Music Week's round-up of the latest album reissues and catalogue releases, including Bananarama and Tanita Tikaram...
(Strike Force Entertainment SFE 080T)/Viva (SFE 081D)
Undeniably at their peak as a trio in the 1980s, Bananarama were a duo – comprising Keren Woodward and Sara Dallin - by the time they released their ninth studio album Drama in 2005 and their tenth (and most recent) album Viva in 2009. Interest in the group increased recently when they were rejoined by Siobhan Fahey for a successful UK and US tour in the last year, so it is an ideal time for Drama and Viva to be released in expanded editions for the first time. Although Drama performed poorly at the time, peaking at No.169, it consisted of bright pop tunes with an updated ‘nanas sound, and spawned their highest charting single in 16 years, Move In My Direction. Although slightly less successful, follow-up Look At The Floor (Hypnotic Tango) also breached the Top 40. Newly expanded to a triple disc set, with a 20 page booklet including an introduction written by Keren and Sara, the original album is supplemented by a host of full length mixes of the hits, as well as edits and dubs. I’m not sure that anyone needs 15 versions of Move In My Direction but if they do, here’s the place to find them. Viva - which charted higher (No.87) and spawned the No.44 hit Love Comes - was an electro/dance collaboration with producer Ian Masterson, who has worked with Kylie Minogue and The Pet Shop Boys, and includes songs they wrote with him as well as their spin on familiar fare like Sounds Of Silence (Simon & Garfunkel), S-S-S-Single Bed (Fox) and The Runner (The Three Degrees). Woodward and Dallin again contribute to liner notes for this double disc upgrade, which also includes extended dance mixes, edits and singles bonus tracks.
(Music On CD/Warner Music MOCCD 13697)
Tanita Tikaram’s 1988 debut album, Ancient Heart, was a massive success, spinning off four hit singles (Good Tradition, Twist In My Sobriety, Cathedral Song and World Outside Your Window), reaching No.3 in the chart, and selling in excess of 600,000 copies. To mark its 30th anniversary, it has been released in this special edition, which adds two bonus tracks (Friends and I Love The Heaven’s Solo). It is an intensely personal, wistful, melancholic and mature album for which Tikaram, then just 19 years old, wrote all the music and lyrics. Although the more uptempo, cavalier Good Tradition was its highest charting single, the collection’s most beguiling and enduring track is Tikaram’s signature tune, Twist In My Sobriety, with its opening Maya Angelou quote “all God’s children need travelling shoes” being part of its dense, obscure lyrics, while its stark, killer tune is beautifully embroidered with a faux-classical oboe cameo from Malcolm Messiter, that weaves in and out of the chorus. The album is released simultaneously on the Music On Vinyl label in a 180gm gatefold sleeve, white vinyl edition (MOVLP 2337) without the bonus tracks.
Fame Northern Soul
(Kent CDKEND 475)
Rick Hall’s Fame label is synonymous with Southern Soul, partly because of its geographical location (Muscle Shoals, Alabama) and partly because of its output, but many of the soulful dance records they produced, ultimately went on to be adopted by the UK’s thriving Northern Soul scene. Twenty-four examples of the genre, as originally recorded between 1964 and 1974. Some were released at the time, others have emerged since but all are here on merit, with pumping rhythms, catchy grooves and stomping soul aplenty. Among the highlights are Don Brantley’s self-penned The Door To My Heart, a pulsating, fast-paced song featuring brass and organ as well as Brantley’s urgent vocal; George Soule’s more loose-limbed workout, Midnight Affair; future High Wire hitmaker Linda Carr’s Motownesque (Supremes)-styled Everytime; and David & The Giants’ gorgeous, uplifting stomper, Ten Miles High, a catchy pop-slanted confection complete with soaring strings and phasing. A 24 page booklet adds copious background information and relevant illustrations.