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Digital Subscriptions > Classic Pop > July 2019 > SISTER ACT 2

SISTER ACT 2

RETURNING AFTER 26 YEARS, THE REUNION OF SHAKESPEARS SISTER IS IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO CHEER: THE STORY OF HOW SIOBHAN FAHEY AND MARCELLA DETROIT BECAME BITTER ENEMIES BY ACCIDENT AND WERE UNABLE TO FIND THE WAY BACK FOR SO, SO LONG. WHAT HAPPENED? THE PAIR EXPLAIN HOW AN UNINTENDED MEGA HIT, JUMPING THE FENCE AT GLASTONBURY, YOGA, THE KGB AND FRUSTRATIONS WITH BANANARAMA HELPED PAVE THE WAY FOR A BRILLIANT NEW CHAPTER.
Marcella Detroit and Siobhan Fahey, back together after a quarter of a century

It’s been a minute, hasn’t it? We’re back from the last century!”

Marcella Detroit greets Classic Pop, as she and Siobhan Fahey get comfortable on their manager’s sofa. It’s a warm welcome, and Siobhan laughs along before she suddenly stops and looks horrified. “Actually, it was the last century,” she exclaims, appalled. “Oh my God!”

The decades it’s taken for Shakespears Sister to speak to each other again is sadder for the people involved than it is for fans. Sure, we’d have liked more audacious pop from Siobhan and Marcella to join Stay, You’re History and Goodbye Cruel World. But what about when a friendship has been broken and you feel too emotionally fragile to face mending it? What if they still hate you, or you fear losing control at explaining the resentment that’s been in your head all this time? Some things really are more important than pop music.

You know by now Shakespears Sister’s story has a happy ending. It’s clear from the hilarious self-mocking video of storming comeback single All The Queen’s Horses that Marcella and Siobhan are able to laugh at their split. The road to their new beginning, however, really is one that needed 26 years to build. “Before I sat down with Marcy, I spent a couple of years rehearsing what that conversation would be like,” explains Siobhan. “I didn’t want it to be a confrontation, I wanted it to be a resolution. I had to manage my approach. From my family background – and more generally in our culture – we’re not really trained in those kind of conversations at all. Any area of grievance is perceived as an attack, and it explodes into a horrible situation.”

Aretha, Etta & Shakespear

Marcella Detroit’s favourite session while a backing singer came in 1981, working on Aretha Franklin’s duet with George Benson, Love All The Hurt Away. Marcella already slightly knew the Queen Of Soul, as her younger sister had been to school with Aretha’s son. Working with the star was another matter, though. “I’d grown up listening to Aretha,” Marcella says. “I’d walk to school listening to her and Stevie Wonder on my transistor radio. When I did my vocals and she came at the end of the session to listen, it was just a dream.” Siobhan’s heroine was Etta James, who Dave Stewart produced in 1989. “Dave knew I idolised Etta, and I think that might be why he contacted her,” Siobhan recalls. “I was lying under the mixing desk, listening to Etta sing. She said, ‘I need some harmonies,’ so Dave went, ‘Hey, Siobhan!’ I thought, ‘Oh, shit!’ but I couldn’t say no. For the first verse, I was transported, totally in heaven. But then the reality of what was happening sunk in. I was also high on very strong weed, which didn’t help. The paranoia kicked in. But, hey, I was singing harmonies to Etta James around the same microphone. Amazing! It was only a demo, but I had a cassette of it for years. It’s gone now, which is such a shame.”

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About Classic Pop

This month, we have the definitive interview with the returning Shakespears Sister – back after a split that lasted more than 25 years. We also meet Lloyd Cole to talk about his stunning electronic-flavoured new album Guesswork and catch up with the iconic Betty Boo who looks back on her career as a UK hip-hop trailblazer. Our Classic Album this issue is Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ambitious debut Welcome To The Pleasuredome and we take a deep dive into the studio work of Belinda Carlisle for our Album by Album feature. We talk to Steve Barron, the director who shaped the 80s pop video landscape, and also hear from China Crisis’ Gary Daly as he unveils his first-ever solo album. Read our verdict on Madonna’s Madame X alongside new live LPs from Soft Cell and New Order plus much more in our new albums pages. Our packed reissues and compilation section features Kylie Minogue, Janet Jackson, Joy Division, Shakespears Sister and more. On the live reviews front, we check out shows including Take That, Howard Jones, Marc Almond and the Manic Street Preachers. Enjoy the issue!