Rating: 4 out of 5.

What has literally lasted 40 years, started with a Swahili song, made with different collaborators and producers, gone on to make 11 albums to date, have an entry in the Guinness Book of Records, looks to have no signs of slowing down and in my eyes at least, the envy of many groups?

Bananarama that is what. 2020 has been a funny year and to help while away the time, Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward sat down to write their story and what a story.

It’s a blanket and PJ book for a cold day. Written in a style that reads as though the girls are with you for a cozy chat about the past and present, it starts before they even knew they would be famous or forge an enviable back catalogue of music and memories. To top this there is also a friendship that makes you the reader both happy and wishful that you too can have one as close as this. Some of it captured in 47 pages of pictures.

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Coming from a time before the internet gave you “access all areas” of a celebrities life, it was quite shocking to read that Keren was pregnant during the True Confessions album. I can’t proclaim to be a super fan, to be honest, personal details of celebrities I admire the most don’t really both me, so this was a surprise to me. And the revelations kept coming. 

Along the way we had snippets of time where the girls would mingle and hang out with the likes of the late George Michael and Keith Flint. All stories affectionately told. It’s a glimpse into the life they have as pop royalty. 

The warts-n-all come with Keren confessing about her struggle with mental health. She has been been surrounded by it since childhood with her own mother suffering badly from it at a time when there were no self-help books or support groups. 

They talk about their struggles from bedsit living to the glamour of getting a council flat where they held a brief conversation with Robert DeNiro before agreeing to meet him. And the struggles of not really being taken seriously.  It’s easy to dismiss girl groups in the male dominated industry and this topic is mentioned throughout the book. And you can be forgiven for thinking that they just turned up and sang songs. Delve in deeper and you discover they are more than pretty musical things. Bananarama write most of their songs. 

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What is apparent is the almost absence of mentioning Siobhan Fahey and Jacquie O’Sullivan. Not really a criticism because when you strip back the banana skin, Bananarama has been a 2 piece girl group for 30 years. Hard to really compute that they were only a 3 piece for 1 decade. It’s in this book that for me as a reader, my mind is blown away. You simply forget they are a 2 piece.

So is this a book about the end? Not a chance. At 58 and 59 respectively, the Banana’s give zero hints that they will be hanging up the microphones soon and personally I’m glad about that. I’m quite sure they really have something more to say. Book 2? I suspect so. In the meantime, you need to read this one first.

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