Between the Devil and the Deep Sea Skiving
By Keeley Moss
Despite having three singers, Bananarama unusually didn’t incorporate many harmony parts into their music – rather all three of them sang in unison more often than not. It shouldn’t have worked – but it did, and is a prime example of a pop group taking a potential negative and alchemising it into a positive instead. The sound of Keren, Sara and Siobhan singing the same parts in the same key but each with their individual similar-but-subtly-different voices melding together is a big part of what makes their sound so distinctive.
Many will be familiar with Bananarama’s biggest hits but they released a lot of singles that charted lower if at all that are every bit as good as the airplay smashes that carried on up the the charts throughout the 1980s. Singles such as A Trick of the Night, from their 1986 coming-of-age album True Confessions, a record that signalled a new maturity within the group. The last single to be released from the album, in February 1987, it is a beautiful song, boasting the same killer melodies, but with a grittier edge and more than a hint of darkness.
And what darkness – the cautionary message in the lyrics are directed towards a friend who had gone to seek his fortune in the big city and ended up a rent boy. Agadoo this was not – with A Trick of the Night, Bananarama would thrillingly expose and explore the seedy underbelly of 1980s London. Not for the first time and certainly not for the last the general public didn’t agree, and it stalled at #32 before boomeranging back out of the charts the next week (in my native Republic of Ireland meanwhile, it reached the dizzy heights of #24).
If you haven’t heard A Trick of the Night, you really have got to get it into your life (to quote the Fabs. Speaking of which, Bananarama would cover The Beatles’ Help! for a 1989 Comic Relief single, a fun but flimsy give-and-go in collaboration with French & Saunders, with all proceeds going to charidee). But whereas the Nanas’ phoned-in cover of Help! would crash-land in the top 3, the far-superior A Trick of the Night only made the briefest of excursions into the lower reaches of the Top 40.
There’s really no justice in the world.
Copyright: Keeley Moss ℗&©2020. All rights reserved.
A Trick of the Night written by Jolley/Swain. Published by Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC ©1986
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