When taking a look back at 80s pop music, I have been surprised at just how few all-female groups had been successful during this decade. There were Bananarama and The Belle Stars of course, but they really weren’t many more beyond that. This is an example of a quintet who were briefly a success though. Could they be considered to be that era’s equivalent of Girls Aloud? Well possibly.
Toto Coelo (or Total Coelo as they were known in America to avoid confusion with Toto of “Africa” fame) were Anita, Lacey, Lindsey, Ros, and Sheen (and yes I know that one of them is the daughter of Bob Holness, that’s a rather famous piece of pop trivia). In August 1982, they released their first single “I Eat Cannibals”, which showcased their rather distinctive look (they wore dresses that seemed to be made out of bin-liners) and sound, which reached No. 8 in the UK. It also reached No. 66 in America.
Soon they were on Top Of The Pops causing something of a stir, and appearing in lots of magazines. But then they made what turned out to be a rather big mistake with their marketing… they released another single. About three months on from “I Eat Cannibals”, in November 1982 they decided to treat their fans to a double A-side, consisting of “Dracula’s Tango (Sucker For Your Love)” and “Mucho Macho”, so lucky people would get two great pop songs for the price of one. Well that was the idea.
Again, they promoted these on several TV shows including Saturday SuperStore and Three Of A Kind, where they performed the songs, along with the rather well-drilled dance routine. But this, probably much to their surprise, only reached No. 54. This also turned out to be their second and final hit single, every follow-up they did would be unfairly compared to “I Eat Cannibals”, and before we had even got to the end of their breakthrough year 1982, they were all over.
They did carry on for a little longer though. In May 1983, they went on to release “Milk From The Coconut”, which got nowhere, and their only album “Man O’War” also sank without trace. They were beginning to run into some trouble, as around this time Anita and Sheen left the group. By 1985, they were just about still going as a trio (The Belle Stars were also reduced to a trio by the time they released their much-ignored final single), and released two more singles to no interest.
I don’t really know that much about what happened to any of Toto Coelo after this. It seems that one of them was in an episode of EastEnders a few years ago, but that’s about it really. They deserved much better. But wherever they may all be now, I hope that they still have good memories of their very short time as a big buzz in pop music during the early-80s.
2 thoughts on “Down The Dumper – The 80s Part 6.”
Anita Chellamah Mahadervan had also been a member of Top Of The Pops dance troupe Legs & Co before replacing Nancy Nova (Ros’ sister) in Toto Coelo.
Anita went on to front the Cherry Bombz- a mixture of Hanoi Rocks( by then defunct due to the death of their drummer Razzle), Lords of the New church,The Clash and Sham 69- they supported Poison for a number of stateside gigs, appeared on the TUBE and performed their final performance at the Reading festival