Album Reviews

Betty Boo: Grrr! It’s Betty Boo (Deluxe Edition) (Cherry Pop)

bettyboo

Betty Boo
Grrr! It’s Betty Boo (Deluxe Edition)
Cherry Pop

Boomania! Remember it? No?  That’s a shame, but not surprising, as it came and went quite quickly. It wasn’t for lack of talent, either; Alison Clarkson, better known as the alluring Betty Boo, became quite successful for her superior vocals, dance grooves, and strikingly beautiful appearance, punctuated by some fun, sexy music videos. Her debut album, Boomania, was a wonderful splash of fun dance pop that was far removed from the blandness of late eighties pop music. That it was a smash hit in Europe made it even sweeter—here was something new, yet something so alluringly traditional about it all.

Grrr! It’s Betty Boo would appear in 1992, and proved to be much more mature a pop record than her debut, and its first song would up the ante. “I’m On My Way” is a rollicking dance number with a jazz horn section that in the fadeout turns into “Lady Madonna.” It’s amusing to hear The Beatles in this context, until you realize that the horns are the actual horn section on the original version, led by Ronnie Scott. The next track, “Thing Goin’ On,” was the big single in America; with its jazzy backing, the pulsing organ, and her rap, the song quickly became popular more in the alternative rock radio format than the pop and R&B charts. Her quirky style played nicely aside the more popular Deee-Lite, who were making waves in alternative pop circles.

The rest of Grrr! It’s Betty Boo is similarly upbeat; from the catchy “Wish You Were Here” and “Gave YouThe Boo,” it’s hard not to have a dance party every time you listened. Even the slower numbers, “Hangover” and “Wish You Were Here” have a rhythmic charm that will keep your toes tappin’.  Speaking of toe tapping, this reissue is loaded with twenty remixes, and though there’s a definite bit of repetition in the song selection, it’s obvious that Betty Boo was making waves in the dance circles; you’ll hear more generic remixes next to mixers who were predicting and predating the techno and house trends soon to come, as well as hints of drum & bass. The album had gained her a devoted audience, and greater success seemed assured.

Unfortunately, things, didn’t work out that way, and there would be no more Betty boo. The album’s success was marred by Clarkson’s mother being diagnosed with cancer, and she stepped away from Betty Boo to take care of her. She stepped away from a lot—including a record deal with Madonna’s nascent label Maverick—and depression and insecurities would silence her, but after a few years, she returned as a songwriter, and works in the industry to this day, making the occasional guest vocalist appearance and performing live sporadically through the years.

At the time, thanks to her catty vocals and leopard-skin body suits, Clarkson seemed poised to be the Gen-X Eartha Kitt, but sadly, that wouldn’t come to pass, and while it’s a shame that Grrr! It’s Betty Boo would prove to be her final full length album, its quality and sheer delightfulness holds up remarkably well twenty-four years later, a futuristic jazzy pop/rap album that still sounds fresh and ahead of its time.

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