How To Do a Cover Version

It’s hard to dislike Bananarama (and, before we go any further, I don’t).

There’s three distinct phases to their career:

  • The early years, when they occasionally duetted with Funboy 3, loved vodka as much as they loved stonewashed jeans with rips at the knee, and weren’t overly fussed on the concept of harmonies;
  • The Stock Aitken & Waterman years, when Siobhan (eventually) jumped ship to be replaced by Jacqui, who never really seemed to fit;
  • The reformed/nostalgia years, where they could release new material, which nobody was really interested in, as long as they did Robert de Niro’s Waiting (Talking Italian!!!) at their 80s reboot gigs.

It’s a record from that 2nd phase that we’re looking at today, and here’s the original:

Shocking Blue – Venus

Now, I love that version, and, contrary to popular belief, that has nothing to do with the cleavage on show on the sleeve.

Legend has it that the Bananas (the ‘Ramas? What do we call them in truncated pop band name land?) approached the curators of The Hit Factory, and asked that they make them sound like Dead or Alive’s You Spin Me Round (Like a Record):

Dead Or Alive – You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)

When they were instructed to sing Venus, so the story goes, the ‘Rama girls were less than enamoured with the idea, but did it anyway. They slunk away from the recording session, concerned that they may have made a wrong turn.

They need not have been so pessimistic, for this was the outcome, their biggest hit:

Bananarama – Venus

I’m not the biggest fan of the SAW Hit Factory production line, but they nailed it with this one.

More soon.

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8 thoughts on “How To Do a Cover Version”

  1. Hello Jez,
    The ever reliable Wikipedia assures us that the girls were keen on late 70s and early 80s punk and performed with a number of bands of the time. Apparently there was a Sex Pistols connection. I often wondered why they covered ‘No Feelings’ – if you don’t know it, it’s on You Tube and worth a spin

  2. I read somewhere that Bananarama had been singing Venus since they first got together, so the idea to record it as a single may not have entirely been down to SAW. Is it as good as the version by Don Pablo’s Animals though? The heated debate still rages (in my head, at least) to this day.

    I went to the same secondary school as Sarah and Keren, albeit 10 years apart, but I was there when Bananarama hit the big time. My science teacher, who used to manage bee hives and produce honey, used to love telling us how he sold jars of the stuff to their parents. You don’t get much more rock ‘n’ roll than that.

    1. I damn near posted the Don Pablo’s Animals version too, as I think it was out at around the same time…? Close call, but I think I still would plump for the ‘Ramas (if I’m ignoring the original, that is).

      And yes, that is rock’n’roll. Well jel (as young people said about 10 years ago)

    1. You may indeed! I missed that post first time around, so lovely catch up.

      And I suspect there may be at least one more Bananarama based post I can squeeze out of them

  3. Always thought the Bananarama version was the original until the Shocking Blue version popped up in Netflix’s Queen’s Gambit (did you watch it?). Think I’m a convert now – so perfectly late ‘60s.

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