Another story about pop music!

I was planning to finally begin putting together my piece looking back at the hit singles of pop group Bananarama in the 1980s and 90s, when I got somewhat distracted after I discovered a further twist in the remarkable “Bananarama decided to reform after they met up at Siobhan’s house in Bethnal Green which is where I live in London” story, it seems that they aren’t the only 80s pop stars round here! b8

In recent years the area where I live in London seems to have become one of those places that is suddenly trendy and all those hipster types like to hang around, and my mum often says “when I was out earlier there was some bloke walking along the street who looked as if he might be in a band”. I don’t know how many there really are, but here is another example of one.

I am not a member of the website Instagram, but you might remember when I looked at Siobhan from Bananarama’s page and noticed that she was putting pictures of herself on there in places not too far from where I live. I also noticed that there was another woman who was appearing in a lot of these pictures with her called Brix Smith. Now she was someone who I didn’t know much about so I decided to discover more. brix2

American born-Brix found fame in the 1980s when she became a member of indie band The Fall, and in July 1983 she married their frontman Mark E Smith (who actually died while I was putting this piece together), and around the same time she was in another band called The Adult Net who had a few minor hit singles. She also appeared on the cover of a lot of music magazines in the mid/late-80s including NME, Record Mirror and Sounds. A couple of years ago she published a book about her career. brix1

When I was putting together my piece on The Roxy and was looking for videos of performances from that show on YouTube, I found The Fall’s “Hit The North” from 1987 which features Brix on stage, and it seems that a lot of people thought that it was rather unusual for them to appear on primetime ITV. Then when I was channel hopping one night around the same time there was a documentary on Channel 5 about classic Christmas films which Brix contributed to where she was credited as a “TV presenter”. I thought it was weird that she was suddenly turning up a lot. vlcsnap-00225

As well as her music career, it seems that Brix has also had success in the world of fashion and for a while she owned a clothes shop with her second husband Philip Start in Shoreditch, which again is very close to where I live. So I decided to do a search for “Brix Shoreditch” and sure enough I found a few articles with interviews where she spoke about her career which stated “Brix lives in Shoreditch”. So she didn’t just have the shop there, she actually lived there. This is starting to get interesting… brix6

So I thought I might as well take this to its natural conclusion and searched for “Brix Bethnal Green”. Has she been anywhere that I would know? The results were rather surprising. I found a post from September 2017 saying that Brix was going to perform a gig at a place called The Sun Tavern in Bethnal Green. Now I do actually know where this is and it’s only a couple of minutes walk from where I live. So how did it all go? Did anyone turn up to this? brix3

And well, ooh yes, there’s only a picture of Brix alongside Siobhan at the gig at The Sun Tavern (where she describes Siobhan as “my dear friend”). Well again, I couldn’t believe it. You should know by now that I am into Shakespear’s Sister and I remember their epic run at the top of the singles chart in 1992 with “Stay”, so to think that one of the women who sang on that classic song is often here really has shocked me. It’s something that’s so strange that it reminds me of what Alan Partridge once said: “it’s like The X Files… but a pleasant X Files“. I wonder how they met and how long they have known one another? brix4

Not long after, Siobhan joined Brix onstage during a gig to perform the old The Fall song “Totally Wired” with her, at a venue called Oslo in Hackney, which again isn’t too far away. So if you saw the Bananarama tour recently, as much as I’m sure Siobhan enjoyed performing such classics as “Cruel Summer” and “Venus” across the UK, it seems that she’d sooner be down the pub performing The Fall songs round the corner from me. Sorry everyone! brix5

I have said before that I have no real interest in the cult of celebrity, but I wondered if Brix and Siobhan (or indeed any other pop stars) have ever been to other local trendy hotspots including the Working Men’s Club (which hit the headlines recently when Liam Gallagher performed a surprise gig there) or The Star Of Bethnal Green, which really is just about literally across the road from me. It does make me wonder just how many more 80s pop stars could be round here. Is Kim Wilde always in the local supermarket? Does Siouxsie Sioux live next door? Well in the future, if I see a woman walking along the street dressed like this, I’ll know who it is… b9

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More TV Memories – CD:UK.

CD:UK (ITV, 1998-2006)

Following on from The Roxy and The Pepsi Chart, here’s a look at a third chart music show on a commercial TV channel that attempted to become a rival to BBC1’s Top Of The Pops. CD:UK (I’m fairly sure that it wasn’t officially a part of CITV) launched in 1998 to replace The Chart Show which had been in its Saturday afternoon timeslot for almost a decade and was one of my favourite music shows, and I’ve decided to stop being bitter about it for a moment to look back at this show.

One thing that CD:UK promised to have that The Chart Show never did was live studio performances from the biggest pop acts around, along with regular features including various videos, interviews, competitions and the latest chart. Ant and Dec (who know a thing or two about having hit pop records themselves) hung around from their CITV Saturday Morning show SM:TV Live (which launched on the same day) to host CD:UK along with Cat Deeley who was also a presenter on MTV at the time. vlcsnap-00421

As the years progressed, a lot of pop stars did take part making the show a good archive of who was big on the music scene in the late-90s/early-2000s, and after Ant and Dec left at the end of 2001, Deeley continued as host and was joined by various others. There were even a couple of compilation CDs released under the CD:UK name. Every edition ended with the Top Ten being announced (but again not using the official chart), with the Number One act receiving a special award. As there was a rather high turnover of chart-toppers during this era, a lot of them must have been given out! vlcsnap-00420

However, I much preferred the spin-off show that launched in January 2003 on ITV1 which was called CD:UK Hotshots. This was shown in a much later timeslot (usually around midnight) and it featured a rather unpredictable variety of music videos that you would be much less likely to see on the main show, such as more alternative acts, or videos that were just plain unsuitable for the daytime show. vlcsnap-00422

CD:UK ended up running for almost eight years before finally ending in 2006, and by this point I didn’t watch it much any more, and it seemed to have lost its way a little with the presenting lineup changing rather frequently (including a big relaunch in 2005 when Lauren Laverne and Myleene Klass became presenters), and by this point YouTube was on the rise so being to access a wide variety of music videos and performances was becoming easier than ever. It certainly made an impact with a lot of viewers though. vlcsnap-00419

More TV Memories – The Pepsi Chart.

The Pepsi Chart (Channel 5, 1998-2002)

Following on from my review of The Roxy, here’s a look at another attempt by a commercial channel a decade later to try and create a weekly music show that was a rival to BBC1’s Top Of The Pops featuring live studio performances but based around a different chart (I might also review ITV’s CD:UK soon but I’m still rather bitter that it replaced The Chart Show, maybe it’s about time I got over it after two decades).

In the mid-90s a commercial radio rival to BBC Radio 1’s Official Top 40 was established which was sponsored by Pepsi and was broadcast on Capital and various other stations across the country. It was mostly based around airplay along with sales and it was successful enough for Channel 5 to decide in February 1998 that they wanted to launch a TV version. The Pepsi Chart was hosted by various presenters over the years including Rhona Mitra, Neil Fox (who also hosted the radio version) and Abbie Eastwood, and it usually came from a club in London. vlcsnap-00043

As well as live performances from pop acts, there would also be features including interviews. As an extra, after the new chart was announced on the radio on Sunday evening, Channel 5 would show Dr Fox’s Chart Update on Mondays, where the new Top Ten would be announced, which would also give us a hint of who might be appearing on the next edition. Unfortunately, this show was only five minutes long and was usually shown in a late-night slot, so barely anyone saw it. vlcsnap-00042

One of the things that attracted me to watching The Pepsi Chart was that because I was in my teens when it was shown I was rather interested in pop music at that time, and it was always good having a chance to see some of my favourite songs that were around being performed on TV, along with also watching TOTP, and music channels MTV and UK Play. There were also some compilation CDs of hits released under The Pepsi Chart name. vlcsnap-00046

The Pepsi Chart proved to be a fairly durable format which attracted a decent amount of big names to appear and it ran for nearly five years, but unsurprisingly it never came close to rivalling TOTP as a significant music show, and when Pepsi ended their sponsorship of the radio show in 2002, the TV version came to an end. Channel 5 were determined to still have a pop music show though, so they decided to try something different. vlcsnap-00054

Throughout 2003 various new formats were tried out, most of which were shown on Saturday afternoons. These included Pop, which was hosted by Lauren Laverne and featured live performances, seemingly to try and be a competitor with Channel 4’s Popworld. There was also The Smash Hits Chart, a tie-in with the long-running magazine which usually only featured music videos. This was then replaced by The Flaunt Chart, a tie-in with a digital music channel. Even this was then replaced by simply The Chart, and after that came to an end Channel 5 no longer had a regular pop music show in their schedule.

More TV Memories – The Roxy.

The Roxy (ITV, 1987-1988)

Over the years there have been lots of music TV shows that have been designed to try and be a rival to the long-running Top Of The Pops, and one of them was The Roxy. In the late-70s/early-80s David “Kid” Jensen was a presenter on BBC Radio 1 and TOTP, and when he moved to commercial radio station Capital in the mid-80s he began to host The Network Chart, which featured the latest hits but was based more around airplay than sales, and was designed to be a rival to Radio 1’s Official Top 40 Show.

After Channel 4’s The Tube ended, production company Tyne Tees decided that they wanted to use the five years’ experience of making that show to do something similar on ITV, so in 1987 Jensen was hired to host The Roxy that was based around his radio chart. Jensen hosted alongside Irishman Kevin Sharkey (he is in an episode of Father Ted you know) and every week there would be live performances coming from what resembled a dancehall, ending with the reveal of the Number One single. vlcsnap-00013

The Roxy was a good showcase of the pop music acts that were around at the time, and a fairly diverse range of groups appeared to perform their latest single from Sisters Of Mercy to Swing Out Sister, and facts about them would also scroll across the screen. There was even a look behind the scenes of the show on CITV’s KellyVision in 1988. However, the show ran into a few problems including at least one edition being affected by industrial action, and it ended up being relaunched fairly quickly. vlcsnap-00012

Jensen was relegated to only voicing the chart segment, with Sharkey’s co-host becoming Pat Sharp (who was also a Capital radio presenter at the time and hosted a small amount of TOTP editions around 1982/1983), the studio was redesigned, the theme music was changed to “Amnesia” by Bananarama (them again!), and even the show’s title was changed to The Roxy: The Network Chart Show. But this ended up making little difference, and just ten months after it launched, in 1988 The Roxy came to an end. vlcsnap-00003

Why did The Roxy fail? Firstly, some viewers felt that it was too similar to TOTP and they were satisfied with that show for pop music coverage. Also, because an unofficial chart was used most of the positions were way off where acts really were on the Official Chart so it wasn’t a trusty gauge of how singles were really doing. Another problem was that because the studio was in Newcastle most acts didn’t think it was worth the effort to go up north despite the TV exposure they would receive, especially when the established TOTP‘s studios in London were more accessible. vlcsnap-00005

Another problem was scheduling. Most regions showed The Roxy in different timeslots, with some moving the show against EastEnders on Tuesdays which caused the ratings to plummet, and some dropped the show altogether, so in 1989 ITV decided to poach The Chart Show from Channel 4 to fill the gap for their own regular pop music show (although this didn’t use the official chart either). vlcsnap-00006

I don’t really remember watching The Roxy that much, but my sister was a fan of the show when she was really into pop music in the late-80s, and there are a large amount of performances on the show online. Despite the failure, there have been more attempts to create a commercial rival to TOTP in more recent years including CD:UK on ITV and The Pepsi Chart on Channel 5, and I plan to review those too soon.

The Review Of The Year.

We’ve just about come to the end of my third year of doing this blog, and I have brought you over 130 new pieces in 2017 sharing more memories of various things, what a year it’s been, here are some of my highlights. First of all, I remember saying around the end of April that I had plenty more to tell you about, and then I didn’t do a piece for the whole of May. Sorry about that! But whenever I do get a good idea that I want to share I always enjoy bringing them to you on here. year

I reviewed some more game shows. These included me trying to defend Channel 4’s Cheap Cheap Cheap which was so obviously was going to be a big ratings flop from the moment it was announced but I tried to convince people that it wasn’t that bad really. I also had a look at some American versions of British game shows. There aren’t that many more game shows left to review now. 

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Barry pretends that he knows what’s happening in Cheap Cheap Cheap

Also this year we lost some great TV figures who had contributed a lot to game shows over the years. This included Bruce Forsyth who I paid a special tribute to when I looked back at his remarkable career, William G Stewart who hosted Channel 4’s Fifteen-To-One for almost 16 years, a show that I have written about a lot on here, and Keith Chegwin, who featured in my review of BBC1’s Happy Families, when he was the special celebrity guest who cranked up those grannies. 

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The much-missed Cheggers gets ready to do some granny cranking

I also looked back at some more comedy and children’s TV shows. Along with game shows, these are my three favourite TV genres, and there are plenty more sitcoms and cartoons still to review. I have also enjoyed writing about forgotten TV shows that I have found on YouTube including Atlantis High and The Preventers, plus the final episodes of various soaps. My most viewed piece that I wrote this year was on BBC1’s game show Winning Lines, with CBBC’s sketch show Stupid in second place. I was enjoying talking about TV on here, but then this blog went off in a different direction when something rather remarkable happened… 

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Atlantis High was great, honest

I know have gone about it a lot but when I discovered that pop group Bananarama decided to reform after they became friends again during a party in Bethnal Green which is where I live in London I was very surprised. When I discovered that the reason that Keren and Sara were here was because they at Siobhan’s house in Bethnal Green, I was shocked. Sara also mentioned this in an interview with Classic Pop magazine! I had recently been thinking about whatever happened to Siobhan when I remembered that it was the 25th anniversary of her massive chart-topping single “Stay”, and to discover that we lived so close to one another completely stunned me. 

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Sorry, what?!

This made me realise how much of an impact pop music has had on my life and I decided that I wanted to write about it more on here, something that I never thought I would have the confidence or ability to do just a few years earlier before I started all this. I realised that I was rather fond of women pop stars in the 80s and 90s who didn’t play the game so to speak, ones who wrote all of their songs, had a very distinctive image, weren’t manufactured and liked to be in control of their career, which seemingly led to constant bickering with their record labels.

I wrote about solo singers that I remember from the early-90s such as Betty Boo and Cathy Dennis, and I also wanted to find out more about Danielle Dax, and when I finally tracked down some information about her, I just thought she was terrific, to the extent that I bought the DVD of her concert. Although I said there seems to be little about what happened to Danielle post-1991 online, I did later discover that she performed a very low-key gig (also her first in over a decade) earlier this year at a club in Dalston, which again is very near where I live. Wow. I also got a good reply to the piece thanking me for telling her story. It’s not too late to make her a star, is it? 

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walking sick sick they walking the town

I also realised that I seem to have a fondness for female duos who probably couldn’t stand one another, leading them to go their separate ways in rather bitter circumstances. Along with Shakespear’s Sister (I even went so far as to review the time that they were imitated on Stars In Their Eyes!), I also looked back at Alisha’s Attic, Strawberry Switchblade, and Shampoo. It was great finding clips of their TV appearances on YouTube, magazine covers, and listening to their hits, they were all very charismatic and entertaining. I was surprised to discover Alisha’s Attic’s first attempt at pop stardom in the 1980s with a song that was described as “a wretched hi-NRG abomination” by Record Mirror. Well, we’ve all got to start somewhere. I also looked back at the group Fuzzbox. I was rather surprised when I tracked down their Twitter account because it seems that I have more followers. I’m more famous than Fuzzbox? How can that be possible?! 

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They had a Fuzzbox and they liked to use it

Next year I plan to look back at lots more pop stars including Bananarama, but as they had about 30 hit singles it will take a while to put together, and I was really pleased when I got a reply from someone on one of the Shakespear’s Sister pieces saying that they went to one of the Bananarama reunion concerts and they also met the ladies after and they were great, it really is brilliant to know how well received the tour was by fans. I also bought the special editions of their first six albums featuring two CDs of songs and a DVD of music videos and TV appearances. 

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Yes they did, didn’t they!

Finally, I’d like to thank you for your continued support. My blog has had over 30,000 views in 2017 which is a new record for most views in a year, and your interest is the reason why I didn’t stop doing this after three days. It’s been a great experience and I hope you’ll look forward to what’s still to come. Whatever you’re doing, I hope you have an enjoyable 2018.

The YouTube Files – The Spooky World Of Shakespear’s Sister Part 3.

I wondered what Siobhan and Marcella had been up to in the years after “I Can Drive”, so here is the third part of the story of Shakespear’s Sister taking us from 1997 up to the present day. Both ladies are still in the music business and have separately released a lot more albums, although they have had a much lower profile, and it seems that most of Siobhan’s TV appearances in the past 20 years have been contributions to nostalgic documentaries looking back at 1980s pop music, although she has done a lot of other interesting things including songwriting, acting, DJing, even some modelling, and there is plenty more to discover, so let’s find out what happened next. s11

1997: After bringing the Shakespear’s Sister project to an end for the first time, Siobhan went off to do something a little different, by doing some straight acting in the short low-budget film Pinned, where she looked remarkably plain and subdued compared to her famous goth image from five years earlier. I’ve only seen a trail myself, unfortunately it seems that it didn’t get many positive reviews. vlcsnap-00051

Also in this year Marcella released “Flower”, the final single from the album “Feeler”.

1998: Siobhan reunited with Keren and Sara for the first time since 1988, and it seems that it was also the first time that they had seen one another since the split a decade earlier. They took part in Channel 4’s “A Song For Eurotrash“, a compilation album where various singers performed cover versions of songs made famous by the Eurovision Song Contest, and they contributed their version of Abba’s 1974 winner “Waterloo”. They were also interviewed by Chris Evans on TFI Fridayvlcsnap-00029

Marcella has done some acting too, including appearing in the 1978 Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band film, and in this year she appeared in a film called This Town.

1999: Siobhan was interviewed alongside Keren and Sara for BBC2’s Young Guns Go For It, a series that looked back at 1980s pop music, to tell the story of Bananarama. vlcsnap-00105

2001: Marcella released her fourth solo album “Dancing Madly Sideways”. Bananarama were featured on Channel 4’s Top Ten, looking back at successful girl groups, which didn’t feature a contribution from Siobhan, but did from Marcella, who told the story of why the video to “Stay” was banned in Germany. They were also featured in BBC2’s I Love 1982, the year they had their first hit single. Shakespear’s Sister featured in an edition of BBC2’s TOTP2. vlcsnap-00002

2002: Bananarama were featured in yet another pop nostalgia series, ITV1’s Smash!, where Siobhan spoke again about her 80s days. Siobhan also joined Keren and Sara on stage at a London nightclub to perform “Venus” in celebration of the 20th anniversary of their first hit single. It seems that this is the only time they performed live together in the period between the split in 1988 and the reunion in 2017, and it was intended to be a one-off. vlcsnap-00104Siobhan released the single “Bitter Pill” under her own name which just missed the Top 100, and Marcella was the guest vocalist on Aurora’s “The Day It Rained Forever” which reached no. 29. Shakespear’s Sister were featured in BBC1’s It Takes Two, a documentary looking back at pop duos. 

2003: Siobhan appeared as a panellist on BBC2’s Never Mind The Buzzcocks, and also contributed to a documentary about the 25th anniversary of Smash Hits magazineShakespear’s Sister were featured on TOTP2 again

2004: Siobhan obtained the rights to her rejected third album “#3”, meaning it was finally available to buy eight years after it was made. Also in this year a best-of was released featuring a CD containing all the hits and some extras, plus a DVD of all the great videos and the Russian film. Siobhan appeared on Never Mind The Buzzcocks again, this time on the Christmas special. bestof0001

Bananarama were featured in a BBC2 documentary looking back at the 20th anniversary of Band Aid. Siobhan also did of a cover version of the Joy Division song “She’s Lost Control”, the video is a little risque to say the least.

2005: A second best-of was released called “Long Live The Queens!”, featuring some B-sides and remixes, along with “The MGA Sessions” album. Siobhan also released the singles “Bad Blood” and “Pulsatron”, which reached no. 95, and the video featured a brief appearance from her old mate Jacquie O’Sullivan. vlcsnap-00008

“Stay” was also included in Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Pop Videos, and Siobhan rerecorded “Venus” which was her chart-topping single in America.

2006: Siobhan rerecorded “Stay” where she performed all the vocals herself. Bananarama were featured in BBC1’s Be My Baby, a documentary about girl groups. By this point Marcella had formed a new band and released the album “The Upside Of Being Down”. Shakespear’s Sister were once again featured on TOTP2.

2009: The Shakespear’s Sister project was revived, with the fourth album “Songs From The Red Room” being released. Siobhan promoted this by being interviewed on ITV1’s Loose Women. She also performed her first gig under the Shakespear’s Sister name for almost 15 years in trendy Hoxton! vlcsnap-00086

2010: Marcella appeared as a contestant on ITV1’s musical contest Popstar To Operastar, where pop singers were challenged to sing in an operatic style. She was knocked out in the penultimate edition, finishing third overall. She also appeared on various shows talking about her career including BBC1’s BreakfastITV1’s Loose Women and The Alan Titchmarch Showand Channel 5’s Live From Studio Fivevlcsnap-00062

Siobhan made a video for the single “It’s A Trip”, again she had a distinctive look and it was great seeing her wear the old makeup again, she’s still got it. This is also my favourite song of hers from this era, I get something of a Goldfrapp/Moloko vibe from it. A limited-edition DVD was released of the videos from this era. Siobhan also went on tour, including a performance at the Isle Of Wight Festival. vlcsnap-00064

In November of this year, “Stay” entered the singles chart again for the first time since 1992 after a new generation was own over by this classic following a memorable performance by Cher Lloyd on ITV1’s The X Factor, it reached no. 12.

2011: The fifth Shakespear’s Sister album “Cosmic Dancer” was released, and a video was made for “Someone Else’s Girl”, which features the lyric “uh-oh, I’m in trouble“, which is a lovely tribute to Shampoo. Siobhan rerecorded “Really Saying Something” to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of Bananarama’s first single, and an album of a live concert from 1992 was released, along with “The Red Room Sessions”. She also appeared in the short film What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor.

2012: Two more best-ofs were released called “Rarities” and “Remixes”. Siobhan featured in yet another pop music documentary, BBC2’s I Was In A Girl Band Once. There are a few other videos on YouTube from around this time of Siobhan being interviewed for various websites talking about her careervlcsnap-00023

2013: Two more best-ofs were released both called “The Other Side”. The Shakespear’s Sister project came to an end for a second time, and all the online presence seemed to be removed, including the official website, along with the social media pages. Marcella’s fifth solo album “The Vehicle” was released which included a solo version of “Stay” and she was interviewed on Loose Women again. Later in the year she released a special Christmas album called “For The Holidays”. vlcsnap-00046

2014: Siobhan performed as a guest vocalist with Dexys Midnight Runners at the Glastonbury Festival (nice piece of trivia: Siobhan’s sister Maire played Eileen in the video for Dexys’ transatlantic chart-topper “Come On Eileen”). Shakespear’s Sister were also featured in BBC4’s Goth At The BBC compilation. vlcsnap-00012

In July of this year, Sara from Bananarama tweeted a picture of herself and Keren having a party with Siobhan, and it seems that this meetup was the first step towards their reunion, and Sara stated that her and Keren were round Siobhan’s house in Bethnal Green. Now this is where I live in London, and to say that I was surprised to discover Siobhan almost literally lived down the road from me is an understatement. This is even more odd considering I had read that Siobhan now lived in Los Angeles. Why she swapped LA for the ever-so-slightly less glamorous Bethnal Green I have no idea.

2015: Marcella released her sixth solo album “Grey Matterz”. Also around this time Shakespear’s Sister were featured in a picture clue round on BBC1’s game show Pointless, now there’s a legacy! pointless

2016: When looking for videos on YouTube, I found one that features an extravagantly dressed Siobhan live on stage during a special Halloween concert at a nightclub in Los Angeles. I don’t know if she is into all of this kind of thing, and maybe she does like to do some moonlighting performing burlesque down the pub whilst wearing a basque and fishnet stockings, but either way it was rather surprising. One YouTube comment said that she looked like “Lady Gaga’s grandmother”. vlcsnap-00110

2017: Siobhan announced that she would rejoin Bananarama for a UK tour, the first that they had ever done with the original lineup. They appeared on lots of TV shows to promote this, including BBC1’s The One Show and Breakfast, ITV’s This Morning, and featured in lots of magazines. They also performed “Venus” and “Cruel Summer” on various shows. We better make the most of it, because in one interview that I read, when Siobhan was asked if she would reunite with Marcella, she simply said “it’s certainly not on my agenda at the moment”. It still seems to be very cold between the two ladies 25 years after the split and it’s hugely unlikely that they’ll ever work together again. vlcsnap-00030

The tour has been very well received, it has got many positive reviews from critics and fans have loved it. And it seems that they did perform a special version of “Stay” which was a very emotional moment for everyone. I’ve also been looking at Siobhan’s Instagram page and she’s been putting pictures of herself on there in places that are within walking distance from where I live and she does seem to be fond of the Cockney culture, unbelievable. vlcsnap-00129

2018: Well this hasn’t happened yet of course but the plan is that Bananarama will perform the next stage of the reunion tour in Canada and America where they had a number one single with “Venus” in 1986, and it is rather remarkable to think that Siobhan will have her 60th birthday in this year. After that, who knows…? Thanks to Siobhan and Marcella for lots of great musical memories over the years.

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.