T'ain't What You Do (It's the Way That You Do It)

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"T'ain't What You Do (It's the Way That You Do It)" is a song written by jazz musicians Melvin "Sy" Oliver and James "Trummy" Young. It was first recorded in 1939 by Jimmie Lunceford, Harry James, and Ella Fitzgerald.[1] The "shim sham" is often danced to the Lunceford recording of this song.

Fun Boy Three with Bananarama version[edit]

"It Ain't What You Do...."
Single by Fun Boy Three with Bananarama
from the album Fun Boy Three
B-side "The Funrama Theme"
Released February 1982
Format 7" single, 12" single
Recorded 1981
Genre Pop
Length 2:48
Label Chrysalis Records
Writer(s) Sy Oliver
Trummy Young
Producer(s) Dave Jordan, Fun Boy Three
Fun Boy Three singles chronology
"The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum)"
"It Ain't What You Do...."
"Really Saying Something"
Bananarama singles chronology
"Aie a Mwana"
"It Ain't What You Do...."
"Really Saying Something"

The jazz tune was transformed into a pop song with ska elements in 1982. With the title slightly altered to "It Ain't What You Do....", it was recorded by The Fun Boy Three and Bananarama, and was included on the former's self-titled debut album, but it was not available on a Bananarama album until 1988's Greatest Hits Collection.

Terry Hall of Fun Boy Three owned a copy of Bananarama's previous single "Aie a Mwana", and after seeing an article about the trio in The Face he decided he wanted them to sing background vocals on the song, solely based on the fact that he liked their look. "It Ain't What You Do...." became a big hit in the UK, climbing to number four in the UK singles chart. The success of the single also prompted Bananarama to return the favour and have Fun Boy Three sing on their next single, "Really Saying Something".

In 2012 the cover version was used in a commercial for Hewlett-Packard's color printers, which aired in the United States.

Track listings[edit]

7" single
  1. "It Ain't What You Do (It's The Way That You Do It)" 2:54
  2. "The Funrama Theme" 2:56 +
12" single
  1. "It Ain't What You Do..." / "Just Do It" (Extended Version) 5:55 ++
  2. "The Funrama Theme" (Extended Version) 5:55 +

+ an alternative mix, titled "Funrama 2", appears on the Fun Boy Three album Fun Boy Three

++ available as two separate tracks on the Fun Boy Three album Fun Boy Three


Chart (1982) Peak
UK Singles Chart 4
Australia (Kent Music Report)[2] 55
Dutch Singles chart 3
New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart 37
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play 49


  1. ^ Ella Fitzgerald Discography - Discography - Part 1
  2. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (Illustrated ed.). Sydney: Australian Chart Book. p. 25. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.  N.B. The Kent Report chart was licensed by ARIA between 1983 and 26 June 1988.