Monday, July 11, 2011
Enjoying a Cruel Summer with Bananarama
With the mercury rising up toward the triple-digit mark, one song keeps playing in my head as I walk to my office in New York City's Flatiron District: "Cruel Summer" by Bananarama. This 1983 girl-group classic has aged remarkably well, and captures the sound of the hot city streets better than any song I can think of, with the possible exception of the Lovin' Spoonful's "Summer in the City."
It probably has a lot to do with the video, which features the three lovely lasses galavanting around early 80s pre-gentrification Big Apple. It was right around the time I started going into the city for wild times with my high school friends and that's exactly how I remember it looking - only we weren't hanging out with Bananarama.
Whilst contemplating Bananarama today, it occured to me that all of their songs are sung by all three members together - Siobhan Fahey, Keren Woodward and Sara Dallin. No one ever takes a lead vocal or sings a soaring counter-melody. Every word is sung by all of them, all at once.
Bananarama had a string of radio friendly classics in the 80s, and sold over 40 million records worldwide. Fahey left the group in 1988 after marrying Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics (Talk about your Banana Splits! - thanks, I'll be here all week), but the other two still perform as Bananarama to this day.
Here's another favorite from their 1983 record Deep Sea Skiving called "Really Saying Something," recorded with Fun Boy Three, an accurately named spinoff group from ska pioneers The Specials.
Get a bunch o' Bananarama on iTunes here.