Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Nightflight to Venus and Take the Heat Off Me
by Boney M.

If you belonged to the disco generation of the 1970s and early 1980s, then you are definitely familiar with Boney M. and most of their popular songs, many of which had biblical overtones. And if you listened to Boney M. in your teens, then I am equally sure you must have listened to Abba too. They belonged to the same disco era though their songs were very different. Most kids of my generation were dedicated fans of Boney M. and Abba and many other music groups and singers of the time like Tina Charles, The Carpenters, BeeGees, Lipps Inc., and Donna Summer. 

We used to listen to these songs on a white-coloured cassette player of Polish make which my father had purchased for a princely sum of Rs.600 ($12). Some of my cousins and friends heard the songs on the more popular National Panasonic with its trademark blue key for Record. Others had Murphy tape recorders.

For a long time I thought Boney M. were an American pop band till I found out that the music group was created in 1975 by German record producer Frank Farian (Franz Reuther) and initially comprised Jamaican-born British singers Liz Mitchell, Marcia Barrett, Maizie Williams, and Bobby Farrell, its public face. As far as I can remember Farrell never sang a full song; instead, he lent his deep and infectious voice to many of the songs sung by the three women in the group. The often bare-chested Farrell died in 2010.

Back then, Brown Girl in the Ring was one of Boney M.'s most popular songs heard and sung at parties in India, although Ma Baker and Daddy Cool were some of their cheekiest numbers. Ma Baker threatened you with her catchy lines that went...

Put your hands on your head and give me all your money
She was the meanest cat
In old Chicago town
She was the meanest cat
She really mowed them down
She had no heart at all
No no no heart at all

Many of the European pop groups like Boney M. and the Swedish group Abba were more popular in Asia than in USA. I suspect not many Americans have heard their songs assuming, of course, that they have heard of the music bands.

I will leave you with two of my favourite Boney M. songs, Nightflight to Venus and Take the Heat Off Me, courtesy YouTube.


  1. You made me feel quite nostalgic. I used to think it was quite hip then, though I am not so fond of this now!!! it was considered so "in" at that time.

  2. Wow! That cassette tape recored brings back A LOT of memories. My brothers and I used our various tape recorders as a sort of radio studio and made all sorts of insane spoofs of TV shows, news & sports broadcasts, and plays. Good amateur training for me when I later became a radio scriptwriter in college.

    I remember Boney M as a German group since I first learned of them when I was an exchange student in that country back in the 70s. Never knew that the singers were from Jamiaca, but their reggae sound should''ve been a tip off. I have only ever heard "By the Rivers of Babylon" a cover of an old spiritual done in their odd reggae/disco blend. ABBA, BTW, was a huge success in the US! HUGE! But Boney M never got any airplay on US radio stations. Also, I don't recall ever hearing their music in dance clubs that I frequented when I was a night club boy in my 20s.

  3. This dates me. I was packing up for my first sabbatical leave in the 1970s when the BeeGees were never out of the top 10 here in the US. I still find their songs infectious.

  4. I don't recall ever hearing of Boney M., but I grew up in the middle of the U.S. and we were very much aware of Abba. I remember getting a double album of Abba's Greatest Hits for Easter one year and playing that over and over on the record player for years. I am still very fond of Abba, as is my wife, and every once in a while we'll get nostalgic and will pull up their music online and listen to it. Good stuff.

  5. I love ABBA songs. I don't think I discovered them during the heyday of disco, but maybe in the 90's. I have many CDs by ABBA; I should play them more. Boney M I have not heard of. Sounds good, though.

  6. I will confess to liking "Love to Love you, baby" by Donna Summer. Other than that, I'm good. :)

  7. I am surprised that many have not heard of Boney M! There was a time in India when all you would hear were By The Rivers of Babylon, and Daddy Cool.

    That old cassette player brought back so many memories, Prashant. I had kind of forgotten about them but they were such an integral part of growing up.