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The 3 rivers of Babylon...

Boney M is a group of Caribbean origin created in 1976 by German producer-singer-songwriter Frank Farian, real name Franz Reuther. Group originally composed of Jamaican singers Liz Mitchell and Marcia Barrett, Maizie Williams from Montserrat Island and Boby Farrell from Aruba Island.

The band name Boney M would actually be inspired by the Australian Boney series from the early 1970s. The "M" would just have been added after "Boney" because it sounded good to Farian's ears.

It’s Farian himself who will sing on the first song of the group "Baby do you wanna bump" which will be released in 1975. It’s him who will sing on all the other songs. Bobby Farrell will only serve as liners for music videos and shows. The title has achieved some success, especially in the Netherlands. And that's how Farina decides to hire a "troupe" to promote records, especially on television.

The first album "Take the heat of me" was released in 1976. Only Liz Mitchell and Marcia Barrett participated in the vocal recording of the disc with Farian. The other 2, Williams and Farrell, being considered too bad, vocally speaking.

The beginnings are rather laborious and the group is satisfied to turn in the discotheques. It’s thanks to TV producer Michael Leckebush that it all picks up when he invites them to appear on his Musikladen TV show. It is September 18, 1976. The group, in stage costumes, performs "Daddy cool". The spectators are totally stuck and the title becomes a real phenomenon in Germany. Then very quickly becomes a real planetary phenomenon. The notoriety of the group literally explodes.

In the aftermath, “Sunny” (a cover of Bobby Hebb's title dating back to 1966), a new title that will experience almost the same level of phenomenal success as its predecessor. The band then became one of the biggest phenomena of the moment and album sales exploded overnight.

A year later in 1977 released the album "Love for sale", album which will do even stronger than its predecessor. The sales scores are mind-blowing, in particular thanks to the flagship title “Ma baker”, a title which will be almost N° 1 everywhere in the world. And to a lesser extent the title “Belfast” which will however record impressive sales scores.

But it is the year 1978 which will remain as their best vintage with the album "Nightflight to Venus", album of all records and from which will be extracted 3 gigantic hits that are "Rivers of Babylon", "Rasputin" and "Mary's boy child - Oh my lord ”. Boneymania is global and the group reigns almost without sharing on all Dancefloor. So much so that the group will even have their pass to tour the former Soviet Union, an exceptional thing for the time.

1979 saw the release of the single “Hooray ! Hoorya ! It’s a holi-holiday” which also prances at the top of the Charts, although its level of success does not compare to titles released the previous year. The album "Oceans of fantasy" was immediately released, which despite its level of success almost equivalent to the others, marks a first deceleration of the group compared to the two previous years. Album from which the main track "Gotta go home" will be extracted. Notorious success but well below the level of the previous ones.

The transition to the 80s will prove to be more complicated to manage than expected. The Boney M phenomenon is starting to wane and the competition is getting tougher.

This does not prevent them from recording new impressive sales scores on the compilation "The magic of Boney M - 20 golden hits" which was released in 1980. The biggest title of which will be the unreleased "I see a boat on the river". Another single, “Children of paradise”, outside of an album, was also released the same year and was very successful.

The year 1981 saw the release of the album "Boonoonoonoos", album of the rupture. First by declining sales scores and especially by the dismissal of Bobby Farrell deemed more reliable enough. A dismissal that will deprive the group of any new stage performance, hence the mediocre sales scores.

Reggie Tsiboe replaced Farrell from 1982 but the copy is not worth the original. And even though Farrell didn't actually sing, his stage performances were a big part of the success of any new song. Suddenly, all the titles that will come out in 1982 and 1983 will only experience fairly limited sales scores, slowly but surely relegating the group to oblivion.

The album "Ten Thousand Lightyears" which came out in 1984 was only going to perform in Germany and would not produce any famous hits. On the other hand, the compilation “Kalimba de luna - 16 happy songs”, which came out the same year, will produce their last major hit “Kalimba de luna”. Which is in truth a luxury award winning Tony Esposito title. And to a lesser extent, "Happy Song", a new luxury cover of the Baby’s Gang title, will also be quite successful. Farrell takes the opportunity to return to the group.

A last album "Eye dance" was going to be released in 1985 but Farian's level of inspiration, as well as his level of involvement, were at an all-time low, the result was irrefutable : dismal failure. Thus permanently sealing the end of the group. And the single "Young, free and single" which will be released the same year will not change that.

Either way, Bony M will forever remain one of the major groups of the late 20th century, not necessarily for the musical quality of their tracks but above all for their almost unmatched ability to make people dance. And that, few groups can say the same !

To discover or rediscover.

Discography (among others ...) :

  • Baby do you wanna bump 1975

  • Daddy cool 1976

  • Sunny 1976

  • Ma Baker 1977

  • Belfast 1977

  • Rivers of Babylon 1978

  • Rasputin 1978

  • Mary’s boy child – Oh my Lord 1978

  • Painter man 1979

  • Hooray ! Hooray ! It’s a holi-holiday 1979

  • Gotta go home 1979

  • I’m born again 1979

  • I see a boat on the river 1980

  • Children of paradise 1980

  • Felicidad 1980

  • Malaika 1981

  • We kill the world 1981

  • Going back west 1982

  • Jambo – Hakuna Matata (no problems) 1983

  • Kalimba de luna 1984

  • Happy song 1984

  • Young, free and single 1985


Clips :

1975 ... here comes what will become one of the biggest dance phenomena of all time. But at this point, no one knows yet. Not even them ...

1976 ... the Dream Team ! 3 charming singers to ensure the vocal part, 1 crazy real-false singer to put on the show, a perfect alchemy that will do wonders. Starting with this awesome title. CULT !

1976 ... it's now a flood of incredible Dance hits that will descend on the world and set fire to all the Dancefloor on the planet for 10 years

1977 ... we take the same ones and start over. Nothing and nobody will be able to stop this Boneymania which literally overwhelms the whole world. A-MA-ZING !

1977 ... the 'little' mega hit of the year. But it is for a better start the following year with this time no longer 2 intergalactic hits, but 3 !

1978 ... their 'Mona Lisa'. The mega hit of the mega hits ! Here they are quite simply the biggest hit of all their discography and surely one of the biggest Dance hits of all time !

1978 ... they do it again directly with this title with a completely surrealist theme where Farrell gives himself completely in the totally crazy side

1978 ... exceptionally, here they are in Intimist mode on a title all in finesse and softness. A title or Farrell this time looks very force of circumstances

1979 ... you know what ? Well, we take the same ones and we start over. Ah, I already told you ... Well, on the other hand, this time, we restart calmly. Always also Dance but the title will meet only a success that we will qualify as medium ...

1979 ... conversely, this allows the group to instantly regain its place as the undisputed leader of the planetary dancefloor. We knew that the slack was not going to last !

1979 ... still one of the most emblematic titles. A very special inspiration dedicated only to Dance and which produces incredible hit on incredible hit

1979 ... it is always very astonishing to see them in Intimist mode. A mode completely out of step with what made their fortune and their glory. And it works too !

1980 ... the change of decade will prove to be more complicated to manage than expected. Fashions, tastes, just like mentalities are changing and the group will have trouble keeping up ...

1980 ... they still line up hit after hit but they no longer play in the Champions League. A demotion that will be almost irreversible ...

1980 ... the last hit of the year. The group clings, resists and stays afloat. But for how much longer ...

1981 ... the decline is underway, it is inevitable. But what the group offers is always nice and we are largely satisfied ...

1981 ... a completely separate title, totally out of step with their usual style. When the group embarks on humanitarian work, the result is...confusing !

1982 ... the more it goes, the less it goes. The top of the Charts disappears more and more from the horizon. The group is only a shadow of himself ...

1983 ... we even border on caricature. The group is more out of step with its time and its style is really starting to look outdated ...

1984 ... then arrives this title, the title of the last chance which allows them to recover temporarily and in a brilliant way to the leading pack. But it's not going to last ...

1984 ... in a style much more in line with the new dance standards of the time. Unfortunately, it is already too late for the group ...

1985 ... the last hit of an absolutely exceptional adventure which will have left in the musical history of the XXth century a multitude of anthology Dance titles. What a feat !

Top Bonus : Kalimba de luna, the original. We see that the Boney M version is copied to perfection


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