Memory is a funny thing. I remember The Bangles as one of the biggest girl bands of the 1980s and yet despite a succession of enduring songs including nostalgia party favourite Walk Like An Egyptian, their chart history is only modestly impressive, at least in the UK.
Eternal Flame and Walk Like An Egyptian both topped the US singles chart, while Manic Monday and their cover version of Simon and Garfunkel’s Hazy Shade of Winter (recorded for the film Less Than Zero) peaked at number two. But on our side of the pond, only Eternal Flame reached number one, while Manic Monday and Egyptian peaked at two and three respectively, giving the band their only top ten entries in the UK.
But Manic Monday was where it all started in the cold, dark, early weeks of 1986. Penned by Prince under the pseudonym ‘Christopher’ (the name of his character in Under the Cherry Moon), the song had originally been written for another all-girl band, Apollonia 6, who had been formed as part of his musical stable. However, it was never released and Prince instead offered it to the Bangles, who gave it a mainstream pop makeover complete with their trademark swooping harmonies, with sisters Vicki and Debbi Peterson and bassist Michael Steele lending backing to Susanna Hoffs’ lead vocal. It’s a beautiful, wistful track that marries perfectly with Hoffs’ lilting delivery.
The band split up in 1989 despite the commercial success of Eternal Flame and their third album, Everything. They reformed ten years later to record a song for the soundtrack of the film Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me at the behest of director Jay Roach – who just happens to be married to Hoffs.
Hoffs and her family – her mother Tamar Simon Hoffs was a director – were also friends of Leonard Nimoy (yes, that Leonard Nimoy), resulting in his appearance in the video for the band’s cover of Katrina and the Waves’ Going Down to Liverpool, the single that preceded Manic Monday and their rise to fame.
Anyhow, back to Manic Monday. 30 years old this year but still sounding as fresh as when it first came out. Enjoy.
A song for Saturday