Siouxsie and The Banshees

Siouxsie and the Banshees were an English rock band that released eleven studio albums and twenty-seven singles between 1978 and 1995 on Polydor. They charted with their debut single “Hong Kong Garden” and scored multiple UK hits, including the underground rock staples “Happy House,” “Spellbound,” “Arabian Knights,” “Cities In Dust,” “Peek-a-Boo,” and “Kiss Them for Me.”

The Banshees first performed in 1976 when singer Siouxsie Sioux and bassist Steve Havoc (later Severin) formed the band as a one-off for London’s first punk festival. Multiple members passed before the lineup stabilized in late 1977 with drummer Kenny Morris and guitarist John McKay. Their early setlist staples (“Carcass,” “Mirage,” “Metal Postcard (Mittageisen),” “Switch”) appear on their debut album The Scream. After their 1979 single “The Staircase (Mystery)” and second album Join Hands, Morris and McKay fled the group.

Sioux and Severin hired drummer Budgie for the 1980 single “Happy House,” an eerie neo-psych number recorded with guitarist John McGeoch (Magazine, Visage), who joined after the completion of the Banshees third album Kaleidoscope, which hears them embrace acoustic psych (“Christine”) and minimal synth (“Red Light”). The McGeoch lineup carried through the standalone single “Israel” and the 1981–82 albums Juju and A Kiss in the Dreamhouse, which honed their mix of ethereal dream-pop and psychedelic goth-rock on the singles “Spellbound,” “Arabian Knights,” “Slowdive,” and “Melt!”

In 1983, Siouxsie and the Banshees charted with the Beatles cover “Dear Prudence,” recorded with Cure guitarist Robert Smith, who stayed for the live double-album Nocturne and 1984 studio release Hyæna, which includes the hits “Swimming Horses” and “Dazzle.” Smith and Severin formed The Glove and released Blue Sunshine, a collection of quirky art pop. Meanwhile, Sioux and Budgie recorded as The Creatures.

In 1984, the Banshees hired guitarist John Carruthers (ex-Clock DVA) and recorded The Thorn, an EP of orchestral-rearranged Banshees chestnuts. They made stateside headway with “Cities In Dust,” one of two advance singles (along with “Candyman”) from their 1986 album Tinderbox. They tapped their musical roots on the 1987 release Through the Looking Glass, which includes Banshees covers of favorites by The Doors (“You’re Lost Little Girl”), Roxy Music (“See Breezes”), and hit interpretations of Julie Driscoll (“This Wheel’s On Fire”) and Iggy Pop (“The Passenger”). Carruthers left upon the album’s release.

In 1988, Siouxsie and the Banshees scored their biggest hit with “Peek-a-Boo,” a Mardi Gras-themed number from their ninth studio album Peepshow, recorded with multi-instrumentalist Martin McCarrick and guitarist Jon Klien (ex-Specimen). This lineup held through the 1991–95 albums Superstition and The Rapture. In 1992, the Banshees recorded “Face to Face” for the soundtrack to Batman Returns. They disbanded in 1996 but reunited for a 2002 tour.

Members: Siouxsie Sioux (vocals), Steven Severin (bass), Marco Pirroni (guitar, 1976), Sid Vicious (drums, 1976), Kenny Morris (drums, 1976-79), Peter Fenton (guitar, 1976-77), John McKay (guitar, 1977-79), Budgie (drums 1979-2002), Robert Smith (guitar, 1979, 1982-84), John McGeoch (guitar, 1979-82), John Carruthers (guitar, 1984-87), Martin McCarrick (keyboards, 1987-96), Jon Klein (guitar, 1987-95)


Background

Siouxsie and the Banshees were the brainchild of friends Siouxsie Sioux (aka Susan Janet Ballion) and Steve Havoc (aka Steven Bailey), who first met in September 1975 at a Roxy Music concert. They came to London’s music–fashion underground in search of a scene to supersede glam-rock. Three months later, their friend Simon Barker informed them of The Sex Pistols, a new band he caught live at Ravensbourne Art College. The three became fixtures at Pistols shows along with fellow clubgoers Sue Catwoman, Debbie Juvenile, and William Broad, who later adopted the name Billy Idol. Journalist Caroline Coon, who documented the nascent punk scene, dubbed this crowd the Bromley Contingent after the home turf of several of its members.

In September 1976, Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren organized a festival of new unsigned punk bands at London’s 100 Club. Since there weren’t enough qualifying acts to fill the two-night event, Sioux and Havoc assembled a band with guitarist Marco Pironni and Pistols superfan John Ritchie (aka Sid Vicious). With Havoc on bass and Ritchie on drums, the impromptu group dubbed itself Siouxsie and the Banshees and performed an improvised twenty-minute set based on the Lord’s Prayer.

Though intended as a one-off, Sioux and Havoc impressed multiple attendees, including drummer Kenny Morris and McLaren-associate Nils Stevenson, who offered to be their manager. In January 1977, the first official Banshees lineup initiated with Sioux, Havoc, Morris, and guitarist Pete Fenton. Havoc changed his stage-name to Severin as an ode to the character name-checked in the 1967 Velvet Underground song “Venus In Furs” (taken from the 1870 novella by Austrian author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch).

The following month, the Banshees played their first concert at Croydon’s Red Deer as an opening act for Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers. The Banshees’ twenty-minute set consisted of five songs: the originals “Psychic,” “Scrapheap,” “Captain Scarlet,” “Love In a Void,” and a cover of the T. Rex hit “20th Century Boy.” In June, they demoed the last three songs along with three new originals: “Carcass,” “Bad Shape,” and “Make Up to Break Up.” Soon after, Fenton cleared for self-taught guitarist John McKay, whose abrupt chordal accents underscored the band’s brash, fractious sound.

By the fall of 1977, the Banshees were one of the biggest unsigned draws on London’s punk/New Wave scene. In November, they performed on Show 8, Series 2 of ITV’s So It Goes (broadcast 11/27/77) and cut four-songs for DJ John Peel’s show on Radio One (aired 11/29/77). Included in this session are two live favorites from the period that would later appear on the Banshees’ first album: “Suburban Relapse” and the kinetic show-stopper “Metal Postcard.”


1978

During the spring of 1978, Banshees shows drew round-the-block queues as fans spray-painted “SIGN THE BANSHEES” in terminals across London. Despite this, the band got rejected by EMI, Decca, Arista, CBS, Chrysalis, and RCA. They finally found a sympathetic A&R in Chris Parry, who secured The Jam‘s deal with Polydor. The Banshees signed to the label in June 1978.

Siouxsie and the Banshees performed “Metal Postcard” and a newer number, “Jigsaw Feeling,” on The Old Grey Whistle Test as part of the BBC music program’s July 11 broadcast, which also featured sets by Mancunian punk poet John Cooper Clarke and film of The Cars, Steely Dan, and a duet between Peter Tosh and Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger.


“Hong Kong Garden”

On August 18, 1978, Siouxsie and the Banshees debuted with “Hong Kong Garden,” an exclusive a-side backed with “Voices.”

A. “Hong Kong Garden” (2:52)

B. “Voices” (5:33)

Siouxsie and the Banshees recorded “Hong Kong Garden” at London’s Fallout Shelter with Nils Stevenson and co-producer Steve Lillywhite, a soundman on 1977 albums by Ultravox (Ultravox!, Ha! Ha! Ha!) and Eddie & the Hot Rods (Life On the Line). Stevenson co-produced “Voices” with American soundman Bruce Albertine, an engineer on the two Heavy Cruiser albums and recent Polydor titles by James Brown and the JB’s.

Three weeks before its release, Siouxsie and the Banshees performed “Hong Kong Garden” on Revolver as part of the ITV music program’s July 29 broadcast, which also featured sets by Bonnie Tyler, Buzzcocks, Ian Dury & the Blockheads, Sore Throat, and The Vibrators.

In the rusty monochrome “Hong Kong Garden” video, the Banshees mime in white saturation on a studio soundstage amid zoomed overlays. The BBC music program Top of the Pops aired the clip on its August 31 broadcast amid current hits by 10cc (“Dreadlock Holiday”), Cliff Richard (“Please Remember Me”), Commodores (“Three Times a Lady”), Herbie Hancock (“I Thought It Was You”), Hi-Tension (“British Hustle”), The Rezillos (“Top of the Pops”), and Police drummer Stewart Copeland in his alter ego Klark Kent (“Don’t Care”).


The Scream

Siouxsie and the Banshees released their debut album, The Scream, on November 13, 1978, on Polydor. It features eight group-composed originals by the current lineup (Siouxsie Sioux, Steve Severin, John McKay, Kenny Morris) and one track (“Carcass”) from the pre-McKay 1977 era with guitarist Peter Fenton. Side One closes with a primal cover of The Beatles classic “Helter Skelter.”

The album’s lyrical credits divide between Severin (“Jigsaw Feeling” “Overground” “Mirage”) and Sioux (the balance of Side Two); they both contribute words to “Carcass.”

1. “Pure” (1:50)
2. “Jigsaw Feeling” (4:39)
3. “Overground” (3:50)
4. “Carcass” (3:49)
5. “Helter Skelter” (3:46) is a Paul McCartney rocker credited to the Lennon–McCartney songwriting partnership. The original appears on The Beatles’ 1968 self-titled double album (colloquially known as “the white album”).

6. “Mirage” (2:50)
7. “Metal Postcard (Mittageisen)” (4:14)
8. “Nicotine Stain” (2:58)
9. “Suburban Relapse” (4:12)
10. “Switch” (7:02) features McKay on saxophone.

Sessions took place in August 1978 at London’s RAK Studios, where Siouxsie and the Banshees co-produced The Scream with Steve Lillywhite, who also worked on 1978 debuts by The Only Ones and ex-New York Dolls guitarist Johnny Thunders.

The album’s cover art draws from the 1968 surrealist drama The Swimmer, in which traveler Neddy Merrill (Burt Lancaster) discovers a network of pools on the route to his house and swims the network (pool-to-pool, backyard-to-backyard) on his journey home; which exhausts him to the point of agony. (The visual irony rests on submergence, one state in which a distressed subject is unable to scream.)

Photographer Paul Wakefield selected the swimming pool at the Central London YMCA for its deep-blue lighting and light-blue floor marks. The imagery (front, back, and inner-sleeve) features YMCA members in the act of submergence. Wakefield’s photography also appears on mid-seventies titles by Andy Fraser, Baker Gurvitz Army, Esperanto, Ian Gillan Band, Rick Wakeman, Supertramp (Crisis! What Crisis?), Vangelis, and recent albums by City Boy (Dinner at the Ritz), Colosseum II (War Dance), Lancaster–Lumley (Marscape), and Sally Oldfield (Water Bearer).

The Scream reached No. 12 on the UK Albums Charts. The album bore no singles but “Mirage” later reappeared on their 1981 compilation Once Upon a Time/The Singles. In May 1979, Polydor issued The Scream in the US with “Hong Kong Garden” appended at the start of Side One.


1979


“The Staircase (Mystery)”

On March 23, 1979, Siouxsie and the Banshees released their second standalone single, “The Staircase (Mystery),” a lurching group-written number backed with a cover of the T. Rex song “20th Century Boy.”

A. “The Staircase (Mystery)” (3:06)

B. “20th Century Boy” (1:57) originated as a March 1973 T. Rex a-side written by March Bolan.

Nils Stevenson co-produced the single, which reached No. 24 on the UK Singles Chart.

“The Staircase (Mystery)” video opening on a snow globe ballroom couple and pans down to the band on a soundstage, where Siouxsie writhes in boots, white pants and vest, and a ruffle-cuffed top while the band (clad mostly in black) appear ivory white under the bright lights. TotP aired the video on its April 26 broadcast amid numbers by Amii Stewart (“Knock On Wood”), Eruption (“One Way Ticket”), Generation X (“Valley of the Dolls”), The Monks (“Nice Legs Shame About Her Face”), Supertramp (“The Logical Song”), and a Legs & Co. skit to “Love You Inside Out” by the Bee Gees.


Join Hands

Siouxsie and the Banshees released their second album, Join Hands, on August 31, 1979, on Polydor. It features the single “Playground Twist” and three additional songs with Sioux-penned lyrics: “Placebo Effect,” “Premature Burial,” and “Mother/Oh Mein Papa,” an adoption of the German song “O mein Papa.” Severin penned “Regal Zone” and “Icon.”

Side Two closes with a fourteen-minute version of “The Lords Prayer,” a live staple performed at the first ever Banshees show. They group-composed the music on the six originals, including “Poppy Day,” which appropriates words by WWI Canadian poet John McCrae.

1. “Poppy Day” (2:04)
2. “Regal Zone” (3:47)
3. “Placebo Effect” (4:40)
4. “Icon” (5:27)
5. “Premature Burial” (5:58)

1. “Playground Twist” (3:01)
2. “Mother/Oh Mein Papa” (3:22) appropriates “Oh Mein Papa,” a song by Swiss composer Paul Burkhard for the 1939 German musical Der schwarze Hecht (The Black Pike) with lyrics by Geoffrey Parsons and John Turner; appended by Sioux.
3. “The Lords Prayer” (14:09)

Sessions took place in May–June 1979 at AIR Studios, where Siouxsie made select piano contributions and recorded her vocals after John McKay (guitar, saxophone) and the rhythm section completed the music tracks. The process put Siouxsie and Steve Severin at odds with McKay and drummer Kenny Morris.

Nils Stevenson co-produced Join Hands with Mike Stavrou, an engineer on mid-seventies titles by  Chris De Burgh, Chopyn, Olivia Newton-John, Sassafras, Steeleye Span, and recent albums by Diana Ross (Baby It’s Me), Focus, and onetime Stealers Wheel co-leader Joe Egan. This is the first production credit for Stavrou, who co-engineered the album with Ian Morais.

Join Hands is housed in a white gatefold sleeve designed by Rob O’Connor with photography by Adrian Boot, a veteran NME photojournalist with earlier visual credits for Bob Marley & the Wailers, the Edgar Broughton Band, Kevin Ayers, Roy Harper, and more recent titles by Bethnal, The Boomtown Rats (self-titled), Kursaal Flyers, Magazine (Real Life), Ultravox (Systems of Romance), and Camel (I Can See Your House from Here).

On the Join Hands out-gates, the front (bold) and back (faint) present the same cutout image of four soldier figurines at Guards Memorial, a 1926 monument to the fallen British Army soldiers of WWI. Stevenson suggested the sleeve concept just before the completion deadline after he and Polydor vetoed the original design by John Maybury, a friend of Morris who intended to use a distorted photocopy of a Holy Communion illustration of four children at a church service. Maybury also made sketch drawings of each member, which appear on the inner-gates.

The Banshees issued “Playground Twist” two months in advance of Join Hands as a single backed with the non-album “Love In a Void,” a four-chord punk song from their early live set.

B. “Love In a Void” (2:35) originates from the 1977 Banshees setlist during Peter Fenton’s tenure. Severin wrote the lyrics.

In the “Playground Twist” video, Siouxsie and the Banshees mime on a checker-floored soundstage flanked with play cages where children cavort while Sioux (striped shirt) sways intensely and her bandmates stare down at their instruments.

Siouxsie donned an overcoat over pajamas for the band’s first in-studio appearance on TotP, where they mimed “Playground Twist” on the show’s July 12 broadcast, which also featured numbers by The Beach Boys (“Lady Lynda”), Donna Summer (“Bad Girls”), Judie Tzuke (“Stay With Me Till Dawn”), The Police (“Can’t Stand Losing You”), Public Image Ltd. (“Death Disco”), Rickie Lee Jones (“Chuck E.’s In Love”), Stonebridge McGuinness (“Oo-Eeh Baby”), Thin Lizzy (“Do Anything You Want To”), and the Tubeway Army (“Are ‘Friends’ Electric?”).

Join Hands reached No. 13 on the UK Albums Chart.


Join Hands Tour Walkout

Siouxsie and the Banshees embarked on a UK tour with The Cure, a post-punk trio signed to Polydor-subsidiary Fiction Records. The tour commenced on August 29 in Bournemouth (Stateside Theatre) at hit Aylesbury (8/30: Friars Club) and Belfast (9/5: Ulster Hall).

Tensions in the Banshees camp erupted on the afternoon of September 7 before a scheduled show at Aberdeen’s Capitol Theater. During a pre-show record store meet-and-greet, John McKay and Kenny Morris fled the event in protest of policies surrounding the Join Hands promotional blitz. Nils Stevenson pursued the pair to a nearby town, where he lost them at the train station. Later, local post-punks The Scars opened the Capitol show, followed by The Cure, who played continuously as the Banshees realized they were down two members. Siouxsie emerged before the eager crowd and announced the cancellation of their performance, suffixed with an open contract on the two absconded members. Stevenson gave McKay’s abandoned guitar to a young male attendee who wished to purchase an out-of-stock Banshees badge.

Sioux and Severin cancelled the next five dates of the Banshees tour in search of replacements. Cure guitarist–singer Robert Smith offered his services and those of Cure drummer Lol Tolhurst. The Banshees hired drummer Budgie, formerly of Liverpool punks Big In Japan and recently of The Slits. After fruitless auditions of multiple guitarists, the Banshees used Smith, who did double-duties each ensuing night of the tour, which re-commenced on September 18 at De Montfort Hall in Leicester. Smith played fifteen dates as the dual Cure–Banshees guitarist on the Join Hands Tour, which wrapped in London with an October 15 show at the Hammersmith Odeon.


1980

After the 1979 tour debacle, Siouxsie Sioux rested for one month on doctor’s orders. She learned guitar during this time in preparation for the next album. Budgie, initially a temp hire, became a permanent Banshee. Steve Severin contacted Magazine guitarist John McGeoch to play on their album in-progress.

McGeoch plays on the 1978–79 Magazine albums Real Life and Secondhand Daylight. Along with Magazine keyboardist Dave Formula and bassist Barry Adamson, he partook in Visage, an electro-dance project assembled by Blitz Club impresario Steve Strange and DJ Rusty Egan, a serial new wave drummer (Rich Kids, Skids). The five teamed with Ultravox keyboardist Billy Curry and recent Rich Kid (and onetime Slik) guitarist–singer Midge Ure for the 1979 single “Tar,” which presaged the 1980 Polydor release Visage and the UK–European hits “Fade to Gray” and “Mind of a Toy.” Meanwhile, the involved parties balanced commitments in Magazine and Ultravox (now with Ure, who replaced original frontman John Foxx).

As Magazine completed its third album, McGeoch assisted the Banshees trio on their winter 1980 single “Happy House,” an ethereal psych number that reached the UK Top 20. After Magazine’s May 1980 release The Correct Use of Soap, McGeoch jumped ship to the Banshees.


Kaleidoscope

Siouxsie and the Banshees released their third album, Kaleidoscope, on August 1, 1980, on Polydor. It marks the debut of their new lineup with drummer Budgie and guitarist John McGeoch, who plays on five tracks but technically didn’t join the band till sessions wrapped, hence his absence from the sleeve and accompanying videos.

Kaleidoscope is titled after its loose concept of a musical multitude of styles and tonal colors. The Banshees cultivate psychedelic goth on the frosty ethereal numbers “Happy House” and “Paradise Place.” Elsewhere, they embrace minimal-synth (“Red Light”) and swelling balladry (“Desert Kisses”). Side Two opens with “Christine,” an acoustic whirlwind that presaged future hits.

Siouxie Sioux and Steve Severin co-composed each track apart from the McGeoch co-write “Trophy.” She wrote all the lyrics apart from the Severin-penned “Christine” and “Red Light.”

1. “Happy House” (3:53)
2. “Tenant” (3:43)
3. “Trophy” (3:20)
4. “Hybrid” (5:33)
5. “Clockface” (1:55)
6. “Lunar Camel” (3:03)

7. “Christine” (3:01)
8. “Desert Kisses” (4:16) Features backing vocals by The Sirens (comprised of of Severin, McGeoch and Budgie).
9. “Red Light” (3:23)
10. “Paradise Place” (4:36)
11. “Skin” (3:50)

Sessions spanned the first half of 1980 at studios in Monmouth, Wales (Rockfield),  Leatherhead (Surrey Sound), and London (Polydor Studios). Siouxsie and the Banshees co-produced Kaleidoscope with Surrey Sound’s Nigel Gray, a soundman on 1979–80 titles by Code Blue, Fay Ray, Hazel O’Connor, The Planets, and The Police (Reggatta De Blanc).

Budgie drums on every track apart from the rhythmless “Lunar Camel,” which features Siouxsie on synthesizer. He takes over bass duties on “Tenant,” which features electric guitar and sitar by Severin, who plays synthesizer on “Clockface” and “Red Light.”

In addition to vocals, Sioux makes select use of acoustic guitar (“Trophy”), electric guitar (“Paradise Place”), finger cymbals (“Desert Kisses”), and melodica (“Red Light”).

McGeoch appears on five tracks total (all guitar), including two (“Trophy,” “Hybrid”) that also feature him on saxophone. He also doubles on Farfisa organ (“Christine”), sitar and string synth (“Desert Kisses”). Ex-Pistols guitarist Steve Jones (now in The Professionals with Pistols drummer Paul Cook) plays on “Clockface,” “Paradise Place,” and “Skin.”

Join Hands visual designer Rob O’Connor served as art direction on Kaleidoscope, which features sleeve photography by Joe Lyons. The front cover shows the band motion-blurred against wall-blinds partitions (seen in two accompanying videos) with the name and title in Asian brush stroke font. The inner-sleeve presents the lyrics as handwritten curve-bars of text (white ink on black) that form a song-by-song spiral.

“Happy House” appeared five months ahead of Kaleidoscope on March 7, 1980, backed with the non-album “Drop Dead/Celebration.”

B. “Drop Dead / Celebration” (4:23)

In the “Happy House” video, Siouxsie peaks through the window of a narrow checker-tile room (viewed through a skewed lens), where first Severin and then Budgie appear with their instruments. She joins them inside the room, where she jumps about in a harlequin costume and (midway) slumps against the wall with an ukulele. They momentarily stand side-by-side under rainbow umbrellas.

“Happy House” reached No. 17 on the UK Singles Chart. Siouxsie and the Banshees mimed “Happy House” on the March 13 broadcast of TotP, where Sioux (tie and crimson pants), tossed pixie dust from her coat pocket. TotP thrice aired the segment amid winter–spring hits by The Bodysnatchers (“Let’s Do Rock Steady”), Brothers Johnson (“Stomp”), The Buggles (“Clean Clean”), Fern Kinney (“Together We Are Beautiful”), Genesis (“Turn It On Again”), Judas Priest (“Living After Midnight”), Peter Gabriel (“Games Without Frontiers”), Rainbow (“All Night Long”), Rush (“Spirit of Radio”), Sad Cafe (“My Oh My”), Saxon (“Wheels of Steel”), and The Vapors (“Turning Japanese”). Siouxsie and the Banshees also mimed the song on the Dutch music program TopPop where Sioux (baggy red pants) donned one of her first teased updo’s.

“Christine” appeared on May 30 as the album’s second advance single, backed with “Eve White, Eve Black.” The picture sleeve shows a platinum blond subject (Christine) enacting the chorus line: consuming strawberries (left) and hoarding bananas (right).

B. “Eve White / Eve Black” (3:00)

“Christine” peaked just outside the UK Top 20. In the song’s video, Siouxie (straw hat, yellow scarf) plays acoustic guitar (played on the actual recording by the absent McGeoch) while the Banshees mime in a space partitioned with wall blinds (shown on the album cover), which frequently reveal a green screen of Sioux’s zoomed-in face.

Siouxsie and the Banshees also made a video to the popular deep cut “Red Light,” filmed in the same wall-blinds studio space; this time in red-tinted monochrome. The camera follows her roaming silhouette, intercut with diagonal zoom-ins. She alternately appears dim-lighted (in shades) and saturated (with stark facial expressions). A normal-lighted middle scene gives full view of her outfit: white capri pants, red sleeveless top, and polkadot scarf.

Kaleidoscope reached No. 5 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 30 in New Zealand.


“Israel”

On November 28, 1980, Siouxsie and the Banshees released “Israel,” a psychedelic number backed with “Red Over White.”

A. “Israel” (4:54)

B. “Red Over White” (4:31)

“Israel” peaked just outside the UK Top 40. In the song’s video, the Banshees perform in an empty auditorium where Siouxie (leather jacket, thigh boots, Cleopatra hair, Star of David shirt) rattles a tambourine while Severin (glasses, tie, beret), McGeoch (leather coat, pink pants), and a now-blond Budgie (pink sleeveless top) focus on their instruments.


1981

As Siouxsie and the Banshees planned their followup to Kaleidoscope, Sioux and Budgie became a couple. In the early rehearsal stage, the two discovered that one demo (“But Not Them”) worked with its bare drum–vocal arrangement. They organized studio time to cut five songs, including a cover of the 1966 Troggs hit “Wild Thing.” They named their duo act The Creatures, which released the EP Wild Things in September 1981 on Polydor. It features a risque monochrome shot of the pair embraced naked and wet in a shower. Join Hands photographer Adrian Boot took the photo as part of a larger intimate portrait of the couple’s newfound romance.

Meanwhile, Steve Severin produced “Dead Pop Stars,” the debut single by Altered Images, a Scottish new wave band that employed his services for their 1981 debut album Happy Birthday (apart from the hit title-track).


Juju

Siouxsie and the Banshees released their fourth album, Juju, on June 19, 1981, on Polydor. It contains nine group-composed songs, including the singles “Spellbound” and “Arabian Nights.”

Juju is the first of two Banshees studio albums with the second four-piece lineup of co-founders Siouxsie Sioux and Steve Severin with drummer Budgie and guitarist John McGeoch, who guests on the prior album and joined after its completion. 

Siouxsie Sioux wrote all the lyrics apart from “Spellbound” and “Halloween,” both penned by Steve Severin.

1. “Spellbound” (3:20)
2. “Into the Light” (4:15)
3. “Arabian Knights” (3:05) Sioux conceived this tune (initially a waltz) on a Vox Teardrop guitar.
4. “Halloween” (3:37)
5. “Monitor” (5:33)

6. “Night Shift” (6:06)
7. “Sin in My Heart” (3:37) Sioux plays guitar on this track.
8. “Head Cut” (4:22)
9. “Voodoo Dolly” (7:04)

Sessions took place in early 1981 at co-producer Nigel Gray’s Surrey Sound Studios in Leatherhead, the site of concurrent recordings by Godley & Creme, The Passions, Sad Lovers & Giants, This Heat, and Wishbone Ash.

Kevin Godley and Lol Creme left behind a Gizmo: a guitar-alteration device that the pair developed in the early days of 10cc. The device attaches to the guitar’s body as a string enclosure equipped with buttons. When pressed, they alter the sound of select strings to approximate the sound of bowed violin strings. John McGeoch uses the Gizmo on “Into the Light.” On “Sin in My Heart,” he uses an EBow, a string driver that creates a feedback loop, which results in guitar tones akin to string instruments.

The Kaleidoscope visual team of designer Rob O’Connor and photographer Joe Lyons created the Juju packaging. The outer sleeve shows a collage of grand staves (white) in soft focus against a dark backdrop with an African statue (front) discovered by the band at Horniman Museum in Forest Hill. The inner-sleeve contains medium monochrome pics of each member and diagonal lyric columns. US copies (on PVC Records) contains color photographs of each member (same photoshoot) on the back cover.

The Banshees issued “Spellbound” on May 22 as Juju‘s advance single, backed with “Follow the Sun” and “Slap Dash Snap.”

B1. “Follow the Sun” (2:49)

B2. “Slap Dash Snap” (3:42)

“Spellbound” peaked just outside the UK Top 20. The video opens with purple curtains, where Siouxsie appears (translucent) in a cat-like pose. This cuts to studio footage that appears translucent over a woodlands setting. Budgie (platinum hair, striped shirt) takes prominence before the lens cuts to Siouxsie, who gesticulates and turns amid blowing wind in a yellow dress with black dots and layered wrap-arounds. As the band play on, the studio scene fades in and out through forest footage, where the members run endlessly through trees as a red-caped wendigo appears.

Siouxsie and the Banshees mimed “Spellbound” on the June 4 broadcast of TotP, which twice aired the segment amid spring hits by Adam & The Ants (“Stand & Deliver”), Imagination (“Body Talk”), Kool & The Gang (“Take It to the Top”), Linx (“Throw Away the Key”), Michael Jackson (“One Day In Your Life”), Odyssey (“Going Back to My Roots” Phil Collins (“If Leaving Me Is Easy”), Squeeze (“Is That Love?”), The Specials (“Ghost Town”), and Toyah (“I Want to Be Free”).

In the Banshees segment, Siouxsie (in possibly her most iconic look) dons a leather a-line mini-skirt with matching vest over a sheer top and fishnets with over-the-knee boots, dog bracelet, and frazzle-bobbed hair, complete with stenciled eyebrows and blunt eye makeup.

On July 24, “Arabian Nights” appeared as the album’s second single, backed with “Supernatural Thing” and “Congo Conga.”

B1. “Supernatural Thing” (4:26)

B2. “Congo Conga” (4:14)

“Arabian Knights” peaked just outside the UK Top 30. The video opens against a desert green screen where the Banshees unravel Siouxsie from a Persian carpet roll. She rides a magic carpet in Arabian New Romantic garb (purple robe, gold lame headwrap) and walks along a beach as the others trail. Middle scenes cut between her brandishing a sword (desert backdrop) and the Banshees swordfighting (temple backdrop). TotP aired the video on its August 20 broadcast amid summer hits by The Human League (“Love Action (I Believe In Love)”), Randy Crawford (“Rainy Night In Georgia”), U2 (“Fire”), and UB40 (“One In Ten”).

Juju reached No. 7 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 29 in New Zealand.


Once Upon a Time/The Singles

In December 1981, Polydor issued Once Upon a Time/The Singles, a collection of eight 1978–81 Banshees a-sides: one from Join Hands (“Playground Twist”) and two each from Kalaidoscope (“Happy House,” “Christine”) and Juju (“Spellbound,” “Arabian Knights”), plus the Scream deep cut “Mirage” and four non-album sides — “Hong Kong Garden,” “The Staircase (Mystery),”  “Israel,” and the b-side “Love In a Void.”

Once Upon a Time is housed in a sleeve with xeroxed screencaps of Banshees videos overlaid and underlaid with De Stijl color blocks. The inner-sleeve shows a tinted image still of Siouxsie from the “Arabian Knights” video. The compilation reached No. 16 in New Zealand and No. 21 on the UK Albums Chart, where it spent twenty-six weeks.


1982


“Fireworks”

On May 21, 1982, Siouxsie and the Banshees released “Fireworks,” a standalone single backed with “Coal Mind” and (on the 12″ version) “We Fall.”

A. “Fireworks” (3:37) The 12″ version is an extended mix (4:33).

B1. “Coal Mind” (3:39)

B2. “We Fall” (3:32)

“Fireworks” was their third single in two years (after “Christine” and “Spellbound”) to peak at No. 22 on the UK Singles Chart. Siouxsie and the Banshees mimed it on the June 3 broadcast of TotP amid current hits by ABC (“The Look of Love”), Adam Ant (“Goody Two Shoes”), Echo & The Bunnymen (“The Back of Love”), Fun Boy Three (“The Telephone Always Rings”), and Madness (“House of Fun”).

In the “Fireworks” video, the Banshees cavort as the sky lights up with sparks and smoke. They appear on a hilltop setting off sparks and reappear on a flat plain with instruments in hand whilst engulfed in smoke and firework showers.


A Kiss in the Dreamhouse

Siouxsie and the Banshees released their fifth album, A Kiss in the Dreamhouse, on November 5, 1982, on Polydor.

This is their third and final album with guitarist John McGeoch, who left before the release date for health reasons. Cure frontman Robert Smith commenced his second stint as Banshees live guitarist on the ensuing tour.

1. “Cascade” Severin (4:25)
2. “Green Fingers” (3:33)
3. “Obsession” (3:51)
4. “She’s a Carnival” Severin (3:39)
5. “Circle” (5:22)

6. “Melt!” Severin (3:47)
7. “Painted Bird” (4:15)
8. “Cocoon” (4:29)
9. “Slowdive” (4:24)

Sessions took place between June and August, 1982, at Playground Studio in Camden Town, where facility owner and Creatures soundman Mike Hedges (Bauhaus, The Cure, The Passions, The Associates) engineered the album, which Siouxsie and the Banshees self-produced.

The band arrived with three completed numbers (“Cascade,” “Painted Bird,” “Green Fingers”) and conceived new songs in the studio through improvisations. Additional sessions occurred at Abbey Road Studios.

At Sioux’s insistence, they used strings in lieu of synths on A Kiss in the Dreamhouse. “Obsession” features two cellists (Alison Briggs, Caroline Lavelle) and two violinists (Anne Stephenson, Virginia Hewes). The latter two (both of Marc & The Mambas) also play on “Slowdive,” which features six-string bass by Severin, who plays organ on “Painted Bird.” McGeoch plays keyboards on three cuts (“Cocoon,” “Circle,” “Cascade”) and recorder on “Green Fingers.”

Hedges arrived after his stint as Cure producer on their 1980–81 albums Seventeen Seconds and Faith. He encouraged sound experimentation in the Banshees camp, including vocal overdubs and voice effects. Hedges worked on Dreamhouse in sequence with 1982 titles by Diamond Head and Thomas Dolby (The Golden Age of Wireless).

A Kiss in the Dreamhouse features sleeve art by Rocking Russian, a British design agency headed by former Sex Pistols concert promoter (and Rich Kids manager) Alex McDowell. The cover shows Siouxie face-to-face with her reflection (front) and asleep (back) flanked with gold shapes (pyramids with eyes) and colored doodles (zigzags, arrows, spiral clusters) inspired by the art of Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt. The stacked band logo also appears on the “Fireworks” sleeve and subsequent singles. Photographer Michael Kostiff also photographed The Cure for their concurrent release Pornography. Rocking Russian also did 1981–82 covers for the Au Pairs, Bill Nelson, Central Line, Eurythmics (In the Garden), Peter Hammill (Sitting Targets).

Severin titled the album in reference to the “Dreamhouse,” a 1940s Hollywood brothel staffed by prostitutes who underwent cosmetic procedures to resemble movie starlets. The quote on the inner-sleeve (“Nellie the Elephant packed his trunk and said goodbye to the circus”) refers to former manager Nils Stevenson (nicknamed “Nellie”), who the Banshees terminated prior to the Dreamhouse sessions.

The Banshees issued “Slowdive” on October 4 as the Dreamhouse lead-off single, backed with “Cannibal Roses” and “Obsession II.”

B1. “Cannibal Roses” (3:53)

B2. “Obsession II” (4:30)

The “Slowdive” video takes place in a blue- and purple-lit dark space where Siouxsie (white lace, black leather tassels) swing rides from a tube structure and writhes about on the ground (with a wolf) as her suited bandmates line dance.

Like “Israel” the year prior, “Slowdive” peaked at No. 41 on the UK Singles Chart.

On November 26, “Melt!” appeared as the album’s second single, backed with “A Sleeping Rain.”

B1. “A Sleeping Rain” (4:20)
B2. “Il est né, le divin enfant” (2:32
) is a traditional French Christmas carol.

The Banshees didn’t make a video for “Melt!” However, they filmed a studio clip for the album track “Circle,” in which Siouxsie dons a yellow military jacket and swings a pace stick against subway green screens.

A Kiss in the Dreamhouse reached No. 11 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 19 in New Zealand.

As Dreamhouse hit shelves Robert Smith stepped in for the road-weary John McGeoch, who convalesced after a substance-fueled depression and resurfaced in 1984 in the British supergroup The Armoury Show.

Smith reappeared as The Cure (temporarily down to a duo of him and drummer-turned-keyboardist Lol Tolhurst) made a style shift with the upbeat autumn single “Let’s Go to Bed.” He served as the Banshees’ guitarist on the Dreamhouse tour, which covered eleven November UK dates and ten December Continental show. They twice performed “Melt!” on UK television: on the November 12 broadcast of The Old Gray Whistle Test (with “Painted Bird”) and the December 3 broadcast of The Oxford Road Show (with “Overground”).


1983

In February 1983, Siouxsie and the Banshees toured Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. Cure frontman Robert Smith continued as the Banshees’ guitarist. Between their tour and next round of studio sessions, the members split into two side camps.

Siouxsie Sioux and Budgie resurrected The Creatures for the May 1983 release Feast. It contains ten songs, including the single “Miss That Girl” and three tracks with the Lamalani Hula Academy Hawaiian Chanters: “Morning Dawning,” “Inoa ‘Ole,” and “Festival of Colours.” Feast and the non-album Creatures single “Right Now” (b/w “Weathercade”) appeared on Wonderland, an imprint set up through Polydor for Banshees-family releases.

Smith and Steve Severin formed The Glove, a project that grew out of the summer 1982 recording “Lament,” which appeared as a Cure flexi-disc in the August ’82 issued of Flexipop magazine. The Glove employed singer Jeanette Landray and the Dreamhouse string players for the September 1983 Wonderland release Blue Sunshine, titled after the 1977 American horror film by director Jeff Lieberman. Blue Sunshine contains ten psychedelic art-pop songs, including the singles “Punish Me With Kisses” and “Like an Animal.”


“Dear Prudence”

On September 23, 1983, Siouxsie and the Banshees released the non-album Beatles cover “Dear Prudence” backed with “Tattoo.” The 12″ includes a third track, “There’s a Planet in My Kitchen.” This is the first Banshees studio release with Cure guitarist–frontman Robert Smith as a band member.

A. “Dear Prudence” (3:48) originated as 1968 psychedelic Beatles ballad; written by John Lennon and credited to the Lennon–McCartney partnership. Robert’s sister Janet Smith plays harpsichord on the Banshees version. The 12″ version contains a longer mix (4:12).

B1. “Tattoo” (3:30)

B2. “There’s a Planet in My Kitchen” (5:23)

“Dear Prudence” is the Banshees’ second White Album cover after “Helter Skelter” on The Scream. They were fans of The Beatles 1968 album apart from Smith, who agreed to record the Lennon song because the original sounded unfinished to his ears. The Banshees recorded the song in July 1983 at Europa Film Studios in Stockholm, Sweden, and did overdubs in London at Angel Recording Studios.

Cure videomaker Tim Pope (“Let’s Go to Bed,” “The Walk”) directed the “Dear Prudence” video in Venice, where the Banshees sway through temple halls and cross back and forth over the Ponte Lion bridge. Siouxsie appears in purple garb (solo) and black lace (group scenes). Pope’s effects include infrared and glistening overlays.

“Dear Prudence” reached No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart. Siouxsie and the Banshees mimed it on the August 29 broadcast of TotP, which twice aired the segment amid summer ’83 hits by Billy Joel (“Tell Her About It”), Culture Club (“Karma Chameleon”), David Essex (“Tahiti”), George Benson (“In Your Eyes”), Kajagoogoo (“Big Apple”), Men Without Hats (“The Safety Dance”), Naked Eyes (“Promises Promises”), Public Image Ltd (“This Is Not A Love Song”), Tracey Ullman (“They Don’t Know”), and Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson (“Say Say Say”). Siouxsie wears a backless turtleneck leather dress with striped tights in the segment, where Severin and Budgie move to the rhythm but Smith (shaded) stands aloof and almost motionless.


Nocturne

On November 25, 1983, Siouxsie and the Banshees released Nocturne, a live double-album comprised of sixteen numbers from their Sept. 30–Oct. 1 engagement at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Nocturne features renditions of four songs each from the recent albums Juju (“Night Shift,” “Sin in My Heart,” “Spellbound,” “Voodoo Dolly”) and A Kiss In the Dreamhouse (“Slowdive,” “Painted Bird,” “Cascade,” “Melt!”) and two songs each from Kaleidoscope (“Paradise Place,” “Happy House”) and The Scream (“Switch,” “Helter Skelter”).

Side One opens with a lengthy (6:45) rendition of “Israel,” followed by their just-released Beatles cover “Dear Prudence.” They also perform the rarities “Pulled to Bits” (the b-side of “Playground Twist”) and “Eve White–Eve Black”  (the b-side of “Christine”).

Nocturne is housed in a gatefold sleeve co-designed by the Banshees and Al McDowell’s Da Gama design company. The front displays a modified version of the stacked Banshees Dreamhouse logo (without the extended tails) and multiple dodecagons. The back cover has a tinted group photo of the current Banshees lineup with Cure guitarist–singer Robert Smith.


1984


Hyæna

Siouxsie and the Banshees released their sixth studio album, Hyæna, on June 8, 1984, on Polydor–Wonderland (UK) and Geffen (US). It features nine group compositions, including the singles “Dazzle” and “Swimming Horses.” Sioux wrote all the lyrics apart from three numbers (“Belladonna,” “Pointing Bone,” “Bring Me the Head of the Preacher Man”) penned by Steve Severin. US copies contain the 1983 UK standalone single “Dear Prudence.”

Hyæna is the only Banshees studio album with Cure frontman Robert Smith as a full member. He joined as their live guitarist for the autumn 1982 tour behind A Kiss In the Dreamhouse and stayed through the ensuing live album and the singles that preceded this release. His own band released their fifth proper studio album The Top (largely a Smith solo effort) one month before Hyæna.

1. “Dazzle” (5:30)
2. “We Hunger” (3:31)
3. “Take Me Back” (3:03)
4. “Belladonna” (4:30)
5. “Swimming Horses” (4:06)

6. “Bring Me the Head of the Preacher Man” (4:37)
7. “Running Town” (4:04)
8. “Pointing Bone” (3:49)
9. “Blow the House Down” (6:59)

Sessions occurred between autumn 1983 and spring 1984 in London and Power Plant and Pete Townshend’s Eel Pie Studios, where Siouxsie and the Banshees co-produced Hyæna with engineer Mike Hedges, who worked on concurrent titles by Marc Almond and Wah! Severin and Smith share keyboard duties and Budgie plays marimba on Hyæna, which features guest appearances by reedist Robin Canter and the Chandos Players string section.

The Banshees co-designed the Hyæna cover with Al McDowell’s Da Gama design company. The front and back feature Cubist-inspired cartoon critter clusters by painter Maria Penn. The inner-sleeve features hand-scrawled lyrics and monochrome member pics by veteran NME photojournalist Anton Corbijn, whose photography also appears on sleeves to 1984 releases by Carmel, Echo & The Bunnymen, Fad Gadget, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Gang of Four, and Propaganda

Three months before Hyæna hit shelves, the Banshees issued “Swimming Horses” as the advance single backed with “Let Go” and “The Humming Wires.” Siouxsie and the Banshees promoted the single with a seven-date tour of France and Italy.

B1. “Let Go” (3:37)

B2. “The Humming Wires” (4:23)

In the Pope-directed “Swimming Horses” video, Siouxsie dramatizes in front of her motionless, half-visible bandmates in a white batwing top with a large neckfold; alternately worn as a head wrap. This cuts between scenes of a swimming horse and Siouxsie in lover’s embrace with white web-laden mannequins.

Siouxsie and the Banshees mimed “Swimming Horses” on the March 29, 1984, broadcast of TotP amid current hits by Madonna (“Lucky Star”), Simple Minds (“Up On the Catwalk”), The Special AKA (“Nelson Mandela”), Thompson Twins (“You Take Me Up”), and ex-Damned bassist Captain Sensible (“Glad It’s All Over”). Unlike prior black-clad TotP appearance, the Banshees wore white for this number.

In late May, the Banshees released “Dazzle” as the second advance single backed with the non-album “I Promise.” The 12″ version features an extended “Dazzle” (7:06) subtitled “7 Mins Plus Glamour Mix” with a second exclusive b-side “Throw Them to the Lions.”

B1. “I Promise” (4:39)

B2. “Throw Them to the Lions” (4:52)

The “Dazzle” video opens with sparkling, splashing water and zooms primarily on Siouxsie, decked in revealing, gold-sequined black.

Hyæna reached No. 15 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 18 in New Zealand. Smith left the Banshees a fortnight before the album’s release to focus on The Cure. Siouxsie and the Banshees recruited Sheffield guitarist John Valentine Carruthers, recently of industrial rockers Clock DVA.


The Thorn

On October 19, 1984, Siouxsie and the Banshees released The Thorn, an EP comprised of orchestral re-recordings four songs from their catalog.

The Thorn contains new arrangements of one track each from Join Hands (“Placebo Effect”) and A Kiss In the Dreamhouse (“Overground”) and the b-sides to “Hong Kong Garden (“Voices”) and “Israel” (“Red Over White”). This is the first Banshees release with guitarist John Carruthers.

A1. “Overground” (3:53)
A2. “Voices (On the Air)” (5:26)

B1. “Placebo Effect” (4:37)
B2. “Red Over White” (5:43)

Siouxsie and the Banshees co-produced The Thorn with Mike Hedges. Dreamhouse violinists Anne Stephenson and Gini Ball (aka Virginia Hewes) return on “Red Over White.” Gini’s brother and fellow ex-Mamba Martin McCarrick (a future Banshee) handles string arrangements with Bill McGee, an ongoing Marc Almond sideman. The Chandos Players return with orchestration conducted by Sam Artiss.


1985


“Cities In Dust”

On October 18, 1985, Siouxsie and the Banshees released “Cities In Dust,” a melodramatic goth-psych number backed with “An Execution.” The 12″ contains a third track, “Quarterdrawing of the Dog.” The a-side served as an advance preview of their album in-progress.

Other Side
A. “Cities In Dust” (4:04) Concerns the ancient Roman city of Pompeii and its devastation following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in October of the year 72 AD. The 12″ contains the ‘Extended Eruption Mix’ (6:48).

This Side
B1. “An Execution” (3:51)
B2. “Quarterdrawing of the Dog” (4:59)

Siouxsie and the Banshees collectively wrote, arranged, and produced the three songs in September 1985 at London’s Matrix Studios with in-house engineer Julian Standen (Tormé, London Cowboys). American soundman Steve Churchyard mixed both edits of “Cities In Dust” amid work on 1985 titles by Bryan Ferry, Everything But the Girl, Go West, INXS, and Working Week.

The “Cities In Dust” video opens with boiling red liquid (possibly lava-infused blood), soon overlaid with mummified remains. This cuts to a rust curtain overlaid with a dancing skeleton, which opens to a backdrops of flowing lava and Siouxsie in a horizontal Cleopatra pose, where she mummifies but reappears as a zoomed apparition amid flashes of mummies, lava, skeletons, and pallid victims (the Banshees) writhing in the throes of death. Midway, a fire erupts where Sioux’s apparition performs her distinct arm-sway dance.

Banshees fan club president Billy Houlston designed the “Cities in Dust” sleeve, which shows a mummified mammal on a rust backdrops with gold serif letters and Greek meander trim. The vinyl label (Other Side) contains a gold-on-black reproduction of ancient Greek fresco erotica (meander-trimmed).

“Cities in Dust” reached No. 21 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 22 in Ireland. In the US, MTV placed the video on low rotation while the single reached No. 17 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart. Top of the Pops aired the song on its October 31 broadcast amid autumn hits by Elton John (“Nikita”), Kate Bush (“Cloudbusting”), King (“The Taste of Your Tears”), Matt Bianco (“Yeh Yeh”), and UB40 (“Don’t Break My Heart”).


1986

Siouxsie and the Banshees perform “Cities in Dust” during a club scene in the 1986 action-crime thriller Out of Bounds, which stars Anthony Michael Hall as a homespun Midwestern boy on the run from police and the mafia in a baggage-mix-up/murder scenario in post-punk Los Angeles.

The Banshees performed the 1986 WOMAD Festival (World of Music, Arts and Dance), a July 19–20 event at Kenn Pier Farm in Clevedon, Somerset, with sets by 23 Skidoo, AswadGil Scott-HeronThe Housemartins, Hugh Masekela, and Youssou N’Dour.


Tinderbox

Siouxsie and the Banshees released their seventh studio album, Tinderbox, on April 21, 1986, on Polydor–Wonderland (UK) and Geffen (US). It features eight group-composed songs with lyrics by Sioux, including the pre-released singles “Candyman” and “Cities In Dust,” a breakthrough stateside hit.

Tinderbox is the first of two Banshees studio albums with guitarist John Valentine Carruthers, who shares keyboard chores with bassist and co-founder Steve Severin.

1. “Candyman” (3:44)
2. “The Sweetest Chill” (4:07)
3. “This Unrest” (6:21)
4. “Cities in Dust” (3:51)

5. “Cannons” (3:14)
6. “Party’s Fall” (4:56)
7. “92°” (6:02) opens with a sampled line from the 1953 American sci-fi horror film It Came from Outer Space: “Did you know … that more murders are committed at 92 Fahrenheit than any other temperature? I read an article once. Lower temperatures, people are easygoing. Over 92, it’s too hot to move. But just 92, people get irritable”
8. “Lands End” (6:06)

Sessions commenced in May 1985 in Berlin, Germany, at Hansa Studio by the Wall: the recording site of David Bowie‘s 1977 album “Heroes”. The Hansa sessions involved veteran soundman Hugh Jones, a producer–engineer on 1984–85 titles by The Colourfield, Del Amitri, Echo & The Bunnymen, Fiat Lux, The Icicle Works, Modern English, and Rubber Rodeo. In September, the Banshees finished the “Cities In Dust” single at Matrix, London. In December, Siouxsie recorded vocals for the balance of Tinderbox at AIR Studios with Steve Churchyard.

Tinderbox is housed in a dark burgundy sleeve with a tinted reproduction of an iconic 1927 tornado photo by Lucille Handberg, who captured the twister as it ripped through Jasper, Minnesota. Her image appeared earlier on album covers to albums by Miles Davis (Bitches Brew) and Deep Purple (Stormbringer). The back cover shows a Banshees performance photo-negative. Kaleidoscope photographer Joe Lyons took the inner-sleeve member pics. Siouxsie dons a large feather head-dress and opera gloves with a (unseen) strapless dress.

“Candyman” appeared in late February as the album’s second advance single, backed with “Lullaby” and “Umbrella.”

B1. “Lullaby” Steven Severin (3:33)
B2. “Umbrella” (4:12)

The “Candyman” video focuses on Siouxsie, who appears in a strapless wraparound dress with opera gloves and teased tresses (wrapped in select scenes). The camera captures her expressions and gesticulations in various tints (pink, teal, lavender); mixed with translucent overlays of her full-bodied self and the Banshees (shadowed and in the flesh).

Tinderbox reached No. 13 on the UK Albums Chart and went Top 40 in Sweden and New Zealand. The remastered 2009 CD reissue contains four bonus tracks, including the unearthed 1985 demo “Starcrossed Lovers.”


1987


Through the Looking Glass

Siouxsie and the Banshees released their eighth album, Through the Looking Glass, on March 2, 1987, on Polydor–Wonderland (UK) and Geffen (US). The album features covers of select band favorites from the sixties and seventies, including songs by Sparks (“This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us”), Kraftwerk (“Hall of Mirrors”), Roxy Music (“Sea Breezes”), The Doors (“You’re Lost Little Girl”), Television (“Little Johnny Jewel”), and John Cale (“Gun”).

The Banshees previewed Looking Glass with the Trinity cover “This Wheel’s on Fire,” followed by their version of Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger.”

Looking Glass is the second of two Banshees albums with guitarist John Valentine Carruthers, who again splits keyboard credits with bassist Steve Severin.

1. “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us” (3:09) is a song by the American art-pop duo Sparks; written by keyboardist Ron Mael and included on their 1974 third album Kimono My House, their first in a UK-recorded trilogy for Island Records. The original reached No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart and galvanized hoards of young British music-goers who ultimately formed the new wave vanguard, including the Banshees.

2. “Hall of Mirrors” (5:03) is a song by the Germany electronic combo Kraftwerk; written by co-founders Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider (with lyrics by poet friend Emil Schult) and included on their 1977 sixth album Trans-Europe Express.

3. “Trust in Me” (4:06) is a song from the 1967 Disney animated musical comedy The Jungle Book; written by the Sherman Brothers.

4. “This Wheel’s on Fire” (5:17) is a 1967 song by Bob Dylan and The Band, co-written by Dylan and Band bassist Rick Danko and recorded as part of the sessions that form their joint 1975 archival release The Basement Tapes. In 1968, the song went public via versions by The Band (on their debut album Music from Big Pink) and Julie Driscoll, who scored a UK No. 5 hit with the song backed by Brian Auger & Trinity. Sioux long-admired Julie’s version with no knowledge of its Dylan origin.

5. “Strange Fruit” (3:53) originated as a 1939 a-side by American jazz singer Billie Holiday; written by poet Abel Meeropol (aka Lewis Allan).

6. “You’re Lost Little Girl” (2:57) is a song by The Doors from their 1967 second album Strange Days.

7. “The Passenger” (5:10) is a song by Iggy Pop from Lust for Life, his second of two 1977 albums produced by David Bowie; co-authored by Pop guitarist Ricky Gardiner (ex-Beggars Opera).

8. “Gun” (5:06) is a song by ex-Velvet Underground violist John Cale from his 1974 Phil Manzanera-produced album Fear, the first of his proto-punk Island Records trilogy.

9. “Sea Breezes” (4:15) originated as the penultimate track on the 1972 debut album by Roxy Music. Roxy frontman Bryan Ferry wrote the song and recorded an alternate version for his 1976 solo album Let’s Stick Together.

10. “Little Johnny Jewel” (4:56) is a 1975 song by New York proto-punks Television; written by guitarist–singer Tom Verlaine and released as a two-sided standalone single in advance of their two albums.

Sessions took place in August–September 1986 at Abbey Road Studios, where Siouxsie and the Banshees self-produced the album with DreamhouseHyæna soundman Mike Hedges, who engineered Through the Looking Glass in succession with titles by Flesh for Lulu, Strange Cruise, Toyah Willcox, and the 1987 Virgin release Mother Fist and Her Five Daughters by Marc Almond & the Willing Sinners.

The Banshees titled Through the Looking Glass after the 1871 children’s novel by English author Lewis Carol, whose earlier Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) inspired the name of their record label. Cellist and Thorn conductor Martin McCarrick arranged the album’s orchestral section, which includes Dreamhouse violinist Gini Ball, saxophonist Martin Dobson (Eurythmics, Naked Eyes), trumpeter Luke Tunney (Swing Out Sister, Tim Finn), and trombonist Peter Thoms (Landscape). The album and its accompanying singles feature sleeve art by the London design firm Crocodile.

“This Wheel’s on Fire” appeared on January 12, 1987, as the advance single, backed with the non-album Banshees original “Shooting Sun.” The 12″ version contains an extended “Wheel’s on Fire” mix dubbed the ‘Incendiary Mix‘ (7:32).

The single also appeared as a double-pack with two additional exclusives: the band original “Sleepwalking (On the High Wire)” and the Jonathan Richman cover “She Cracked.”

B. “Shooting Sun” (4:45)
C. “Sleepwalking (On the High Wire)” (5:08)
D. “She Cracked” (3:05) is a 1972 song by Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers; recorded in a John Cale-produced demo-batch that surfaced on the 1976 Beserkley release The Modern Lovers.

The Banshees’ version of “This Wheel’s on Fire” reached No. 14 on the UK Singles Chart and received heavy airplay on American alternative radio stations. In the song’s video, the Banshees ride through greenlands on a horse and carriage; overlaid with translucent imagery of the band performing on a windy turnaround. Siouxsie waves rainbow tassels and models a Cruella de Vil ensemble.

Two weeks after Looking Glass hit shelves, “The Passenger” appeared as the second single, backed with the non-album Banshees original “She’s Cuckoo.” The 12″ contains an extended version of the a-side dubbed the ‘Llllloco-motion Mix‘ and a second exclusive Banshees original, “Something Blue.”

B1. “She’s Cuckoo” (4:15)
B2. “Something Blue” (3:54)

By the time they filmed “The Passenger” video, Siouxsie cut her hair into a pixie and Carruthers left the band. She appears bead-decked in a white catsuit inside a spinning diamond; intercut with scenes cavorting with Budgie and Severin, who plays her bare back like a string bass as they slow dance.

Through the Looking Glass reached No. 15 on the UK Albums Chart and went Top 30 in Sweden and Switzerland.


“Song from the Edge of the World”

On July 13, 1987, Siouxsie and the Banshees released “Song from the Edge of the World,” a standalone original backed with “The Whole Price of Blood.” The single appeared as a two-song 7″ (conventional and picture disc) and a three-song 12″ with an extended a-side and a third song, “Mechanical Eyes.”

This marked the debut of a new five-piece Banshees lineup in which veterans Siouxie, Steve Severin, and Budgie on-boarded Looking Glass arranger Martin McCarrick and ex-Specimen guitarist Jon Klein, a onetime member of Bristol synth-punks The Europeans.

A1. “Song From the Edge of the World” (3:42) The 12″ contains an extended version dubbed ‘Columbus Mix’ (7:30).
B1. “The Whole Price of Blood” (3:55)
B2. “Mechanical Eyes” (3:34)

The Banshees demoed “Song from the Edge of the World” during the Tinderbox sessions with John Carruthers. They recorded the single in May–June 1987 with veteran soundman Mike Thorne, the producer of late-seventies classics by Wire (Chairs Missing, 154) and The Shirts (self-titled, Street Light Shine) with recent credits behind B-Movie, Bronski Beat, Carmel, The Communards, The The, and ‘Til Tuesday.

In the “Song from the Edge of the World” video, Siouxsie dances in boas and Mardi Gras head-pieces against a liquid-light green screen. In one scene, she swims saturated waters (orange–green infrared) in a leopard catsuit. As in many videos of the period, the Banshees (flashed and translucent) play vigorously on a windy turnaround with eyes fixated on their instruments.


1988


Peepshow

Siouxsie and the Banshees released their ninth album, Peepshow, on September 5, 1988, on Polydor–Wonderland (UK) and Geffen (US). It contains ten group-composed songs, including the singles “The Killing Jar” and “Peek-a-Boo,” their biggest transatlantic hit.

Siouxsie Sioux wrote the lyrics to five songs and co-wrote “The Last Beat of My Heart” (the third single) with Steve Severin, who penned “The Killing Jar,” “Scarecrow,” “Turn to Stone,” and “Rhapsody.”

Peepshow is the first of three Banshees studio albums with the five piece lineup of Sioux, Severin, Budgie, and two recent recruits: ex-Specimen guitarist Jon Klein and multi-instrumentalist Martin McCarrick. This lineup held for eight years.

1. “Peek-a-Boo” (3:12) The refrain (“Golly jeepers, where’d you get those weepers? Peepshow, creepshow, where did you get those eyes?”) derives from the 1938 jazz standard “Jeepers Creepers” by Tin Pan Alley songwriters Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer, whose names appear as “Peek-a-Boo” co-writers on subsequent releases.
2. “The Killing Jar” (4:04)
3. “Scarecrow” (5:06)
4. “Carousel” (4:26)
5. “Burn-Up” (4:32)

6. “Ornaments of Gold” (3:50)
7. “Turn to Stone” (4:05)
8. “Rawhead and Bloodybones” (2:29)
9. “The Last Beat of My Heart” (4:30)
10. “Rhapsody” (6:23)

Sessions took place between January and June 1988 at London’s Marcus Studios, where Siouxsie and the Banshees co-produced the album with recurrent soundman Mike Hedges. McCarrick plays cello, keyboards, and accordion on Peepshow, which features Budgie on harmonica in addition to drums and percussive sundries.

C-More-Tone Studios designed the Peepshow cover, which has a blue-tinted partial reveal of Siouxsie with saturated gold–navy surround. The inner-sleeve features shaded monochrome mug shots of the four Banshees by German photographer Alastair Thain, whose photography also appears on late-eighties sleeves for It’s Immaterial, The Fountainhead, Pete Wylie, Thrashing Doves, Lloyd Cole & The Commotions, and John McGeoch’s Armoury Show.

“Peek-a-Boo” appeared six weeks ahead of Peepshow on July 18; backed with “False Face.” UK copies contain a cutout of the pink peekaboo mask pictured on the back sleeve.

The 12″ contains an extended “Peek-a-Boo” subtitled the ‘Silver Dollar Mix‘ (10:00) and a second non-album track, “Catwalk.”

B1. “False Face” (2:44)

B2. “Catwalk” (4:58)

The “Peek-a-Boo” video opens with high-speed animation projected on the Banshees’ faces, seen in partial reveal. The camera pans down on a blue-tinted, white-tasseled Siouxsie, who now sports a Louise Brooks-style bob haircut (recently repopularized by Swing Out Sister frontwoman Corinne Drewery). A sequence of imagery (facial cross reveals, lip closeups, flashing masks) intercuts with silhouetted scenes of the Mardi Gras backing. Severin gets his on-camera moment of glory (at 2:15) during a lineup light reveal. As the track climaxes, a pink-lighted, hypervigilant Sioux circles back-round to the camera as it creeps on her blind spot.

“Peek-a-Boo” reached No. 16 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 18 in Ireland. The video went into high rotation on MTV, which now aired ‘alternative music’ on its Sunday-night 120 Minutes program and weeknight Post Modern MTV block. With heavy club and college radio play, “Peek-a-Boo” reached No. 1 on the Billboard US Modern Rock Tracks chart, No. 14 on the US Dance Club Play chart, and No. 53 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In late September, “The Killing Jar” appeared as the second single, backed with “Something Wicked (This Way Comes)” and “Are You Still Dying Darling?” The extended 12″ a-side it subtitled ‘Lepidopteristic Mix‘ (8:07).

B1. “Something Wicked (This Way Comes)” (4:21)

B2. “Are You Still Dying Darling?” (4:42)

“The Killing Jar” video opens with grainy sand animation and proceeds with tinted monchrome facial closeups of Siouxsie and the others in motion; intercut with shaded light-reveals of her stencilled eyes and purple-tinted dance sequences that showcase her neo-1920s likeness.

“The Killing Jar” peaked at No. 2 on Billboard‘s US Modern Rock Tracks.

The third and final Peepshow single, “The Last Beat of My Heart,” appeared on November 21; backed with “El Dia de Los Muertos” and “Sunless.”

B1. “El Dia de Los Muertos” (3:38)

B2. “Sunless” (4:28)

The video for “The Last Beat of My Heart” is a grayscale clip that pans out slowly from Siouxsie’s profiled right eye. Midway, it shows her from the waist up as she leans against the light-emitting curtain walls of an unfurnished living room, where the Banshees quietly appear at the end.

Peepshow reached No. 20 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 68 on the US Billboard 200.


Discography:

  • The Scream (1978)
  • Join Hands (1979)
  • Kaleidoscope (1980)
  • Juju (1981)
  • A Kiss in the Dreamhouse (1982)
  • Nocturne (live 2LP, 1983)
  • Hyæna (1984)
  • The Thorn (EP, 1984)
  • Tinderbox (1986)
  • Through the Looking Glass (1987)
  • Peepshow (1988)
  • Superstition (1991)
  • The Rapture (1995)

Sources:

1 thought on “Siouxsie and The Banshees

  1. Original intro (2018):
    “Siouxsie and the Banshees were an English art-punk/goth-psych band from London that released nine studio albums, assorted singles, and a live double-LP on Polydor between 1978 and 1988, followed by two further discs during the 1990s. The band was initially assembled by vocalist Siouxsie Sioux and bassist Steve Havoc (later Severin) to perform the 100 Club Punk Special in September 1976. Sioux and Havoc, who later settled on the performance surname “Severin,” had been members of the Bromley Contingent, an informal group of young scenester–stylists that also included a pre-fame Billy Idol.

    The first two Banshees albums feature drummer Kenny Morrison and guitarist John McKay, who both departed acrimoniously in late 1979. During the ensuing tri-lustrum, the guitar slot was rotated between John McGeoch (Magazine, Visage), Robert Smith (The Cure), John Carruthers (Clock DVA), and Jon Klein (Specimen). The drum-seat was permanently claimed by Budgie (aka Peter Clarke), who soon became Sioux’s romantic partner. The couple formed a side-projects, The Creatures, that yielded two albums between 1983 and 1989 on self-press Wonderland.”

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