Bananarama, the ‘80s UK female pop vocal group, were famous for their hits “Venus,” “I Heard a Rumor,” “Really Saying Something,” and “Cruel Summer.” Fans of the band’s bouncy bubblegum pop, might be surprised to learn the group once recorded a (completely awesome) Sex Pistols cover on an obscure 1982 soundtrack.
Stylistically, they may have been world’s apart from the UK punk scene, but actually it’s where they got their start. According to their Wikipedia entry:
The trio were ardent followers of the punk rock and post-punk music scene during the late 1970s and early 1980s and often performed impromptu sets or backing vocals at gigs for such bands as The Monochrome Set, Iggy Pop, The Jam, Department S and The Nipple Erectors.
Steve Jones and Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols helped Bananarama get their first record deal. In 1981 the members of Bananarama were living above Jones and Cook’s rehearsal room, and with their help, the group recorded their first demo “Aie a Mwana.” Further Sex Pistols connection came when Malcolm McLaren offered to manage them. McLaren’s proposal of sexually suggestive material did not fit with the group’s tomboyish image, and so Bananarama passed on McLaren’s management—probably a wise decision, as their later string of top ten UK hit singles would attest.
Still, the connections were there and in 1982 Bananarama recorded the Pistols’ “No Feelings” for the soundtrack to the film Party Party, a British teen comedy with an inspired new wave soundtrack featuring The Rezillos, Bad Manners, Elvis Costello, Altered Images, OMD and more. This is a case of an excellent soundtrack eclipsing a mediocre film. The soundtrack itself has been out of print for years, but used copies of the CD and original LP turn up regularly at decent prices—check your local markdown bins.
“No Feelings” is also available as a bonus cut on the CD reissue of Bananarama’s first album Deep Sea Skiving.
Bananarama’s recording of “No Feelings” is a fascinating cover choice—perhaps “Pretty Vacant” was a bit too obvious? It’s performed in a jaunty straight-pop style with no apologies (unless you count changing the line “you pray to your God” to “you pray to your whoo, ya-ta-ta-ta.”) I wouldn’t play the contrarian role and claim this cover to be better than the Pistols’—but I’ll state for the record that like it almost as much—for altogether different reasons—and “novelty” is not included in that list. This is legitimately awesome. It’s not going to challenge the status quo, but it will probably get you dancing.