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Ripe Review

by William Cooper

The 1991 debut release by the British duo Banderas has a rather misleading cover image, that of two oddly-dressed women sporting Sinead O'Connor-style crew cuts with the band's Spanish-sounding name sprawled across the top of the picture. Perhaps Ripe's failure was due to consumer confusion; is Banderas a Spanish-language punk band, or a bizarre Sinead side project? One listen to the album, however, reveals neither is true. Banderas is actually an ace pop band, and its one and only album, Ripe, is addictive ear candy. The two members (vocalist Caroline Buckley and violinist/keyboardist Sally Herbert) receive ample assistance from producer extraordinaire Stephen Hague, but the album's real star is Buckley, who sings with confidence and clarity. Her voice soars on the funky, beautifully produced album opener "This Is Your Life" and the eerie "May This Be Your Last Sorrow." While Ripe's remanding eight tunes don't quite scale the same heights, Caroline Buckley's extraordinary pipes save the material from sinking into mediocrity. A few lackluster songs drag down the album, but this was a promising debut, and Banderas boasted an incredible vocalist in Caroline Buckley. But even with guest appearances from some of the biggest names in British pop (including Jimmy Somerville, guitarist Johnny Marr, and New Order's Bernard Sumner), the album didn't perform well in Europe and sank like a stone in the States, and they never released a second album. Ripe will almost certainly never be widely heard, and Banderas is forever shunned into pop obscurity. It's a shame this talented act never saw the success it deserved.

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