Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Songoftheday 7/19/16 - My flag boy and your flag boy sitting by the fire, my flag boy says to your flag boy "I'm gonna set your flag on fire"...


"Iko Iko" - The Belle Stars
from the albums The Belle Stars (1983) and Rain Man (Original Soundtrack) (1989)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #14 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 10

Today's song of the day comes from the all-female pop/ska band the Belle Stars, who came together in the beginning of the 80s in England after the breakup of a previous band, the Bodysnatchers, that several of the Stars were in. Releasing their debut single in 1981, it wasn't until two years later with a cover of a 60s hit from the Dixie Cups that the group found their first success.

"Iko Iko" was a pre-rock song from the bayou land of Louisiana recorded by the incredibly un-PC-named act of Sugar Boy and his Cane Cutters (led by songwriter James Crawford) under the title "Jock-A-Mo" in 1953. Depicting the conflict between two Native American tribes, the rollicking beat belied the murderous narrative underneath...


The American girl-group Dixie Cups recorded a revamped version of the song (based on a reinterpretation of overheard version from the group's grandmother), and for the most part that is the most remembered version of the classic, reaching #20 on the pop chart and R&B chart and #23 in England in 1965...


The Belle Stars' take on "Iko Iko", which took inspiration from the Dixie Cups, originally reached the British top-40 at #35 in 1982.


Releasing their debut full-length album in 1983, the lead track from the set, "Sign Of The Times", ended up being their biggest international success, going to #3 in the UK, #75 on the American pop  chart, and #43 on the dance chart. However, after subsequent singles failed to match that success, most of the band quit, leaving the trio of Sarah Jane Owen, Lesley Shone, and Lesley Joyce. Remarketed as a low-rent version of Bananarama, they hit the US club chart at #2 for two weeks with "World Domination" in 1986.

Three years later, the Belle Stars' version of "Iko Iko" got a place on Dustin Hoffman's Rain Man movie soundtrack, opening the movie, and bringing the song to a whole new audience. It was released as a single in the U.S., sporting a video with only original lead singer Jennie Matthias in it...


The Belle Stars' "Iko Iko" became their sole top-40 pop hit in the U.S. in May of 1989. The 12" extended version also went to #7 on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play chart. Even though this was a success it didn't cause the reunion of the band, and that was the last we heard from the "Stars".

(Click below to see the rest of the post)


Here's the extended remix that went top ten on the dance chart that year...


Other artists have also had success with the song. In 1972, New Orleans musical treasure Dr. John had a minor pop hit with her take on the track at #71...


At the same time of the Belle Stars' original release of "Iko Iko", Scottish pop singer Natasha also released a cover, which ended up being much more successful at the time at #10 on the UK chart...


Cyndi Lauper included "Iko Iko" in her 1986 True Colors album...


The Grateful Dead often performed "Iko Iko" in concert...


In 2001, the German eurodance group Captain Jack released a version of the song that went to #22 in Germany, #16 in Austria, and #62 in Switzerland...


Finally, here's a live performance from the original Belle Stars from 1983...


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