The very week that “It Aint What You Do…” dropped out of the top 40, a new collaboration between Bananarama and the Fun Boy Three entered. This time, FB3 were the guests, and their vocals were less evident, though their production was front and centre.
In contrast to “It Ain’t What You Do” – a jazz song successfully wrenched away from its natural idiom – “Really Saying Something” was a girl group song from the start. Composed by Motown in-house songwriters Norman Whitfield, Eddie Holland and William Stevenson in 1964, it was a minor US hit for The Velvelettes (whose name seems calculated to make you think you’ve mistyped every time – or is that just me?) early the following year. Perhaps surprisingly, it never broke through in the UK, though both it and their other US hit “Needle In A Haystack” later found favour on the Northern Soul scene. That scene was presumably also responsible for giving them their only UK chart entry when “These Things Will Make Me Love You” belatedly hit the lower end of the Top 50 in 1971, some years after the group had retired.
Of course this is a Bananarama showcase, but underpinned by FB3’s hallmark drums. There’s not a lot to say about this, really, but it did give the collaboration a second top ten hit. Being more of a Bananarama single, it was a surprising choice for inclusion on the first career-spanning compilation of Terry Hall‘s work, Through The Years, especially as “It Aint What You Do…” wasn’t included. Though it was a more obvious choice than “Nelson Mandela” by The Special A.K.A., which Hall wasn’t involved in any way, and which led to the album being quietly deleted after its first pressing.
The near-instrumental B-side is more recognisably Fun Boy Three-ish. They don’t get writing credits (Bananarama are listed alongside former Department S frontman Vaughan Toulouse) but as producers their mark is all over it. Not being a “proper” FB3 track, and rather weird for Bananarama, it didn’t get issued on CD for a very long time, but is now included on the deluxe edition of the Deep Sea Skiving album. I much prefer it to “The Funrama Theme”.
Interestingly, Bananarama weren’t the only group The Fun Boy Three were lending their talents to; a reggae outfit named Musical Youth had just signed a deal with MCA and FB3 produced what was supposed to be their major label debut, “Youth of Today”. But MCA weren’t happy with the result, and as far as I’m aware, it’s never been released. Musical Youth went on to have a surprise number one with “Pass The Dutchie”, and “Youth of Today” was issued as a follow-up, but in a version produced by Peter Collins. You can’t win ’em all…
This one’s a winner, though. I mean, it’s no “Robert De Niro’s Waiting”, but still…
Loads of mixes to get through here – more than for any actual Fun Boy Three single. We’ll start with the 7″:
The 12″ offers alternative mixes of both tracks:
And while this series is really about UK singles, it would be churlish and stingy not to also offer the mixes that John Luongo did for the US market. The “instrumental” actually retains the FB3 vocals, so is the closest you’ll get to a pure Fun Boy Three version:
Link: Bananarama & Fun Boy Three – Really Saying Something (US 7″)
Link: Bananarama & Fun Boy Three – Really Saying Something (US 12″)
Link: Bananarama & Fun Boy Three – Really Saying Something (US instrumental mix)
Next time… ska!