My favourite albums of the 90s
9. "Grrr!" by Betty Boo (1992)
From the sublime to the sublimely ridiculous. In case you hadn’t realised, I should point out that this list is not meant to be the definitive list of the most important albums of the 90s, just my favourites of the decade.
Betty Boo was the original Spice Girl. She invented Girl Power. I imagine Simon Fuller listened to “Grrr!” and came up with the idea of a group of girls who, like, are really good friends who look out for each other. On “Skin Tight”, Betty says: “Never wait for my girls, they’re never late. Reliable, desirable, we’re all good mates. There’s no place for girls off their face, to get with us you must have our tastes.” Which is just another way of saying “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends.” The CD booklet shows Betty dressed in a range of outfits: posh in little black number, scary in tiger print, sporty in track suit, babyish cuddling a teddy. But definitely no ginger.
Opening track “I’m On My Way” fabulously incorporates the Beatles’ “Lady Madonna”, resulting in an unlikely writing credit: "Written by Boo/Coxon/Lennon/McCartney". No matter how foul a mood you may be in, one listen to “Thing Goin’ On” will have you grinning from ear to ear, containing as it does, the silliest noise known to man - the decoy duck call. “Catch Me” is identikit Pet Shop Boys - and catchy as hell, while “I Wish You Were Here” bubbles away what sounds like a swamp chorus of synthesised tree frogs. The standout track for me is "Skin Tight" - ska on steroids - a 140bpm stomper that will have you dancing round in your undies. Or maybe that's just me.
Betty Boo - Alison Clarkson to her mum - was 18 when "Grrr!" was released, and her raps concern themselves with the obsessions of teenaged girls - clothes, friends, hair, and boys. They are childish, silly and great fun - "Yummy yummy, my tummy goes all funny". Like all teenagers, Betty knows what's right: "Yes it is a must for us you take no drugs, no nicotine fiends cos your grave is dug, ashes to ashes and dust to dust”.
Betty's career came to a dismal end when it was revealed she was miming as she dropped the mike at a "live" performance. Nowadays she writes songs for Girl Thing and Louise. Oh, and Hear'Say. Yes, "Pure And Simple" was co-written by Betty Boo.