Shakespears Sister ‘Hormonally Yours’ reviewed

A slightly odd reissue of an otherwise brilliant sophomore album.

Shakespears Sister: Hormonally Yours (London Records)

As one of the iconic acts of the late 80s and early 90s, Shakespears Sister – comprising Siobhan Fahey and Marcella Detroit – left an indelible mark on pop music with their two albums ‘Sacred Heart’ and ‘Hormonally Yours’. Their recent revival (let’s ignore ‘Songs from the Red Room’ as it was essentially a solo project) has spawned new material, a tour and expanded reissues of their two early albums in 2020.

All of which does rather beg the question… why do we need another version of ‘Hormonally Yours’ barely two years later? And it’s a good question. The previous 2020 edition was a two CD affair featuring many bonus tracks including alternative or single versions, remixes and demos that made it a no-brainer to buy. This 30th Anniversary reissue, however, is cut to one CD, losing much of what made the previous one so compelling.

Shakespears Sister – Hormonally Yours – 2CD Digibook

Obviously, the main album is intact, including probably their most famous track Stay, which definitely needs no introduction – and if it does I’m sure my editor will put a YouTube link in below to enlighten the uneducated (he sure has – Ed). My 16th Apology is still a dreamily orchestrated delight, and I Don’t Care remains a brilliantly defiant anthem. The album-closer is the majestic Hello (Turn Your Radio On) which has always been a haunting highlight which sounds as good as ever and could turn up in any modern-day TV series soundtrack you could name (hello ‘Heartstopper’, I’m looking at you).

All in all, ‘Hormonally Yours’ is still the shimmering slice of dark-pop perfection it’s always been. Having it in your collection is never a bad thing.

So, what’s missing? Well, all of the second CD for starters, all fifteen tracks of it, which is a major shame. But some of the bonus tracks from the first CD on the 2020 reissue have also vanished. The 7” versions of the major singles are gone, as is the I Don’t Care B-Side Remember my Name.

That said, two of the previously included demos such as the wonderfully quirky Cat Worship, and the dark nightlife-evoking Out to Groove are still in place. There is also a new track to enjoy: a demo of a song called The End. Both Out to Groove and The End are bright and poppy but have a lyrically dark undertow which fits perfectly with the main album.

To be honest, on the whole it feels a bit of a bodged track list from the CD perspective. But there is a saving grace: the second disc is a DVD which is definitely the main reason to purchase this edition. Firstly, it includes remastered versions of the promo videos for Goodbye Cruel World, Stay, I Don’t Care, My 16th Apology, and Hello (Turn Your Radio On). And Goodbye Cruel World is particularly worth it for Fahey giving it her best Norma Desmond impression. All of these promos were, incidentally, directed by the legendary Sophie Muller, which – let’s face it – is always an indicator of quality.

Now, to be honest, I had no idea the last two tracks had even been released as singles. It turns out, though, that Hello in particular performed incredibly poorly in the charts, but given Fahey and Detroit were no longer on speaking terms at that point and as a result did no promotion, that’s hardly surprising.

Also included on the DVD there’s also a remastered live version of Catwoman, but also more recent footage of the relevant tracks from the last night of their 2019 tour in Brighton. Perhaps more excitingly there’s also video showing behind the scenes footage of the making of ‘Hormonally Yours’, making this DVD a major draw for Shakespears Sister fans.

The reissue formats are also impressive compared to the 2020 issue, the CDs of which came in a rather flimsy cardboard gatefold affair. This time both discs are housed in a much more rigid book format. There are also two different vinyl versions – one white, and the other which is sort of a black and white shattered effect.

Both CD and vinyl editions come in a choice of standard or mirrored sleeves, and each of those options also comes with the choice of having it housed in a sequinned catsuit bag reminiscent of the outfits they wore during this era. The permutations are seemingly endless. And all of them also come with a signed print. If that wasn’t enough some packages even come with tee-shirts, so the marketing team have definitely covered all the bases there.

Shakespears Sister – Hormonally Yours – CD Boxset

Disappointingly the really deluxe CD boxset edition is no longer available from the Shakespears Sister store. This is/was a seven CD set containing not just the first CD, but also a CD dedicated to each single, in many cases mopping up the missing bonus tracks from 2020 and adding many more. If you weren’t in time to pre-order, I think your luck is out. Presumably, though, for the dedicated collector there will be plenty of e-Bay scalpers out there to help fill out your collection in due course. I for one will totally be keeping my eyes out come release date…

Ultimately the 30th Anniversary reissue isn’t as pointless as it appears. Yes, it’s missing a chunk of its predecessor’s tracks, but it brings a lot of new material to the table and is certainly better packaged. And to be honest, having two editions side by side on your shelf is no great hardship really.

If, however, in 2024 there’s a two CD plus DVD version issued I may have to get Botox. Because if I don’t my right eyebrow will probably rise so far it’ll actually leave my face.

Shakespears Sister: ‘Hormonally Yours – 30th Anniversary Edition’ released 30 September on London Records. CLICK HERE to Pre-Order 30th Anniversary editions of ‘Hormonally Yours’.

❉ Rob Morris is a regular contributor to We Are Cult. He is also the writer of several audio dramas for Big Finish Productions and What Noise Productions, and was one of the contributors to the bestseller 1001 TV Series You Must Watch Before You Die.

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