Random Jukebox: The Belle Stars’ Sign of the Times

So restart the jukebox and do us all a favour. That music’s lost its taste so try another flavour… The Belle Stars.

Sign of the Times was one of my sister’s earliest record purchases – the third, if I remember correctly – though it’s fair to say I probably played it even more than she did.

An offshoot of another all-female outfit, 2 Tone Records signings The Bodysnatchers, The Belle Stars first found fame after signing to the legendary Stiff Records. But they achieved their biggest success when they completed their label boss Dave Robinson’s masterplan – updating a trio of classic novelty anthems for the new wave age and then an original. Combining cut-glass spoken word and slinky guitar riffs, Sign Of The Times might have been a more grown-up affair, but with its chant-like chorus and easy-to-learn dance routine, it still had plenty of playground appeal.

The 45 was the sassy septet’s biggest commercial success, reaching No.3 in February 1983, a time when Clare Hirst had joined their all-singing all-playing line up. Two and a half years later she would be David Bowie’s saxophone player of choice at Live Aid in July 1985.

The same month, the ailing Stiff label was bought by Trevor Horn’s ZTT. Producer Horn helped the trio to record tracks for a new album in New York. However, only one more single was released. World Domination failed to live up to its title and flopped in the UK, although it spent two weeks at No.2 on the U.S. dance chart. After this, the band split.

Steve Pafford

Turn Back The Clock, a comprehensive CD/DVD box set of the Belle Stars output (including three previously unreleased tracks produced by Anne Dudley) is issued by Edsel on September 20

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Steve Pafford
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