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.

Which Reminds Me…

…is the new name for the “Apropos of Nothing” thread, which I’ve felt slightly disingenuous about using for a while now, since pretty much every time I’ve posted something in there, it’s because I’ve been reminded of whatever I’m posting, usually by something else I’ve posted recently.

Such is the case today.

Dutch band (seriously, I seem to have gone all EU over the past few posts; that’s Dutch, Austrian and Slovenian acts I’ve featured recently. Still, I suppose it is Eurovision next weekend, so perhaps I should make the effort…) Shocking Blue are perhaps best known for this song from 1970, which sounds like a cross between ? & the Mysterons’ “96 Tears” and The Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar”:


Shocking Blue – Venus

The song became a hit again in 1986 when Banarama, assisted by the seemingly unstoppable PWL production label, released this cover of it:


Bananarama – Venus

Every teenage lad growing up in the UK in the 1980s fancied one of Bananarama, and my teenage crush (one of many, obviously) was on Keren (the one in the middle). She, however, only had eyes for talented guys like her long term partner, Andrew Ridgeley. Otherwise, I’d have stood a chance, obviously. Ridgeley, in case you’re wondering, is, of course, better known for being the half of Wham! that wasn’t George Michael. Shuttlecocks ahoy!

A couple of years later, in 1990, the song was a hit again, this time a practically instrumental version, released by dance producers The BHF (which I thought was a Roald Dahl story, but which apparently stands for Bisiach Hornbostel Ferrucci) under the slightly catchier – but only slightly, mind – moniker of Don Pablo’s Animals:


Don Pablo’s Animals – Venus (The Piano Mix)

Rumours that they decided not to release the single under the name The BHF because it was a little too similar to BHS and they were worried in case “Sir” Philip Green bought them, asset stripped them and then sold them for £1, leaving the British taxpayer to pick up the bill for the £400 million shortfall on the pension fund, are completely unfounded.

However, it wasn’t just cheesy pop acts and dance remixers who fell under the spell of Shocking Blue. Here, from their 1969 “At Home” album is a song which will be familiar to many plaid-shirted grungesters:


 Shocking Blue – Love Buzz

..and here is a version by a slightly more famous band, but who at the time were yet to turn into the genre-defining behemoth they soon became:


Nirvana – Love Buzz

But all of this is just the amuse bouche for the main reason I’m writing this post. From 1968, and sounding like Grace Slick’s slightly deranged sister, the truly magnificent:


Shocking Blue – Send Me A Postcard

If you don’t like that, then I’m afraid we cannot be friends. Well, we can, but I will always be slightly suspicious of you.

Just sayin’.

More soon.