Saturday, October 24, 2015

"Sign of the Times" by The Belle Stars

Song#:  1441
Date:  05/07/1983
Debut:  81
Peak:  75
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  With The Go-Go's finally breaking through, it was the right time for other all-female bands to make their marks. The British septet The Belle Stars formed in 1980 and quickly gained a solid fan base. They signed to Stiff Records and began to issue singles. Unfortunately, none of their original tunes were catching on. The label thought it might be better for the band to release a couple of cover songs to generate interest. They release "Iko Iko," a #20 US hit in 1965 for The Dixie Cups, and it broke them through to the UK chart at #35. Two more charting covers followed that included their UK #11 version of "The Clapping Song" (US #8, 1965, Shirley Ellis). Now that they had some chart clout, the time was right to issue an original. This song, written by the band, would be their biggest hit reaching #3 on the UK chart. It also served as the first single from their self-titled debut album. In the US, the song didn't get much support and fell off the chart after a month. Unfortunately, successive singles didn't chart very well and by 1984 they were reduced to a trio. Two years later, the remaining members called it quits.

ReduxReview:  I have heard of The Belle Stars and vaguely remember their "Iko Iko," but I didn't realize they were a band that wrote their own songs. I thought they were more like a Bananarama vocal group. It's a shame they didn't hit bigger and stay together as they were pretty good. They created some quality originals like this song. It was their biggest hit in the UK, but in the States all anyone might know of them is the quirky "Iko Iko" remake (a song I really don't like). If you like this song, check out some of their other originals like "Ci Ya Ya" and "Sweet Memory" (#22 UK).

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Five members of The Belle Stars were previously in another all-female band called The Bodysnatchers. Formed in 1979, the seven-person ska band had a brush with success when their single "Let's Do Rock Steady" reached #18 on the UK chart in 1980. It led to them supporting The Go-Go's on their UK tour. But the following year, disagreements arose about the musical direction of the band and two of the members quit. The remaining five decided to stay together and start another band. They hired two other women, including lead singer Jennie Matthias, and The Belle Stars were born.


1 comment: