Shakespears Sister: Singles Party (1988-2019)

review shakespears sister x1 cong

Everyone knows Shakespears Sister, though you might struggle to remember a song. “Two girls, dancy pop, something to do with Bananarama and Dave Stewart, fell out ..?” Well that’s all we remembered.

Marcella Detroit and Siobhan Fahey formed the band in 1988 after Fahey left Bananarama. They split in 1993 after Detroit was sacked in public at the 1993 Ivor Novello Awards, by Fahey’s publicist; not even Fahey herself. Now they’re mates again; it was all just youthful stupidity, stress and pride.

We weren’t expecting to like this collection of singles but it’s pretty good and if they can overcome music fans’ snobbery they might get a shot at more hits.

The album is in three sections, at least to our ears: the early stuff, the hits, and the later, better stuff. The opener is their first single Break My Heart (You Really) — cracking guitar solo in the middle — and then its original B-side, Heroine. Familiarity kicks in with You’re History, and a few songs later Stay. It’s all very 80s, with synth beats and bright production. Fans of Stranger Things might expect this to appear in the show sometime; not only does it fit the show’s 80s theme but the lyrics are apt: “You’d better hope and pray / That you make it safe / Back to your own world”. All more enjoyable than we remembered, even the cheesier I Don’t Care.

Some of the later songs are better though, familiarity not having bred contempt, but also because the purer electronic sound is good, songs such as Bitter Pill and Bad Blood.

There are two new songs: All The Queen’s Horses, which suggests they’ve been listening to Calexico, and the twangy, bluesy CU Next Tuesday.

It’s all quality stuff; classy song-writing and a wide knowledge of music and not, as we thought, just a couple of pop stars: Detroit is a professional singer and toured with Bob Seger and Eric Clapton, neither men who have to take second best. She co-wrote Clapton’s Lay Down Sally. Fahey co-wrote the Bluebells’ Young at Heart.

We guess from the punning title that a typical Shakespears Sister fan is a woman in her car driving to work and singing along, but there’s a definite appeal for a wider audience.

This comes with a “comprehensive” singles collection, two new tracks plus rarities, unheard tracks and remixes. The deluxe version has a nice case and informative interview.


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