Let’s return to the “Down The Dumper” series, and this is a group who had one of the more spectacular descents from the top of the chart in the 80s. The Bangles were an all-female American group that formed in the early-80s as The Supersonic Bangs. By the time they changed their name, they were beginning to be successful, and watching some of their earliest TV appearances now, they wouldn’t be aware of the highs and lows yet to come.
They insisted that there was no frontwoman as such, as most of the members would perform vocals on various songs (Susannah was notable though, partly because she seemed to have a weird quirk of not looking into the camera like the rest of the group in photoshoots and music videos). Their chart performances in the UK would turn out to be fairly inconsistent, but they did better in this country than The Go-Go’s, who they were sometimes compared to.
In February 1986 they made a breakthrough when “Manic Monday” became their first Top Ten hit in the UK, and it was also around this point that they appeared on the cover of Smash Hits. Fame at last! The next two singles missed the Top 30, but in September 1986 “Walk Like An Egyptian” was another Top Ten hit, and this was Number One in America for four weeks. They also won a Brit Award in 1987.
They then had more hits, including “Walking Down Your Street”, and “Hazy Shade Of Winter”. But it was in February 1989 when “Eternal Flame” was released that they had their first and only chart-topper in the UK for four weeks (this was their second Number One in America). There wasn’t as much joy about this could be expected though, as there was some unrest at the change in musical genre, this being a ballad, and for trying to make Susannah, considered by many to be the most glamorous member of the group, the lead vocalist, and also the “face” of The Bangles (I get the feeling that we have come across this scenario before in these pop music pieces).
They were unable to build on this, and once again, their biggest success actually hastened their end, this was their final Top Ten hit in the UK (let’s not think about the cover of “Eternal Flame” that was also a UK chart-topper for now though). Next was “Be With You”, which missed the Top 20, as they continued to insist that they had more than one member, and by October 1989 when “I’ll Set You Free” reached only no. 74, The Bangles had gone their separate ways, under a cloud of bitterness to some extent.
A best-of album was released in 1990 which did rather well though. In the early-90s, Susannah launched a solo career, but only had a few minor hits in the UK, and she also became an actress and appeared in a few films (including one that was directed by her husband). Some of The Bangles did eventually get back together in the early-2000s though, and worked on some new material.