Betty Boo

Alison Clarkson, whose Nan had once had Sean Connery as a milkman, began her musical career at school, in a band called the She Rockers. She was nicknamed Betty Boop, due to her resemblance to the cartoon character, but lawyers intervened and so she had to shorten it to "Betty Boo" for her debut guest spot on the Beatmasters 1989 single "Hey DJ I Can't Dance (To That Music You're Playing)" (they had a few back in the day). Like Yazz before her, the Beatmasters stint was swiftly followed by her debut proper "Doin' the Do".

"Doin' the Do" was a fine single, and made the Top 10 - at the time, Clarkson's hybrid pop/rap was highly unusual (today it would be reminiscent of Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopez short-lived solo career, as well as similar cartoon-pop from Aqua and Cartoons). The rap was witty and funny, and the pop choruses lent the music a bright, colourful appeal. Second single "Where Are You Baby?" was even better, being slightly less aggressive and even more catchy. The album "Boomania" went platinum and Clarkson won a Brit Award in 1990 (shouting "Long Live Des O'Connor!" in her acceptance speech). The future looked very Boo-shaped indeed.

In 1991 Clarkson signed to Warner/Sire and embarked on a tour - but the jaunt was cancelled when she was caught lip-syncing to tapes (it being perfectly acceptable for most pop stars to mime... until they are actually shown up doing so by means of a sticking backing tape or the like).

What happened next seems open to some debate. Clarkson tells a somewhat tragic story of how she signed to Madonna's label but effectively chose to give up her "big chance" to be with her Mother, who was ill. However, chart positions had already slipped by this point, the "I'm On My Way" single only making #44 and the "Gggr... It's Betty Boo" album failing to muster the interest that it's predecessor did. It seems likely with hindsight that the concept of Betty Boo had more or less had it's day by the mid-nineties.

Rummage like a beast on Ebay and Amazon, and all things can be yours for under a fiver. Shimmy into a record shop on March 6 and she may well be nestled among the new releases. Not literally of course.

In recent years, Clarkson has remained working in the music industry, but taken less of a front seat. She performed backing vocals on various tracks in the late nineties, and then wrote "Pure and Simple" for Hearsay, the fastest selling number one single ever (though one has to admit it's popularity was more down to it being used to push the first, frenzied attempt at manufacturing a band via a TV talent show than the quality of the song, which is now greeted with revulsion more than respect). And let us not forget that she also later wrote for Girl Thing and The Tweenies. A Best Of emerged in 2001, despite the limited available material.

Better still is the possible resurrection of Betty Boo in 2006. Her new band Wigwam have appeared on the release schedules with a single of the same name. Clarkson and, bizzarly, Alex James of Blur are behind the project.