The Return of Shakespears Sister isn’t just about the music

Ken Foster
4 min readNov 6, 2019

After a quarter century not speaking, Siobhan Fahey and Marcella Detroit teach us that it’s never too late for second acts.

Last Thursday, on Halloween, Marcella Detroit and Siobhan Fahey managed the ultimate trick or treat: dressed as gothic-psychedelic cowboys, they played their first official gig in over a quarter of a century, launching their “Ride Again” tour and new EP. For a particular demographic (including me) this was huge. Though the duo is known for their hit “Stay,” from back in 1992, the album that spawned that single, Hormonally Yours, is one of the rare discs of that time that holds up even now: melodic, bitter, witty and expertly sung by two distinctly different voices. These women, now 67 and 61, aren’t letting anything go, and the new tracks, released in bits over the summer before their EP Ride Again dropped last month, bridge time and trends to combine a strange brand of Americana with a distinctly punky edge.

I grew up old-school Bananarama. This was back in the old, old days, when you discovered new music by hearing it at a record store, a friend’s house or by reading about it in a music magazine. You might also hear it in a club, if you lived near a city that had such things and were old enough to get in. But I was in rural Pennsylvania, so my entire understanding of British Pop started with the Go-Gos cover of “Our Lips Are Sealed,” which lead to the Fun Boy Three original, and then to Fun Boy Three’s occasional back up trio, Bananarama. Nothing about Bananarama made sense, which is what made them so undeniably awesome: They sang in unison rather than harmony, and their flat vocal deliveries — even with three of them signing — provided a paradoxical edge. You might think there was nothing there at all, until you realized they were singing almost exclusively about stalkers, male prostitutes and social justice.

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Ken Foster

Author of fiction and non-fiction; dog guy; bad boxer. New book, City of Dogs, is just out now from Avery/Penguin.