Band Review: The Bangles

The Bangles were definitely one of the premiere girl groups of the 1980s. My first memories of hearing them would have been when “Manic Monday” was receiving airplay on the radio as a current single back in the mid-1980s. I was about ten or eleven years old at the time, and I can remember falling in love with the song. Over the next several months, I remember hearing “If She Knew What She Wants,” “Walk Like an Egyptian,” and “Walking Down Your Street,” and that I ended up liking all of these songs as well.

In the fall of 1987, when I started the seventh grade, the Bangles released a song they had recorded for the Less Than Zero film soundtrack – a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Hazy Shade of Winter.” This song was quite a cover of the original; it was much more upbeat, had a “harder” sound, and it also cut out a verse. However, I loved this version of the song, and it ultimately helped to cement my interest in the group.

The next year, at the beginning of eighth grade, the Bangles released their next album, Everything. The lead-off single, “In Your Room,” had more of a “pop-psychedelic” influence to it. I liked it pretty well, although not quite as much as the other songs I had heard from the band previously. The next single, a ballad called “Eternal Flame,” has become my all-time song by the Bangles. “Eternal Flame” was so different from what I had from the group, and I was pleased when the song hit number one on the pop chart. One more single, “Be With You,” was released. However, the single didn’t perform very well on the charts, and that fact disappointed me, because I thought the song deserved to do better. I was even more disappointed by the news that the group had broken up.

My sister picked up a greatest hits album by the Bangles, and I was able to hear a couple of songs from their first album: “Hero Takes a Fall” and “Going Down to Liverpool.” These songs definitely had a much more “raw” sound than the material I was familiar with. However, I loved the attitude that’s prevalent in “Hero Takes a Fall”; it’s a perfect “kiss off” song.

In the early 1990s, Susanna Hoffs released her first solo album, When You’re a Boy; the lead-off single, “My Side of the Bed,” was a minor hit. It was much more acoustic than anything she had released with the Bangles. The only other solo song I heard from Susanna Hoffs was a cover of The Lightning Seeds’ “All I Want,” which she released in 1996. To be honest, I really didn’t care too much for it at the time it was being promoted as a single. My main problem was with Susanna’s voice; her voice just sounded so strained on this recording.

The Bangles reunited in the early 2000s, and released the album Doll Revolution. My husband and I checked out the album from the library in order to hear what the band had recorded. While the material was OK, it was nowhere near as strong as when the band was in its heyday.

The Bangles released some fantastic material back in the 1980s, and it was a disappointment when the band broke up. However, when the Bangles came back together in the 2000s, they just weren’t able to recapture the magic of the music that helped to make them popular back in the day.

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