Down The Dumper – The 80s Part 10.

This is a group that I have already done two pieces about, but as they qualify for this series, I thought that I would take a closer look at the story behind this single. The Belle Stars started out in 1979 as The Bodysnatchers, they had some minor success before changing their name and line-up in 1981, and after a few releases, they hit the big time in 1983 with “Sign Of The Times”.

Their following singles didn’t do as well, but it was thought that there would still be a lot of people eager to discover what their next move would be. In June 1984 “80s Romance” was released, which was to planned to be the first idea of what they would have to come on their second album. Barely a year on from their Top Ten hit though, it all went rather wrong for the stylish septet.

The video for this one is rather curious. The first two minutes or so consist of a look behind the scenes, showing how everything was put together. There’s also a reference to Canary Wharf which I thought was rather odd as that hadn’t yet been built in 1984. But then I remembered that’s what the actual area of London is (which was still barely developed at the time), the building is actually called 1 Canada Square, unless they could see five years into the future.

The video continues with the behind the scenes look, and there are lots of clapperboards and cameras in shot and the like, along with a dance routine that they couldn’t do properly, with one letter each of “romance” painted on their T-shirts, along with some terrific lyrics like “this is 80s romance/textbooks in our pockets/mud on our faces!” (well I think that’s right).

The combination of all this didn’t go down very well though. Smash Hits were rather harsh about this one by their standards, saying “a weak melody and some godawful lyrics”, while Record Mirror went even further, simply saying “horrible record”. Oh dear. “80s Romance” reached a very disappointing no. 71, work stopped on the new album, and The Belle Stars split very shortly after.

But that wasn’t the end just yet, as The Belle Stars returned in 1986, but now as a trio, with something of a different look and sound, and they had lost so many members that the saxophonist was reassigned as the drummer. Unfortunately despite their new single “World Domination” being rather good, nobody was bothered by this point, and what was left of The Belle Stars split for good.

After going their separate ways, most of them also left the music business altogether, and apart from a best-of, the only work under The Belle Stars name since was a brief tour of the nostalgia circuit in the early-2000s, that seemed to consist of three random women, and there is currently no active version of the group, not even performing “Sign Of The Times” down the pub or anything.


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