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BELLE STARS (Buy CDs by this artist)
The Belle Stars (Stiff/Warner Bros.) 1983

Offering a self-contained, funkier alternative to early Bananarama, London's seven-woman Belle Stars played and sang neo-soul and dance-rock. At their most glamorous (the excellent "Sign of the Times") they resemble that era's ABC, but with added spunk and less chrome. Much of the material on the album is, however, much plainer. Far more enjoyable than the band's originals are covers of "Mockingbird," "Needle in a Haystack," "The Clapping Song" and "Iko Iko" (a huge hit when recycled on the soundtrack of 1988's Rain Man) which provoke a good time largely through the band's own evident enjoyment.

[Ira Robbins]