Let’s continue the Bananarama story. In December 1984 the ladies were invited to take part in the charity single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” as part of the Band Aid project, and it was a huge success, being a Number One for many weeks and going on to become the biggest-selling single of the decade. They were three of only four women to take part, the other one was Jody Watley.
In August 1985 “Do Not Disturb” was released which reached no. 31. This one is among my favourites, although it seems that the ladies themselves don’t seem to be too fond of it. They performed this on CBBC’s The Saturday Picture Show, CITV’s Hold Tight and Kelly’s Eye, an ITV comedy show starring Matthew Kelly. 1985 was a fairly quiet year by their standards. However 1986 would go on to be their most successful yet…
In May 1986 their cover of “Venus”, a collaboration with the Stock Aitken Waterman production team, was released, which reached no. 8. However, this song did reach Number One in several countries including America! Barely five years on from their debut single they had gone from unknowns to succeeding in the world’s most difficult singles market, this is still the song that they’re most famous for, and the classic video was frequently shown on MTV. They appeared on CBBC’s Lift Off, Top Of The Pops and the cover of No. 1 in June. In July 1986 their third album “True Confessions” was released which reached no. 46. This is also their highest-charting album in America where it reached no. 15.
Now they were at their commercial peak, it is something of a surprise to realise that the follow-up to “Venus” didn’t make the Top 40. In August 1986 “More Than Physical” was released which reached no. 41 (and only no. 73 in America). Even an energetic performance on BBC1’s Wogan couldn’t get people excited. They also had another Lookin cover. It was noticed though that their image was beginning to change, no more dungarees for them. It was also around this time that each video was steamier than the last.
In February 1987 “Trick Of The Night” was released which reached no. 32. There is an interesting story behind this one. In 1987 there was a BBC1 documentary series called In At The Deep End, where a presenter is challenged to learn a skill that they previously had no experience in. Paul Heiney was asked to direct a music video for a pop group, and Bananarama agreed to take part. There was also an article in Radio Times, and the show has been released on DVD. It seems that they didn’t enjoy the experience though and were very disappointed with the end result, so they promptly went off and made a second video with a tried-and-trusted director that they were much more satisfied with.
In April 1987 Bananarama contributed to the charity single “Let It Be” for Ferry Aid which was another chart-topper. In July 1987 “I Heard A Rumour” was released which reached no. 14, and it was also their third and final Top Ten hit in America, reaching no. 4. They performed this on Top Of The Pops, BBC1’s Seaside Special, ITV’s The Roxy, and also on Hold Tight, where they had a really good time. You can all join in with the dance routine! They also had another No. 1 cover and appeared in TV Times. In September 1987 their fourth album “Wow!” was released which reached no. 26.
In October 1987 “Love In The First Degree” was released which reached no. 3 and was a double A-side with “Mr Sleaze”. This is their biggest-selling single in the UK. Also in this month they had their second Smash Hits cover.
In January 1988 “I Can’t Help It” was released which reached no. 20, and would you believe it, this was to be Bananarama’s 16th and final UK hit single featuring Siobhan. After a memorable final performance together at the Brit Awards, Siobhan was off to work on a new project. Of course, I have already told the remarkable story of what she did next, little did she know that she would star in one of the biggest hit singles of the early-90s…
Siobhan was replaced by Jacquie O’Sullivan (born in London in 1960). She had been a friend of Sara and Keren’s for many years, so after Siobhan’s departure she was the ideal choice to maintain Bananarama as a trio. In April 1988 the new line-up’s first single “I Want You Back” was released which reached no. 5. They performed this on Going Live, Top Of The Pops twice, CBBC’s Roland Rat Show, and ITV’s The Roxy. They also appeared on the covers of Just Seventeen and Number One.
In September 1988 “Love, Truth And Honesty” was released which reached no. 23, and they were on Top Of The Pops for the 18th time! This is also their final single to make the Top 100 in America. In October 1988 their first best-of “The Greatest Hits Collection” was released which reached no. 3, which is their highest-charting album in the UK. There was also another VHS released containing the videos for all their hits. Also around this time was their third and final NME cover, along with more Record Mirror and Number One covers.
The 90s are not far off now and there were still plenty more hits to come for the ladies, as we’ll discover in the third part…