Ah, the summer of 1989. A Guy Called Gerald, The Stone Roses, The Lightning Seeds, Lil’ Louis, the Walker’s Crisps advert with ‘Tank’… but of course there never was a ‘golden age’ (apart from the BBC in 1986) and right throughout what Danny Wilson bandwagon-jumpingly dubbed the ‘Second Summer Of Love’ (and we’ll be hearing more about that within these pages soon enough), this genuine monstrosity sat atop the charts and astride the airwaves.
The kindest thing anyone could possibly find to say about the entire Jive Bunny concept is that it was a shrewd idea, and even then only in terms of maximised financial potential. In every other sense, it was the culmination of some of the very worst popular cultural phenomena of the eighties – the relentless rise of the ‘medley’, from the not-the-original-artists Beatle-heavy ’Stars On 45′ Euro efforts, through the actually quite technically impressive for the time Sixties Mix albums, right up to this virtual entire wedding disco condensed into four minutes; the furious adherence to a decade-out-of-date notion that nostalgia for the fifties was in any way a good or desirable thing; the sellinf of novelty records on the back of a shabby yet eyecatching video; and the wilful provision of cultural fodder for the likes of Tony Parsons to further their not entirely sense-making theories about how pop music was dead, it was only good in the past, but the fact that new pop music was simply regurgitating old pop music was a clear sign that new pop music was even more dead than we previously thought but old pop music was still best but being made equally dead by this reappropriation except it wasn’t, or something.
The Mastermixers, it transpired, were a bunch of faceless backroom boys at a music-by-the-yard stock music factory (and oh the irony that this was the exact same moment that boneheads like Wendy James were frowning most loudly about Stock Aitken & Waterman being a ‘conveyer belt!!’) who had put this rock’n'roll medley (‘medley’ being a generous term considering that it consisted of little more than the title of each song in rapid procession) together in the genuine hope of cornering the wedding disco market. Jive Bunny, on the other hand, was an animated figurehead seemingly drawn by a particular disinterested and unartistic member of the Why Don’t You…? gang during a feature on making your own comics, who smugly popped up in front of archive footage of fuck all to do a couple of hand jives; particularly punchable at 3:26, though you do have to grudgingly admire the ‘concerned’ look it registers when Elvis joins the army.
Depressingly, it worked. And oh how it worked – every successive single seemed destined to become a runaway smash, even the inexcusably lazy Let’s Party It’s Christmas (which, it should be noted, Pete Waterman described as something he would have been embarrassed to put his name to), and theoretically it could have gone on forever. Happily, their overexposure was to prove to be their undoing. The Mastermixers, or ‘Ian’ and ‘Ian’ to give them their full names, grew jealous of their leporine representative and wanted a slice of the fame action for themselves, first revealing their identities in an interview with Smash Hits where they told some ridiculously convoluted anecdote about how they arrived at the Jive Bunny name, then a couple of months later reviewing the singles for the same magazine during which they blasted the ‘faceless’ 808 State for Cobra Bora, a single that was actually recorded live in one take, progressing to appearances on TV shows in lieu of the rabbit-in-costume-form, and finally, by early 1991, reaching the stage where they appeared in the videos themselves, doing some comedy antics at a joke ‘sixties’ party that looked nothing like a ‘sixties’ party for the risible Over To You John (Here We Go Again). By then, mercifully, the joke had worn a bit thin, and people were dancing to Right Said Fred at wedding discos instead.