The month of October heralds change and is full of magic and mystery. The days get shorter and darkness creeps ever earlier with each day.
What better time then to release four spectacular Remasters from the pioneers of Goth – Siouxsie & the Banshees, Through The looking Glass (1987), Peepshow (1988),
Superstition (1991), The Rapture (1995) These expanded and remastered editions conclude the release of Siouxsie & the Banshees catalogue of work. The four albums in question span the final period of Siouxsie and the Banshees as a band.
Each album has been carefully polished to accentuate every individual sound as well as including bonus tracks, remixes and previously unreleased material. These are a treat for not only the diehard Siouxsie & the Banshees fans, but a fitting introduction for anyone discovering them for the first time.
It has been 19 years since their last studio album (The Rapture) and although fans have delighted in the solo albums of the respective band members, nothing compares to their collective artistry and sound. As a child of the 80s, it wasn’t until much later that I would discover Siouxsie and The Banshees via my love of punk and Goth heroes The Cure. I immediately responded to not only Siouxsie’s image but her unique and haunting vocals. Indeed my first experience of the band was of hearing their cover of the Beatles song “Dear Prudence” at the age of ten.
I soon discovered the bands love of covers and their ability to transform the songs of others. Through The Looking Glass is described as a “reimagining of songs for the blind”. Created as a reaction to their prolonged studio time on their previous album Tinderbox, Siouxsie and the Banshees made a bold collection of songs from artists who had influenced the band through their childhoods and teenage years. Siouxsie and the Banshees bring sonic justice to wonderful, well-loved pop songs and restyle them with classic Banshees flair. Aside the original album are 4 new bonus tracks the first is She Cracked. This song was a B-side from the 7” single This Wheels on Fire. Described as an ‘outtake’, it sits perfectly with the rest of the album. The next bonus track is a self-penned number – Song from the Edge of the World. This is followed by two lively remixes of album tracks – This Wheel’s on Fire and Iggy Pop’s The Passenger.
Through the Looking Glass is an amazing covers record and highly recommended as a taster for potential fans. It grabs your attention, provoking nostalgia and twisting your preconceptions of the original tracks. A year later in 1988 Siouxsie and The Banshees released their follow up album – Peepshow. A brave and experimental record, it was received extremely well, achieving the band critical and commercial success in both the UK and USA. The expanded edition has three bonus tracks – El Dia de Los Muertos (Espiritu Mix), The Killing Jar (Lepidopteristic Mix) and The Last Beat of my Heart (Live at Lollapalooza 1991). Peepshow is one of my favourite albums. Full of quirky highs and lows, it is a carnival of sounds against Siouxsie’s sultry and bewitching vocals.
The first bonus track – El Dia de Los Muertos is outstanding. Previously released on the collection of B-sides and rarities – Downside Up – here it has been remixed adding to Peep Show’s eclectic mardi gras extravaganza. The Killing Jar mix on this expanded version is its first reissue for the first time in 25 years. Still as fresh now as it was back then, it takes an already superb song and gives it numerous new layers. The final bonus track on Peepshow is The Last Beat of My Heart, live at Lollapalooza in 1991. Siouxsie and the Banshees’ success in America with this album allowed them to reach new fans across the world culminating in their performance at Lollapalooza. Here we are treated to the Banshees at their best, reviving their punk spirit and status as an amazing live band.
Superstition was released in 1991 and marks a rebirth or reinvention of the band’s sound. For this, their 10th album, Siouxsie & the Banshees recruited OMD and Pet Shop Boys producer Stephen Hague. This resulted in a melange of the band’s typical theatricality with dance driven beats. This experimentation initially divided opinion, in particular towards the lead single Kiss Them For Me. Full of exotic, otherworldly noises; critics and fans alike were shocked by the band’s new direction. By this time though, Siouxsie & the Banshees had attracted the attention of Alt-Goth director Tim Burton. A match made in heaven, he personally requested the song Face to Face for his movie Batman Returns.
The 7” version of Face to Face is featured here as a bonus track alongside two remixes of the controversial Kiss Them For Me – Snapper Mix and available for the first time – Kathak #1 mix. The final album to be given the remastering treatment is The Rapture. A culmination of 20 years of work, here it is re released almost 20 years later – brighter and better than ever. A dramatic swansong, the Banshees this time brought in the legendary John Cale as producer.
Beautiful orchestral arrangements sit side by side with driven guitars and pounding drum beats. Siouxsie’s vocals quiver and hover majestically over what only can be described as a fantastically theatrical album. Pushing musical boundaries had always been pivotal to the Banshee’s sound. The Rapture stands out against the surrounding music of the time – post grunge and the birth of Brit pop. Stand out tracks include O Baby and Stargazer. The bonus tracks here are a remix of the aforementioned O Baby (Manhattan Mix), FGM – a previously unreleased demo and a complete version of the unreleased New Skin commissioned by Dutch director Paul Verhoeven for his movie Showgirls.
As a super fan of Siouxsie & the Banshees I can truly appreciate the work that has gone into these Remasters. A crisper, crystal like sound refreshes every track and makes them sound brand new. A worthy update for the 21st Century, thrusting Siouxsie and the Banshees back into the limelight. As well as the fantastic sound, each album comes in a beautiful digipack with comprehensive liner notes. An absolute must for all fans and new listeners alike.