Anorak | The ultimate 80s female pop icon turns 50

The ultimate 80s female pop icon turns 50

by | 13th, January 2009

A lot of fuss was made recently about a certain 80s popstress reaching her fiftieth year. Well, I have to say other than the odd tune Madonna’s whole career has pretty much passed me by. During the 80s no self-respecting Wedding Present fan like myself would touch her stuff, and when it became a bit more acceptable to us anaemic indie types to champion dance music in the 90s, the Detroit girl was doing schlock like Justify My Love.

No, if there is one 80s female legend whose 50th birthday (and I can’t believe this as I type it as she is 50 this week) that is so worth celebrating it is Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles fame.

These days The Bangles get a fairly knowing press that usually mentions their Prince associations, big hair and a novelty tune that for some bizarre reasons never gets played on the radio during times of Middle East conflict. Odd. But this does Susanna and the band a massive disservice.

I first heard her voice on album called Rainy Day back in 1982. This collection featured various members of what has become known as The Paisley Underground doing barbecue sinaglong versions of their favourite 60s tunes. There are several killer tracks on the album but not more so that Hoffs’ cover of the Dylan,via Nico track I’ll Keep It With Mine. (homemade vid here) It is hard to do the song justice but think a gorgeous vocal decorated a plaintive acoustic strum and a soaring violin that towards the end gets almost feverish. I’d have it in my top ten tracks ever.

The Bangles first album All Over The Place was also a milestone for me. Long before they discovered serious hair gel the girls were dressing in fabulous LA style 60s clobber, playing Beatley tunes and perfecting their amazing three, or it might even be four part harmonies. They were unstoppable.

Of course by the time Prince got involved I’d moved on and although there are some goodies on their second album Different Light, notably the Big Star cover September Gurls, it was too saccharine for ears that had been diverted by the feedback drenched Jesus and Mary Chain.

Which made it even more surprising that album three Everything – was such a corker. A return to their 60s roots and all the better for it. Even the huge Mills and Boon inspired single Eternal Flame sounds great 20 years on.

On the subject of Guilty Pleasures, those who stuck with Susanna probably have a sneaky regard for her early 90s solo album When You Are A Boy which also has some top tunes in a better than Belinda Carlisle type way.

Since then Hoffs has dropped in and out of music. Taking time to have kids etc. The Bangles reunited for a quality album Dolls House, a few years back and still sounded great live. More recently the fabulous Hoffs vocals have been put to great use on the Sid n Susie album with legendary power popster Matthew Sweet. Kind of Rainy Day part two Hoffs shines on covers such as The Stone Poneys Different Drum and the Velvets; I’ll be your Mirror.

So happy birthday Susanna Hoffs. You look and sound as great as ever

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Posted: 13th, January 2009 | In: Celebrities Comment | TrackBack | Permalink