Love In The First Degree

Album: WOW! (1987)
Charted: 3 48

Songfacts®:

  • In this upbeat dance-pop hit, Bananarama is on trial, and the charge is love in the first degree. The group's previous three albums were helmed by the production/songwriting duo Jolley & Swain, but when Bananarama heard the Dead Alive chart-topper "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)," they sought out the up-and-coming production trio Stock, Aitken and Waterman for their cover of the 1969 Shocking Blue song "Venus." The result was an international hit for Bananarama, who invited the producers to work on their fourth album, WOW!
  • The girls' transition into full-on glossy pop was too much for group member Siobhan Fahey, who preferred the edgier side of their repertoire, such as "King Of The Jungle" and "Robert De Niro's Waiting." Fahey, who composed the tune, was also upset over the production trio's control over lyrical content. She told BBC News in 2017: "They had a very much production-line approach. I felt there wasn't much room for musical experimentation with them, because they had their sound, and that was frustrating for me."

    By the time the single was released in the US, Fahey had quit the group.
  • Pete Waterman often calls this his favorite song from the SAW catalog, but Bananarama, who co-wrote all their original songs, took issue with Waterman's claims on the songwriting. "We'd argue about things he'd said in the press," group member Sara Dallin recalled. "Like 'I was lying in the bath and I thought, 'Love In The First Degree,' and it's like, you weren't even there. (Laughs) His stories were so hysterical. I've always had a huge soft spot for Pete, just because he was such a massive music fan. And as much as he was never fully involved with the writing side, he'd always pop his head round the door with that one great idea to make the track amazing."
  • The producers cite the Motown sound of the early '60s as a major influence on their work, so it was a proud moment for Pete Waterman when Motown founder Berry Gordy praised the song. He recalled in a 2012 interview: "I'll always remember when [Gordy] was on Radio 1 and said, 'I listened to a song called 'Love in the First Degree' by a guy called Pete Waterman - he's the only guy that I would have put one of his records out' - and that's good enough for me.'"
  • Sara Dallin sang lead and played bass guitar on the track.
  • Inspired by the Elvis Presley movie Jailhouse Rock, the music video finds the girls performing in a jail cell surrounded by male dancers.
  • Just before Fahey's departure, the trio sang this at the 1988 Brit Awards, where the song was nominated for Best British Single. It lost to another SAW creation: "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley.

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