Bibliophile | ‘Really Saying Something’ the story of Bananarama

Bananarama: Really Saying Something
Keren Woodward and Sara Dallin

In the late 1980s, Bananarama entered the Guinness Book of Records as the most successful girl group of all time. Not only did they have a swag of hits around the globe, they also wrote many of their songs, refused to be treated as sex objects and always just looked like they were out to have some fun.

Written by the band’s two longstanding members Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward this joint story of the band sees the two popstars taking turns paragraph by paragraph to tell their story in their own words.

Acknowledging that other members of the group may have different recollections and points of view, the two friends share the journey they’ve been on since becoming friends in Childhood.

Together they chart their journey from childhood friends, to teenagers making up dance routines in their bedrooms, and onto adult life in London at the start of the 1980s. Teaming up with Siobhan Fahey go from living at the YMCA, to camping out in a hovel of a studio owned by Sex Pistols member Paul Cook, before moving into a council flat together.

Soon the trio are performing in alternative clubs and release their first single in 1981, a cover of the Black Blood track Aie a Mwana. It’s not an obvious choice for a pop hit – it’s sung in Swahili. Soon afterwards they team up with Fun Boy Three to sing backing vocals on their cover of It Ain’t What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It). Fun Boy Three returned the favour singing backup on Bananarama’s He Was Really Saying Something, and from 1982 they were a staple on the British charts into the next decade.

Through the book Keren and Sara document their many adventures, their love of having a good time and what seems like their almost complete lack of interest in being celebrities.

The book reveals the many different and surprising friendships their career has lead them to, while their close association with Wham members George Michael and Andrew Ridgely is well known, it’s surprising to find they used to take their kids to hang out with Prodigy vocalist Keith Flint on his country property, met Keith Richards as teenagers, and partied with Prince.

The book doesn’t shy away from discussing their split with founding member Siobhan Fahey who decamped in 1987 to form Shakespear’s Sister. The trio would reunite in 2017 to deliver a live tour around the UK. They also talk about the decision a few years later to move ahead without replacement Jacqui O’Sullivan.

Serious topics are also covered including gender equality, mental health concerns, the deaths of close friends, and more recent challenges including facing menopause. Ultimately it’s a wonderful tale of long lasting friendship through life.

With a friendship that is entering its sixth decade, and a career that will mark its 40th anniversary in 2021, the story of Bananarama will be of interest to more than just the band’s fans.

Graeme Watson

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