Going For A Song: ‘Eternal Flame’

The Bangles – Eternal Flame

There are moments in his book Yeah Yeah Yeah where Bob Stanley makes an assertion so curious I’m compelled to track down the music to see if he’s right. This I did when he claimed the Bangles as ‘one of the best girl groups of the decade [the 80s]’. Listening to ‘Eternal Flame’ he has a point. If part of his point is (and I think it is) being able to detect traces of the girl groups of the sixties in the Bangles’ DNA. ‘Eternal Flame’ is as dramatic and impassioned as such songs as ‘Remember (Walkin’ in the Sand)’ by The Shangri-Las or ‘Baby, I Love You’ by The Ronettes. And sound wise, though the production of those early 60s records is replaced by music box drum machine (a good thing – nullifying any ballad pretensions that ‘Eternal Flame’ might have had), you can hear in the timpani and reverb snare a nod to those first girl groups. It all becomes even more apparent if you watch the video to the song – the beginning’s slow fade and dissolve of each band member ratcheting up the drama. But if the singling out of Susannah Hoffs as lead singer in this video makes you hanker for the more democratic earlier days of the Bangles, watch the video to the woozy ‘Going Down to Liverpool’ (‘[one] of the greatest singles of the eighties’ – Stanley), featuring none other than, and why not, Leonard Nimoy.

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