The YouTube Files – The Delicious World Of Shampoo.

Here’s yet another 90s pop group that I remember. Shampoo were a female pop duo who consisted of Jacqueline Blake (born in November 1974 in Woolwich) and Caroline Askew (born in May 1977 in Plumstead) who met at school in London and described themselves as “inseparable”. There was a lot of debate about them at the time. Were they two moody teenagers with attitude, or just a pair of airhead blondes? Well one thing’s for sure, they weren’t one-hit wonders and they had girl power for real. They didn’t have any Top Ten hits in the UK but they definitely made an impact on pop music around the world in the mid-90s, although their fame came and went rather quickly. This piece will take a look back at their music videos and TV appearances from 1993-1996 on YouTube. shampoo

After getting their big break by appearing in the video for “Little Baby Nothing” by Manic Street Preachers, Jacqui and Carrie released two singles in 1993 that weren’t hits. The first was “Blisters And Bruises”, and the second was “Bouffant Headbutt” for which a video was made. This was the song that brought them to the attention of the music magazines, winning various “single of the week” awards and tipping them to be huge, and they were often compared to Fuzzbox. vlcsnap-00327.jpg

In July 1994 they made the breakthrough when “Trouble” was released to become their first hit single, reaching no. 11, their highest chart position and also their most memorable song. One of the things that I like about this song is that there is a rhyme that is so obvious they don’t even say it: “we’d get the night bus but the night bus never came/we’re eight miles from home and it started to… (thunderclap sound effect)“. They also performed this song in the first and second of their four Top Of The Pops appearances, one of them being on that bizarre edition that experimented with a filmised look that was hosted by Malcolm McLaren. vlcsnap-00373

In October 1994 the next single “Viva La Megababes” was released which reached no. 27. Around this time they appeared on CBBC’s Live & Kicking to tell John Barrowman how much they loved Barbie dolls (they were also big fans of East 17 and Take That), they were interviewed on BBC2’s The O Zone and ITV’s late-night music show The Beat at their old school in Plumstead, and they also appeared on the cover of Melody Makershampoo1

They also performed “Viva La Megababes” on CITV’s What’s Up Doc? as the hosts including Andy Crane and Pat Sharp threw some shapes and boogied on down in the background. In November 1994 their first album “We Are Shampoo” was released, but this only reached no. 45. There was a big buzz about them around this time though, and suddenly they were appearing in all the trendy magazines including The Face, NMESmash Hits, and Select, and in December 1994 they performed at the Smash Hits Poll Winners’ Party shown live on BBC1 from the Docklands Arena in London. vlcsnap-00364

In February 1995 the next single “Delicious” was released which reached no. 21. They performed this on Channel 4’s late-night show The Word and they were interviewed on The O Zone again, this time at home. I remember reading an interview with Jamie Theakston where he said that Shampoo were among his least favourite interviewees from his time hosting The O Zone, describing them as “the monosyllabic queens”, and concluding “they’re not the sharpest tools in the box, let’s face it”. vlcsnap-00334

In August 1995 their biggest hit “Trouble” was re-issued, this time it reached no. 36. This was an attempt to break them in America by including the song on the soundtrack to the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers film and making a new video, but it wasn’t that successful. However, it seems that for a brief period they were hugely popular in Japan to the point that they were little short of megastars in that part of the world, and they sold a lot of albums there. Indeed such was their success in Asia there was a rumour around this time that they were among the richest women in Britain. vlcsnap-00369

Also in 1995 they appeared on CBBC’s Fully Booked, and I can only imagine what Morag The Cow made of them. Meanwhile, they released two more singles in Japan only, 1995’s “Warpaint” (for which a video was made), and 1996’s “Yeh Yeh Yeh (Tell Me Baby)”. vlcsnap-00381

In July 1996 their next single “Girl Power” was released which made no. 25. Now this is an interesting coincidence because they would often talk about “girl power” and how they were trying to send out a positive message to women, and a week after this song entered the chart another female pop group came on to the scene who had “girl power” as their motto who had massive success. They also performed this song on their third and fourth Top Of The Pops appearances. However, the second album also called “Girl Power” that was released in the same month didn’t chart. vlcsnap-00344

In September 1996 their next single which was a cover of The Waitresses song “I Know What Boys Like” was released which reached no. 42, missing the Top 40. And this turned out to be their final hit single. After this setback, they were practically never heard of again, although it seems that they did make a third album called “Absolute Shampoo” and they didn’t actually split until 2000. vlcsnap-00350

It is rather weird to think that Jacqui and Carrie are now both in their 40s and their first single was released almost 25 years ago, and I honestly have no idea what they are up to now or if they are still in contact with one another. If they now have children I wonder if they have ever told them about the time they became millionaires before they turned 20 years old. It must have been rather odd for them to have found fame at such a young age, but I hope that they enjoyed the experience of being an international pop star in their teens.

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The YouTube Files – The Alisha’s Attic Story.

It’s time to remember another pop group who were great in the 90s. Alisha’s Attic were a duo who consisted of the sisters Karen (born in January 1971 in Chadwell Heath) and Shellie Poole (born in March 1972 in Barking), and they were the daughters of Brian Poole who with the Tremeloes had a UK Number One single in 1963 with “Do You Love Me”. They didn’t have any Top Ten hits (most of their singles seemed to peak at no. 12), but they wrote their songs and did have nine hit singles between 1996-2001, and this piece will take a look back at their various music videos and TV appearances on YouTube. As much as I like 90s pop music, it’s a shame that they didn’t make any songs in the 80s… attic

…but wait a moment. Because when I started to put this piece together I was very surprised to discover that Alisha’s Attic actually did bring out a single in the 1980s. In November 1988 they released the single “Sugar Daddy” (credited as “Keren & Chelle”), and they could only have been about 16 or 17 years old at the time. It couldn’t be more removed from the look and sound that they would become known for years later, with the song sounding like a sub-Stock Aitken Waterman energetic dance-pop record that Sinitta rejected. There was even a really cringeworthy video made for it, and it seems that it reached a mighty no. 167. I imagine that they are probably hugely embarrassed by it and have long since completely disowned it, but to think that this happened at all is just so bizarre I can’t really believe it. vlcsnap-00321

Fast forward to the 90s… they were still struggling to break into the music business when they sent a demo tape of some songs to Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics, and he was so impressed by them he produced their first album. In August 1996 they finally had their first hit single with “I Am I Feel” which reached no. 14. This led to the first of their six appearances on Top Of The Pops, and I do remember the video catching my eye on ITV’s The Chart Show. They also performed this on Channel 4’s late-night music show The White Roomvlcsnap-00279

As ever it’s a tough decision, but I would have to say that this is my favourite single by them, and it really is a “girl power” anthem. “I Am I Feel” was also used as the theme to the ITV 1997-1999 sitcom My Wonderful Life, which gives me another opportunity to ask why isn’t this show out on DVD yet? It still hasn’t been released! Please bring it out! It was great! vlcsnap-00313

They were finally famous, and after Strawberry Switchblade and Shakespear’s Sister, it was great seeing another feisty female duo on the pop music scene. In November 1996 their next single “Alisha Rules The World” was released which reached no. 12, and they performed this on Top Of The Pops and also on TV in Australia. Also in November 1996, their first album, also called “Alisha Rules The World” (who is “Alisha”? It’s the name of Shellie’s imaginary childhood friend) was released, which reached no. 14. vlcsnap-00280

In March 1997 the next single “Indestructible” was released which again reached no. 12. This one really does have a terrific video. Also around this time they appeared on CBBC’s Live & Kicking and took part in a comedy sketch with Trevor And Simon, and as you should know by now I am always pleased to see pop stars who are up for being mildly embarrassed on live children’s TV shows. Also in 1997 they appeared on BBC2’s The O Zone and were nominated for a Brit Award in the Best British Newcomer category but they didn’t win. vlcsnap-00300

In July 1997 the final single off the first album “Air We Breathe” was released which was their third consecutive hit to reach no. 12. They performed this on Top Of The Pops and ITV’s Turner Round The World which also included a brief interview. In October 1997 Shellie appeared as a panellist on BBC2’s comedy music panel game Never Mind The Buzzcocksvlcsnap-00277

In September 1998 the first single from the second album “The Incidentals” was released which reached no. 13. They appeared on Top Of The Pops and Live & Kicking again, and also ITV’s CD:UK (some of their videos are a pain to find online, and rather oddly their CD:UK performance of this song is now credited as the official video on YouTube). In October 1998 the second album “Illumina” was released which reached no. 15, but it only spent a few weeks on the chart. vlcsnap-00296

In January 1999 the next single “I Wish I Were You” was released which reached no. 29. This led to another Top Of The Pops appearance and again although a video was made their CD:UK performance is credited as the official video on YouTube. In February 1999 Karen followed her sister by appearing on Never Mind The Buzzcocks. Also around this time they appeared on BBC2’s Electric Circus and CBBC’s L & K Friday which was like Live & Kicking… but on a Friday. vlcsnap-00310

In April 1999 the third and final single from the second album “Barbarella” was released which reached no. 34. They didn’t release any singles in 2000. vlcsnap-00293

They returned in March 2001 with the first single from the third album “Push It All Aside” which reached no. 24. They even hired none other than the award-winning Sophie Muller to direct the videos for the singles from this album and unsurprisingly they were terrific. They also performed this in what was their sixth and final appearance on Top Of The Popsvlcsnap-00278

In July 2001 the next single “Pretender Got My Heart” was released, but this only reached no. 43, becoming their first single not to make the Top 40, and five years on from “I Am I Feel”, this turned out to be their final hit. In August 2001 the third album “The House We Built” was released which received positive reviews but reached a rather disappointing no. 55. In 2003 a best-of called “The Collection” was released featuring all the hit singles plus a few extras, and it was also around this time that Alisha’s Attic split. vlcsnap-00302

Shellie did have one more hit single by herself in August 2006 as the guest vocalist on Michael Gray’s “Borderline”, and this also reached no. 12! After going their separate ways, Karen and Shelly have had more success behind the scenes and now work in the music business as songwriters, and have also performed with various groups, although I’m not aware of them working together in the past decade. Karen has done particularly well with her songwriting work, contributing to some great Top Ten hit singles including “Song 4 Mutya” for Groove Armada, plus “Red Blooded Woman” and “Chocolate” for Kylie Minogue.

The YouTube Files – Grrr! It’s Betty Boo!

Here’s a look at one of my favourite pop stars who briefly found fame in the early-90s. Betty Boo (not to be confused with the cartoon character Betty Boop) was born Alison Clarkson in London in March 1970, and she was more than your average pop star. As well as being a singer and rapper, she was also a songwriter and producer, and made a large contribution to her songs, and I think the story of her career is worth sharing on here. This piece will be a look back at her music videos and TV appearances from 1989-1993 on YouTube, she only had seven hit singles during this period but they were great. betty2

Betty began her music career in a group called the She Rockers, and in August 1989, she had her first hit single “Hey DJ – I Can’t Dance (To That Music You’re Playing)” which reached no. 7 and was a collaboration with dance act the Beatmasters, which led to the first of her seven appearances on Top Of The Pops. I recently discovered that Betty also performed a remixed version of this song on her own and another video was made for this which is really great. vlcsnap-00297

1990 would turn out to be Betty’s most successful year. In May 1990 her first solo single “Doin’ The Do” was released which reached no. 7, this was also her only hit single in America, and again she appeared on Top Of The Pops. And there’s nothing I can do. Betty was just about the very first pop star I remember becoming a fan of, and I always think of her as my favourite singer of 1990, just like I think that Cathy Dennis was the star of 1991. In June 1990 Betty appeared on the cover of Smash Hits for the first time, she was thrilled. vlcsnap-00330

In August 1990 the next single “Where Are You Baby” was released with reached no. 3 to become Betty’s biggest hit. However, it also turned out to be her third and final Top Ten hit single. As ever it’s a tough choice but I have to say that this is my favourite single of hers and the video is great too. Also in this month, Betty appeared on the cover of Smash Hits for a second time and she performed this song twice on Top Of The Pops. In September 1990 Betty’s first album “Boomania” was released which reached no. 4. vlcsnap-00344

Also in 1990, although not a single as such, Betty performed “The Number One No Smoking Rap” on a 7″ flexidisc that was given away as a free gift with magazine Number One that warned youngsters about the perils of smoking to the tune of “Where Are You Baby”. So if you’ve ever wanted to hear Betty sing about lung cancer it was good news for you. Also around this time Betty appeared on CBBC’s The 8:15 From Manchester, and again it was good to discover that she made a lot of children’s TV show appearances over the years. And in November 1990, Betty appeared on the cover of NMEbetty1

In December 1990 the final single from the first album “24 Hours” was released which made no. 25. She performed this song at the Smash Hits Poll Winners’ Party live on BBC1, and also on CBBC’s Going Live and Top Of The Pops. Also around this time a VHS called The Boomin’ Vids was released featuring all the videos for the first album singles, plus an exclusive interview, and Betty ended the year with an appearance on the cover of Record Mirror‘s Christmas issue alongside Vic Reeves. vlcsnap-00326

In January 1991 Betty took to the chair on Channel 4’s Star Test, which by this point had been moved from a prime-time slot to Sunday mornings. For this series, there was a phone-poll element so viewers could phone in to say if they thought the interviewee was telling the truth with their answers or not. Thankfully in Betty’s case the majority voted “yes”, so we were treated to her video for “24 Hours”. vlcsnap-00116

In February 1991 Betty won the Brit Award for Best British Newcomer at the ceremony that was shown on BBC1. I hope the award takes pride of place in her cupboard to this day. vlcsnap-00114

In August 1992 the first single from the second album “Let Me Take You There” was released which reached no. 12, and we were treated to another couple of memorable performances on Top Of The Pops. She also appeared on CBBC’s The O Zone, Parallel 9 and Going Live to promote this song. Also in this month, Betty made her third and final Smash Hits cover appearance, and it was looking at this point like a lot of people were anticipating her forthcoming second album, and Betty was very flattered to discover that Madonna was a fan of her work. vlcsnap-00325

In October 1992 the next single “I’m On My Way” was released, but it only made no. 44, missing the Top 40. Also in this month the second album “Grrr! It’s Betty Boo!” was released, but this reached a very disappointing no. 62 and spent only one week on the chart. In 2016 her two albums were re-released as special editions featuring an extra CD containing remixes and previously unreleased tracks which are a great listen. vlcsnap-00284

In April 1993 Betty’s final single from the second album “Hangover” was released which made no. 50. Even though Betty performed this song on various CITV shows including What’s Up Doc and The Disney Club along with BBC1’s Pebble Mill, again she failed to make the Top 40. And by this point, Betty had become somewhat disillusioned with the music scene, and unfortunately this was the last that we heard of her for a while. vlcsnap-00277

This wasn’t the end though. Betty did appear on TV a few more times in the 90s, including Channel 4’s The Music Game in 1993, BBC1’s Pop Quiz in 1994, and Channel 4’s TFI Friday in 1996. She then went on to become a songwriter for other acts, and appeared on Channel 4’s Top Ten in 2000 looking back at her success a decade earlier. Betty suddenly hit the headlines again in 2001 when “Pure And Simple”, a song that she had co-written a few years earlier was recycled as the debut single for pop group Hear’Say who were put together on ITV1’s Popstars series which went on to become one of the biggest Number Ones of its era, and also won an Ivor Novello award, although Betty did say that she wasn’t a fan of manufactured pop groups. vlcsnap-00306

Also, a contestant performed “Where Are You Baby” as Betty on ITV1’s Stars In Their Eyes in March 2002, well over a decade after it was a hit. After this, Betty did have a couple of minor hit singles in the late-2000s, including a project called WigWam which was a collaboration with Alex James from Blur. Betty still performs her hits on stage at various festivals around the world and it’s fantastic to know that nearly three decades on she’s still doin’ the do.

The YouTube Files – The Spooky World Of Shakespear’s Sister Part 2.

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Here’s a question for you. Who holds the record for having the longest-running Number One single by an all-female group in UK chart history? Little Mix? All Saints maybe? It’s got to be the Spice Girls hasn’t it? Well actually, it’s none of those, it’s Shakespear’s Sister. Everyone who enters the music business must hope that they can write that once in a lifetime song that will bring them fame and fortune, and it appears that they had done it with “Stay”, so it became the second single to be released off the second album. vlcsnap-01271

There was little indication of what was to come when “Stay” entered the singles chart at a modest no. 27 in January 1992, actually one place lower than “You’re History” did in 1989. One of their earliest performances of the song was on Jonathan Ross’s Channel 4 show. But what really gave the song a boost was when the video started to be shown on TV. People were stunned by Marcella’s emotion and Siobhan’s rather crazed performance as they battled it out somewhere in space. “I Heard A Rumour” it ain’t. It is remarkable to think that Siobhan successfully left her girl group days behind and became a terrific goth rocker, what a transformation! vlcsnap-00987

What would the public’s response to all this be? They wouldn’t go anywhere near all this strangeness, wouldn’t they? Well incredibly… they loved it. “Stay” spent eight consecutive weeks at Number One and ended up as the fourth biggest-selling single of 1992 in the UK, behind “I Will Always Love You”, “Rhythm Is A Dancer”, and “Would I Lie To You”, and it was the fourth longest-running UK Number One single of the 1990s decade, behind “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)”, “Love Is All Around”, and “I Will Always Love You”. “Stay” also made the Top Five in the US and was featured on “Now 21”. It still stirs feelings in me 25 years later and to think that all of this actually happened and it wasn’t all a dream I had really is terrific. vlcsnap-00989

In February 1992 the second album “Hormonally Yours” was released which reached no. 3 and spent over a year on the chart. They were now one of the biggest bands around. But how do you follow “Stay”? In May 1992 the next single “I Don’t Care” was released which reached no. 7, becoming their third and final Top Ten hit single. This was another terrific song accompanied by a classic video, the highlight being the moment when Siobhan’s head appears on a theatre stage to recite a nonsense poem from the 19th century. They don’t make them like that any more. vlcsnap-00013

It’s very difficult to pick my favourite single by them, but “I Don’t Care” is definitely up there with the best. They also performed this on Top Of The Pops, American TV’s The Late Show With David Letterman, and best of all, BBC1’s Bruce’s Guest Night, an entertainment show hosted by Bruce Forsyth. I’m sure that he was a big fan. In June 1992 they performed in front of a huge crowd on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury festival. vlcsnap-00088

In July 1992 “Goodbye Cruel World” was given a second chance, and this time it did make the Top 40, reaching no. 32. Around this time Siobhan was interviewed live on TV-am by Lorraine Kelly. They were also interviewed on CBBC’s The O Zone and performed on Parallel 9. It seems that they didn’t make many children’s TV appearances, but to discover that they appeared on the first series of Parallel 9 which is one of my favourite Saturday Morning shows is something of a dream double. vlcsnap-00171

In November 1992 the next single “Hello (Turn Your Radio On)” was released, which reached no. 14. This is a song that’s so downbeat as to make “Stay” seem a right old knees-up by comparison. Once again, it had an eye-catching video and they really were making songs that sounded like no-one else on the scene at the time. Around this time they appeared on BBC2’s Later With Jools Holland and they were also scheduled to play at the Royal Albert Hall which would have been their most high-profile concert to date, but Siobhan pulled out and it was cancelled. Also in 1992 a VHS was released containing the videos for the singles from “Hormonally Yours”. vlcsnap-00158

In December 1992 they performed at the Smash Hits Poll Winners’ Party live on BBC1 at the Olympia Arena. Siobhan looked rather exhausted and unhappy, performing “Stay” for what must have felt like the 500th time, it had been a relentless year for them, they had successfully toured around the world and crowds always enjoyed them, and they were hardly ever off MTV, but there were rumours growing around this time that Siobhan and Marcella no longer enjoyed working with one another. Indeed, this would turn out to be their final performance together. vlcsnap-00199

In February 1993 the final single off the album which had been milked somewhat by that point was an EP featuring “My 16th Apology”, “Catwoman”, their cover of T-Rex’s “Hot Love”, and a live version of “Dirty Mind” which reached no. 61. There were no new videos as such. The video for “My 16th Apology” was compiled from highlights and outtakes from the other second album videos, and the “Catwoman” video was a compilation of some live performances. They also performed “Hot Love” alongside Tom Jones on his ITV music show The Right Timevlcsnap-01263

Also in February 1993, they won the Brit Award for Best Video for “Stay”, could any other video have won it? Marcella accepted the award at the ceremony shown on ITV, but Siobhan was absent. In May 1993, they won an Ivor Novello award for their songwriting work on “Hormonally Yours”. Again, Marcella made an acceptance speech. An announcement was then made on Siobhan’s behalf (who was absent again) that Marcella was leaving the band. This was the first that she had heard of it, essentially meaning that she was sacked live on stage. Marcella was reported to be unhappy with how her departure was handled, and went off to resume her solo career. Siobhan and Marcella haven’t seen or spoken to one another since. vlcsnap-00166

In March 1994 Marcella’s second solo album “Jewel” was released which reached no. 15. Also in 1994 she had hit singles with “I Believe” (no. 11), “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing”, (no. 24, a duet with Elton John), and “I’m No Angel” (no. 33). In July 1994 she appeared on CITV’s Saturday Morning show Gimme 5 to promote “I’m No Angel” where she got more than she was expecting. First of all she spoke to our old friend Nobby The Sheep, and then played Tweak The Beak. I do remember this game, but I didn’t realise that she had played it. She failed to get the answers right and the end result was that she was gunged. I suppose it was good that she was game but she looked so embarrassed. That’s the perils of live children’s TV, you go on the show to promote your single and you end up being interviewed by a puppet sheep and having green stuff thrown over you. She probably sacked her management afterwards. 

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In June 1996, with Shakespear’s Sister now a solo project again, Siobhan finally returned with what was planned to be the first single from the third album “I Can Drive”, which reached no. 30. She performed this song on various shows including Top Of The Pops, Channel 4’s TFI Friday, and Richard And Judy’s prime-time show on ITV. I also remember watching the video on The Chart Show and it really was great seeing Siobhan back on the scene doing her thing again. Unfortunately the label weren’t too impressed with the content of the third album “#3” and refused to realise it. At this point a somewhat disillusioned Siobhan decided to bring the project to an end. vlcsnap-00174

Marcella released some more singles in the mid-90s which made a minor impact on the chart, “Perfect World” (1995, no. 100), “I Hate You Now…” (1996, no. 96), and “Boy” (1996, no. 83), followed in September 1996 by her third solo album “Feeler” which didn’t chart. In November 1996 Marcella appeared as a panellist on BBC2’s comedy music show Never Mind The Buzzcocks, and in December 1996 she appeared in two episodes of BBC1 sitcom Absolutely Fabulousvlcsnap-01080

Siobhan and Marcella have gone to release many more interesting singles and albums separately in the 20+ years after 1996, I might review those in a third part one day, along with taking a look back at Bananarama’s hits too. Of course I have already told the story of when I discovered that Siobhan lived in the same part of London as me and invited Keren and Sara round her house here one night a few years ago for a party which led to their reunion, I almost fainted when I found out. One thing’s for sure though, Siobhan won’t be inviting Marcella round for a cup of coffee any time soon. Reading that story reminded me how much I enjoyed Shakespear’s Sister and it made me want to discover more extrovert women who made quirky records in the 80s and 90s, leading me to do the pieces about Danielle Dax, Fuzzbox and Strawberry Switchblade that I really enjoyed putting together, their stories are worth telling and they all deserve more acclaim for their contribution to pop music over the years, and there’s more to come. I hope that Siobhan along with Keren and Sara have a great time on their reunion tour.

The YouTube Files – The Spooky World Of Shakespear’s Sister Part 1.

After writing about Shakespear’s Sister a lot on here, I have decided to do a piece looking back at their career. Not only did they make some great records, but their rise to fame was an incredible story. It’s similar to what happened to Strawberry Switchblade who I wrote about on here recently, they were also a female duo with a distinctive look who suddenly found success which caused tension between the pair of them, but this all happened to Shakespear’s Sister on a much larger scale.

In 1988 Siobhan Fahey (born in Dublin in 1958) left the successful pop group Bananarama to work on a new solo project. After a while she was joined by the American singer/songwriter Marcy Levy (born in Detroit in 1952) and they made an intriguing double act. Marcella had already been in the music business for a long time, working alongside the likes of Eric Clapton in the 1970s, having a US hit single in a duet with Robin Gibb in 1980, and releasing her first solo album “Marcella” in 1982, although this wasn’t a success. This will be a look back at some of their various TV appearances and music videos on YouTube from 1988-1996 and it will be in two parts. s1

It all started so quietly. In October 1988 the first single the double A-side “Break My Heart (You Really)”/”Heroine” was released, but it wasn’t a hit. All of the videos from this era (with the exception of “Dirty Mind”) were directed by the award-winning Sophie Muller, and they were all marvellous, with a lot of hard work put in to make sure that their image was as striking as their sound. At this point it seemed highly unlikely that Siobhan would transform into someone trying to beat Siouxsie Sioux at her own game but that’s how it turned out. One of Siobhan’s earliest TV appearances talking about her new project was on ITV’s Night Network where she was interviewed by Pat Sharp’s mate Mick Brown. vlcsnap-00170

Also around the end of 1988 a 15-minute film was made of their visit to the USSR which featured some bizarre behind the scenes action along with performances live on stage in Leningrad of “Dirty Mind” and “Heroine” (where Siobhan looked uncannily like Jessie J oddly). vlcsnap-01241

In July 1989 the big breakthrough came when “You’re History” became their first Top Ten hit single, reaching no. 7, and leading to their first appearances on Top Of The Pops and The Chart Show. This was the first video to feature Marcella who was now a full-time member and by this point she had changed her surname to the city of her birth. What was noted by many people was the contrast between Siobhan’s low voice (her vocal style was once described by Q magazine as “honking from the bowels of Hades”) and Marcella’s high voice. vlcsnap-00210

Also in July 1989 Siobhan appeared as a guest on Channel 4’s Star Test. This was a great  show so it’s very good to know that Siobhan once sat in the chair to be interviewed by the disembodied voice. She revealed some interesting things about herself including the first single that she ever bought was “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Michael Jackson, she does believe in ghosts, and she is totally fascinated by world events. When asked to promote “You’re History”, she said that making the video was “a scream to do”, and concluded “it’s fabulous actually, I just love it”. vlcsnap-00198

In September 1989 the first album “Sacred Heart” was released which reached no. 9. In October 1989 the next single “Run Silent” was released which reached no. 54, and the video was shown on The ITV Chart Show. It was also around this time that Siobhan appeared on the cover of music magazines Record Mirror and Smash Hits, where we were given a chance to enter her spooky world. A VHS containing the videos of the singles from “Sacred Heart” (plus the Russian film) was released in 1989. vlcsnap-00211

In March 1990 the final single from the first album “Dirty Mind” was released, but it reached a rather disappointing no. 71. This was a remixed version which was totally different to what was on the album and it featured a rap from Marcella! Also in 1990 they were nominated for a Brit Award in the Best British Newcomer category, but they didn’t win. vlcsnap-00213

When work began on the second album “Hormonally Yours”, they must have decided although they had done well they wanted to take their success to the next level. Some of the album’s songs and videos were influenced by the unintentionally bad low-budget 1953 science-fiction film Cat-Women Of The Moon. There was a song that was beginning to stand out and look like it had the best chance to finally take them into the upper end of the chart. Siobhan didn’t want this song to be released as a single though, saying that she felt that it wasn’t representative of the band’s sound as a whole (and possibly because it the only song where Marcella took the lead vocal). So instead, the first single off the second album was chosen to be “Goodbye Cruel World”. vlcsnap-00249

In October 1991 “Goodbye Cruel World” was released and it was accompanied by another great video that was influenced by such classic films as Sunset Boulevard and Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? and featured some marvellous acting by Siobhan. It was also 1991’s Best Video Of The Year on The ITV Chart Show. However, it didn’t get the second album off to the high-profile start that they wanted and it only reached no. 59. vlcsnap-00011

After this setback, it was at this point that the decision was made that they would now have to release this song with potential as the second single off the album, they were practically sat on a Number One single and it was felt that people would enjoy it and it would finally bring them huge success, but Siobhan was still rather reluctant. Would this song revive their faltering career? Well as we’ll discover in part two, at the beginning of 1992, a phenomenon was born…

The YouTube Files – The Cathy Dennis Story.

Time for a look back at another pop star’s career. Cathy Dennis was born in Norwich in March 1969, she made a lot of great dance-pop records (most of which she wrote herself) and she also had a distinctive bright red hairstyle. Unlike others that I have reviewed on here recently, Cathy never had a look or sound that was particularly “weird”, but as far as mainstream pop stars go she is one of my favourites, I remember enjoying a lot of her singles from first time round in the early-90s and she was one of the earliest singers that I became a fan of, and my memories of seeing her on TV and in magazines now go back over 25 years so I wanted to share her story. Although Cathy was never really an A-list pop star in this country, she was popular and had success around the world, particularly in America. This will be a piece looking back at her 13 hit singles in the UK from 1989-1997 and her various TV appearances and music videos on YouTube. cathyIn October 1989 Cathy had her first hit single with the dance act D-Mob (of “We Call It Acieed” and “It Is Time To Get Funky” fame) as the lead vocalist on their single “C’Mon And Get My Love” which reached no. 15, and she made her first of ten appearances on BBC1’s Top Of The Pops. This was also Cathy’s first of four Top Ten hits in the US, I was surprised to discover that she had more Top Ten singles in the US than she did in the UK. In December 1989 Cathy’s first solo single “Just Another Dream” was first released which reached no. 93. vlcsnap-00123

In April 1990 Cathy’s second single with D-Mob “That’s The Way Of The World” was released, but this was less successful, reaching no. 48. In November 1990 “Just Another Dream” was released for a second time, this time reaching no. 95. vlcsnap-00311

1991 would turn out to be Cathy’s most successful year. In May 1991 “Touch Me (All Night Long)” was released. This was a cover version of the 1984 disco classic by Fonda Rae (with some rewritten lyrics). I am a real fan of both versions and I would have to say that this is my favourite single by Cathy and the one that really got me into her. Cathy put a lot of hard work into promoting her songs and “Touch Me” became her most successful single, reaching no. 5 to become her only Top Ten hit single in the UK. It was also her second Top Ten hit in the US and her biggest, spending two weeks at no. 2. Cathy also performed this song on Top Of The Pops and CITV’s Ghost Train! Also in May 1991 Cathy appeared on the cover of Smash Hits, everything was going right for her. vlcsnap-00086

In July 1991 it was third time lucky for “Just Another Dream” when it finally became a hit single, reaching no. 15 in the UK, and it was Cathy’s third Top Ten single in the US. It was accompanied by a new video and appearances on CBBC’s The 8:15 From Manchester and Top Of The Pops. In August 1991 Cathy’s first album “Move To This” was released in the UK which reached no. 3. vlcsnap-00242

In October 1991 the next single “Too Many Walls” was released which reached no. 17 in the UK and was her fourth and final Top Ten hit in the US. She also performed this song on BBC1’s Wogan and Top Of The Pops, and the video was featured on the “Now 20” VHS compilation. One notable thing about the TOTP performance was that it was just after the relaunch of the long-running show where a rule was introduced that performers had to sing live, and she definitely impressed and showed off her voice. Also in October 1991 she appeared on the cover of Number One magazine. vlcsnap-00256

I know I am bringing it back to Bid TV again but I remember watching Andy Hodgson one day about a decade ago when he said that when he was working at a local radio station he once met Cathy around the time she was promoting “Too Many Walls”. It was just nice to hear someone talking about her on the TV again and it was good to discover that he was a fan too. Also in October 1991 Cathy performed at the Smash Hits Poll Winners’ Party live on BBC1 from the London Arena. I’m fairly sure that my sister went to this one, so she has seen Cathy perform live on stage and I haven’t? Pah! vlcsnap-00239

In December 1991 the final single off the first album “Everybody Move” was released which reached no. 25, and it was accompanied by an amusing video. She performed this song on Des O’Connor’s ITV show, along with yet another Top Of The Pops appearance. Also in December 1991 Cathy appeared on the cover of Time Out magazine. vlcsnap-00219

In August 1992 the first single off Cathy’s second album “You Lied To Me” was released which reached no. 34. Also around this time Cathy appeared on the CBBC shows The O Zone and one of my favourites Parallel 9Also in 1992 there was a big sign that she had made her mark on the pop scene when she was done on ITV’s Stars In Their Eyesvlcsnap-00300

In November 1992 the next single “Irresistible” was released which reached no. 24 and there was another Top Of The Pops appearance for Cathy. In the early-90s my sister set the video for a lot of music shows that were shown late-night on ITV. One of them was The Beat which was hosted by Gary Crowley. On one edition that she recorded there was a feature where the latest singles were reviewed, “Irresistible” was one of them, and I remember that Gary said he didn’t like it. I do though! vlcsnap-00236

In January 1993 Cathy’s second album “Into The Skyline” was released which reached no. 8, and in February 1993 the next single “Falling” was released which reached no. 32. This was accompanied by what has to be Cathy’s strangest video which is rather different to her other ones, it was great. Also in 1993 she appeared in an episode of the US drama series Beverly Hills 90210vlcsnap-00226

It was also around this time that one of the more unusual moments in Cathy’s career happened. The computer games magazine Sega Power ran an article in issue 35 about how much they liked her, this led to her being interviewed in issue 38, and issue 40 (dated March 1993) included a free gift of a cassette which featured some of Cathy’s songs including “Falling” plus some messages specially recorded for the magazine of her reading some tips and cheats for various Sega games. This might be something of an in-joke as Cathy does sound a little bemused, presumably this was organised to satisfy the writers who seemingly had a fantasy of her talking about Sonic The Hedgehog while tracks from her new album played in the background. So if you’re a gamer and you’d ever wanted to hear Cathy say things like “press the up button” it was your lucky day. However, it seems that Cathy actually might be into her games because also in 1993 she appeared on Channel 4’s GamesMaster where she tried to complete a computer game challenge by playing Global Gladiators, but she failed and caused the end of the world (in the game at least) which was rather disappointing, much to the amusement of host Dominik Diamond. vlcsnap-00001

In February 1994 Cathy’s third and final single with D-Mob (and the final single off the second album) “Why” was released which reached no. 27. Along with Top Of The Pops, Cathy also performed this song on CBBC’s Live & Kicking and CITV’s What’s Up Doc. I watched a lot of Saturday Morning children’s TV in the 90s and it was always great seeing Cathy turn up on these shows. vlcsnap-00290

After releasing no singles in 1995, Cathy returned in August 1996 with the first single from her third album “West End Pad”, which reached no. 25. Cathy also moved away from the dance-pop sound of her early singles. I remember watching the video on The Chart Show, it was great seeing her back on the scene after a couple of years away. Also around this time she appeared on ITV’s This Morning, Channel 4’s The Big Breakfast and CBBC’s Fully Booked and The O Zone where she spoke about her enthusiasm for rally driving (women rally drivers? Insert Alan Partridge/The Day Today reference). In November 1996 Cathy appeared as a panellist on the first series of BBC2’s comedy music show Never Mind The Buzzcocksvlcsnap-00286In March 1997 the next single “Waterloo Sunset” was released which became her second-biggest hit in the UK, reaching no. 11. This was a cover of the classic 1967 song by The Kinks which was endorsed by the writer of the song Ray Davies who also appeared in the video. Cathy performed this on Top Of The Pops and BBC1’s The National Lottery Live when it had high ratings which helped give the song a boost. Also in March 1997 her third and final album “Am I The Kinda Girl” was released, but it reached a very disappointing no. 78. After performing on several editions, Cathy hosted an edition of Top Of The Pops in May 1997, introducing the likes of Robbie Williams, Kenickie, D:Ream and Republica. vlcsnap-00270In June 1997 Cathy had what turned out to be her final hit single in the UK with “When Dreams Turn To Dust”, which reached no. 43. I remember her appearing on lots of shows around this time to promote this song. One of them was 5’s Company, a live daytime entertainment show in the very early days of Channel 5 where she was interviewed by various hosts including Steve Allen and John Barrowman. vlcsnap-00332

After leaving her pop star career behind, Cathy went on to become a hugely successful songwriter, writing many hits for a wide variety of singers, and she has contributed to eight UK Number One singles. They are “Never Had A Dream Come True” by S Club 7 (2000), “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” by Kylie Minogue (2001, widely regarded as one of the best chart-toppers of its era), “Have You Ever” by S Club 7 (2001), “Anything Is Possible” by Will Young (2002), “Toxic” by Britney Spears (2004), “About You Now” by Sugababes (2007), “I Kissed A Girl” by Katy Perry (2008, a transatlantic chart-topper), and “Once” by Diana Vickers” (2010). Cathy has also won several awards including Grammys and Ivor Novellos and her songwriting work has been hugely acclaimed.

The YouTube Files – The Exuberant World Of Fuzzbox.

After looking back at the careers of Danielle Dax and Strawberry Switchblade, I thought to myself are there any more women with strange-coloured hair who made terrifically quirky records in the 1980s… and there are! (We’ve Got A) Fuzzbox (And We’re Gonna Use It) formed in Birmingham in 1985 and originally consisted of frontwoman Vickie “Vix” Perks, along with Jo Dunne (1968-2012), Maggie Dunne and Tina O’Neill. They didn’t have any Top Ten hit singles but they made lots of great songs which brightened up pop music in the mid/late-80s. This is a piece telling their story through their various TV appearances and music videos on YouTube (plus some magazine covers) from 1986-1990. fuzzbox0

In April 1986 they had their first hit single, an EP featuring “Rules And Regulations”, “XX Sex”, “Do I Want To?”, and “She” which reached no. 41. They made one of their earliest TV appearances on a show in Belgium. This consisted of an interview where they were sat on the floor, followed by oddly-framed performances of “She” and “XX Sex” where one of them was up a ladder and another one was down a hole. vlcsnap-00174

Before I started putting this piece together, I would never have had any idea that they appeared on TV in Belgium, never mind it being as odd as this, YouTube really is the gift that keeps on giving. And also, if my maths is correct it seems that most of them including Vickie would only have been 17 years old at the time of this performance, and I didn’t realise that they started out as young as that. vlcsnap-00177

Also around this time the video for “Rules And Regulations” was played on the first-ever Indie Chart on Channel 4’s The Chart Show, and they were also interviewed on CITV’s Splash and CBBC’s Lift Off, as we’ll discover they seemed to be very fond of appearing on children’s TV shows. Also around this time they appeared on BBC2’s Whistle Test where they were described by Radio Times as “exuberant” and performed a couple of songs including their cover of “Spirit In The Sky”. vlcsnap-00264

In May 1986 they appeared on the cover of music magazines Record Mirror and Melody Maker. Fame at last!  fuzzbox1

In July 1986 they took part in the single “Rockin’ With Rita (Head To Toe)” as part of the Vindaloo Summer Special, a supergroup consisting of various acts on that record label which reached no. 56. They performed this on CITV’s Razzmatazz, part of the 1980s Tyne Tees music show trilogy along with The Tube and The Roxy, and afterwards they were interviewed by David Jensen. Also around this time they played at the Glastonbury festival. vlcsnap-00211

In November 1986 their next single was released which became their first Top 40 hit, another EP featuring “Love Is The Slug”, “Console Me”, “Spirit In The Sky”, and “Justine”. It reached no. 31 and earned them their first mention on Top Of The Popsvlcsnap-00312

They also performed “Love Is The Slug” on TV-am’s Wide Awake Club, where they were then interviewed by Tommy Boyd as Garfield looked on. In December 1986 their first album “Bostin’ Steve Austin” was released but this wasn’t a hit. Also in this month they performed a lively concert at the Astoria Theatre in London which has turned up on YouTube. vlcsnap-00188

In February 1987 the final single off the album “What’s The Point” was released which reached no. 51. They also performed this song when they appeared on German TV and American TV’s The Late Show where they were interviewed during the brief time that their frontwoman was Christina Aguilera (well not really of course but Vickie really does look like her there don’t you think?). They never really made the breakthrough in America though. vlcsnap-00274

They also performed this song on CITV’s No. 73 and none other than Neil Buchanan could be seen clapping along in the crowd to their performance, you only see things like that happen on children’s TV. “What’s The Point” had a great video too. vlcsnap-00234

After a break in 1988, Fuzzbox returned in 1989 for what would turn out to be their most successful year. They also had a new look, no more pink hair for these ladies, and frontwoman Vickie had become something of a flame-haired sex symbol. In February 1989 the first single off their second album was released, the Thunderbirds-influenced “International Rescue” which featured Adrian Edmondson in the video and became their biggest hit, reaching no. 11, and this earned them their first Top Of The Pops appearance. vlcsnap-00261

Also around this time they were interviewed on CITV’s Motormouth. Most excitingly though, in April 1989 they appeared on the cover of Lookin magazine for the first time alongside the likes of Kylie Minogue and Scally the dog! fuzzbox2

In May 1989 their next single “Pink Sunshine” was released which reached no. 14, and although it’s a tough decision I would have to say that this is my favourite single of theirs. I remember watching the video to this on the “Hits 10” VHS compilation, and I also enjoyed their Top Of The Pops performance. vlcsnap-00208

They also performed this song on ITV’s My Secret Desire and live on CITV’s Ghost Train which featured something of a mishap when the backing tape began to rewind that revealed that they were miming and they laughed for about the final two minutes of the performance. Also around this time they were interviewed on BBC Midlands Today in a report about the Birmingham music scene, and they also appeared on CBBC’s On The Waterfront and met Andrew O’Connor! vlcsnap-00254

In August 1989 the next single “Self!” was released which earned them another Top Of The Pops appearance and reached no. 24. Also in this month the second album “Big Bang!” was released which made the Top Five. They also appeared on CBBC’s The O Zone where they were interviewed by Andi Peters at a fairground, and we found out some great facts about them including “Jo thinks that Tom Jones is the best-dressed man in pop!”, “Maggie’s favourite book is Simon And Schuster’s Guide To Cats“, and that they are big fans of the Reynolds Girls, but then who wasn’t at the time? vlcsnap-00002

Also around this time they appeared on lots more magazine covers including NMEJackieLookin and Record Mirror again, and Smash Hits for the first and only time. fuzzbox3

In November 1989 the final single released from the second album was a cover of “Walking On Thin Ice” which reached a very disappointing no. 76. They performed this on TV-am’s WAC ’90 (and again they were interviewed by Tommy Boyd), plus CBBC’s The Satellite Show and CITV’s The Disney Club. The video was also featured on the “Monster Hits” VHS compilation (essentially “Hits 11”) although it wasn’t a monster hit. Indeed, it wasn’t a hit at all. vlcsnap-00310

In June 1990 what was planned to be the first single from the third album “Your Loss My Gain” was released. They performed this on ITV’s The James Whale Show and Cannon And Ball’s Casino, along with appearances on CBBC’s The 8:15 From Manchester and CITV’s Ghost Train where they met Nobby the sheep. However, it reached a miserable no. 100, and after this disappointment work on the third album (which was to be called “Out Of This World”) was abandoned and Fuzzbox split, and they didn’t perform together again for 20 years, although in 2004 a best-of album was released called “Look At The Hits On That” which featured all their big ones.