Guilty: Thirty years of Bananarama’s “Greatest Hits Collection”

by Christopher Smith

How time flies. Can you believe that thirty, yes 30 years have now passed since Bananarama released their first, and by far, most successful compilation album?! By October 1988 Sara and Keren had been joined by Jacqui O’Sullivan in their seventh year of chart success and after four studio albums, unleashed the “The Greatest Hits Collection” on the music buying world.

Bananarama Greatest Hits Collection

In the UK it was promoted with a now legendary (and maybe cringe-worthy) advertising campaign with British politicians from all three of the main political parties dancing around the Palace of Westminster to various Bananarama hits! Sound unbelievable? Take a look:

And while many had written the group off from the very start, the album would go on to sell over a million copies in the UK and over three million worldwide. Over half a million copies have been sold in America, reaffirming the love that exists for the group Stateside where they had topped the singles chart in 1986 with “Venus”.

Despite Siobhan’s departure in February of 1988 and the ‘hiring’ of Jacqui as her replacement, Bananarama had continued their run of hits with the re-recorded “I Want You Back” in April, which became one of their biggest chart hits, peaking at No.3 in Australia and spending two weeks at No.5 in the UK.

They continued this with a brand new single “Love, Truth And Honesty” in September, which preceded “The Greatest Hits Collection” and reached No.23 in the UK but sadly became only a minor hit in The States reaching No.89. This track also represented the first co-writing credit for Jacqui on a Bananarama song since she had joined the group.

“The Greatest Hits Collection” was released the following month with THAT TV advert in the UK! As previously stated, it became a huge success and was certainly a stocking filler that had to be given (Santa brought me one!). Come Christmas, the girls had delivered their cover of The Supremes 1971 hit “Nathan Jones”, originally a track from “Wow” but again re-recorded with Jacqui’s vocals and issued on the album. The track peaked at No.15 in the UK and spent eight weeks on the top 40.

Since its original release thirty years ago, “The Greatest Hits Collection” has undergone no less that three updates and re-releases. The first coming the following year with the release of the Comic Relief charity single “Help” together with French and Saunders and Kathy Burke as the fictional ‘Lananeeneenoonoo’ which gave the group their tenth UK top ten hit in February when it spend two weeks at No.3, selling over 250,000 copies.

The second reissue came in 1999 when “Trick Of The Night” and “Preacher Man” were added together with a mix of “Venus” and the Eurobeat 12″ version of “Love In The First Degree”. As a result of this “The Greatest Hits Collection” made a reappearance in the UK album chart for the first time in over ten years!

And with the original line up back in action and on tour in 2017-18, the album saw its fourth official issue in late 2017, this time as a two disc set with all of Bananarama’s singles from 1981 to 1988 as well as numerous mixes and remixes on disc two. Following their hugely successful, sellout dates across the UK that Autumn, the album re-entered the UK chart at No.45, twenty nine years after its release!

Bananarama have continued to tour and play live after nearly forty years in the business. Their songs still resonate with fans who have followed them across the decades as well as the generation or two who have discovered their music in more recent times. This ensures “The Greatest Hits Collection” will never fall out of fashion and continue to please the audience it has as well as the audience who have yet to hear a Bananarama song.

Keep up-to-date with all that Bananarama get upto through their WEBSITE and their FACEBOOK group

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Written by aylshamchris

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