Fun Boy Three made a Go Go’s song a hit! Now that’s REALLY saying something!
Short lived British trio Fun Boy Three came out of The Specials in 1981. Former band members Terry Hall (b.1959), Neville Staple (b.1955) and Lynval Golding (b.1951) developed a ska sound in to a newave pop sound that was beginning to filter through all the punk and disco that still dominating the charts. Hall, who was in a relationship with Americal artist Jane Wiedlin of punk band The Go Go’s, had co-written their US hit “Our Lips Are Sealed” at the beginning of 1981 before the ‘Three’ launched their own career with “The Lunatics (Have Taken Over The Asylum)” later that year.
The song made No.20 in the UK and mid charted in parts of Europe. For their second single, they covered the 1939 Sy Oliver and Trummy Young written “‘Tain’t What You Do (It’s The Way That You Do It)”, only slightly adjusted to the new title “It Ain’t What You Do (It’s The Way That You Do It)”. The group enlisted an unknown trio of girls who had begun their recording career the same year. Sara Dallin, Keren Woodward and Siobhan Fahey called themselves Bananarama and the unlikely sextet released this new version in January 1982. With plenty of radio play, the song soon found itself flying up the charts, peaking at No.4 in the UK and making the top ten all over Europe, thus launching the career of what would become the most enduringly successful female group of all time.
Two months later, Fun Boy Three released their self-titled debut album, which went top ten in the UK and was Gold certified for sales of more than 100,000 copies. Clearly the threesome enjoyed working with these new girl comers as three months later, they were back in the studio, this time as a guest of Bananarama to record The Velvelettes 1964 single, “Really Saying Something”. The song was not included on Fun Boy Three’s album, but instead on Bananarama’s debut, “Deep Sea Skiving”. It peaked at No.5 in the UK in April 1982 and made the top twenty on the US dance chart. Fun Boy Three released one more track from their debut album in 1982, “The Telephone Always Rings”, giving them a fourth consecutive UK top twenty hit from one album.
Fun Boy Three next recorded their version of George Gershwin’s 1934 song “Summertime”, which went to No.18 in the UK before beginning work on their next album, but the first release, “The More I See (The Less I Believe)”, bombed and only made it to No.68 at home. Much more successful was the second single, “The Tunnel Of Love”, which put them back in the UK top ten early in 1983. Their second album, “Waiting”, followed in February and would attain a Silver certification. For the album, the boys recorded their own version of “Our Lips Are Sealed” and this was released as the third single in the Spring of ’83. Whilst it went top twenty Stateside, The Go Go’s original flopped in the UK, but this new recording by Hall and his band mates took them into the UK top ten, at number seven, their fourth in just over a year.
It is sometimes said it is best to get out when you’re on top and this is what Fun Boy Three did. They disbanded after just two years together and went their separate ways! Hall formed the group The Colourfield in 1984 and had a top twenty hit with “Thinking Of You”. He later met and worked with The Eurythmics Dave Stewart as part of a project called Vegas. The pair had a chart hit in 1992 with “Possessed”. After releasing solo material, Terry reformed The Specials in 2008 and has continually performed and toured with the group ever since. In 2019, they released a brand new album, “Encore”, which went to No.1 in the UK, their first and best ever chart performance since originally forming in 1977! Neville Staple went solo and has worked with the likes of No Doubt while relentlessly touring the world with his accompanying band. Lynval Golding has also toured as a solo performer for many years before rejoining The Specials in 2008.
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