little about how the girls felt, how fame changed them, or what their family and friends thought of their success. As a result, the book can feel like a bit of a roll call; a chronological list of album releases; and comprehensive coverage of what they wore and when.
The book was saved from being an extended Wikipedia entry by a few gems – getting a late night call from Bob Geldof to join Band Aid; the pure ‘eighties-ness’ of it all (tearing up the town with Duran Duran, and clubbing with Boy George); and their gorgeous account of their friendship with George Michael (and Andrew Ridgeley, who Woodward was in a relationship with for 16 years). Keren tells of a costume party that George hosted, complete with a cover band, “…who found themselves with plenty of guest singers among the partygoers.”
Bananarama have been on the music scene for so long that it’s perhaps easy to lose sight of their impact. But, they hold the record for the highest number of chart entries by an all-female group (30 singles in the Top 50 between 1982 and 2009), and decades later still tour to sell-out concerts. Importantly (and I know because I witnessed it first hand), they still have loads of fun and are clearly the best of friends.
3/5 Probably one for fans… But who doesn’t love Bananarama?!
PS. My top three Bananarama songs (sorry Venus fans)-
1. Love in the First Degree
2. I Want You Back
3. I Heard a Rumour