Siouxsie & The Banshees
1978 was a big year for the London based Punk outfit Siouxsie & The Banshees. The group had formed a few years earlier when former waitress, Susan Dallion, became Siouxsie Soiux. Their name was inspired by the '70 Vincent Price flick, The Cry of the Banshee.
First, the group was signed by Polydor Records. A few weeks later they appeared in the film Punk Rock Movie with the Clash, Sex Pistols and Generation X. They also were filmed for Jubilee (a movie) but the clip wound up on the editing room floor.
Siouxsie & The Banshees released their debut single, the Chinese sounding, "Hong Kong Garden" which was followed by "The Scream" LP. It looked as though Siouxsie & The Banshees were unstoppable. But of course, that's just when the wheels came off. In late '79, drummer Kenny Morris and guitarist John McKay walked out only two shows into an extensive UK tour. Budgie landed on the drum stool while the Cure's Robert Smith played guitar for the remainder of the tour. Following the trek, Budgie decided to stick around but Smith returned to the Cure with John McGeoch signing on.
'81 release, "JuJu," proved to be the Siouxsie & The Banshees's most accessible effort and provided some needed traction. However, touring and personnel troubles still victimized the group.
An '82 Scandinavian tour was cancelled when Siouxsie contracted laryngitis. Later that year, the group recorded "A Kiss In The Dreamhouse." During the sessions McGeoch became ill and Smith again offered his services. Already out of action, McGeoch decided to excuse himself permanently, allegedly not liking Siouxsie's attitude. This time Smith stayed in both the Banshees and the Cure.
Siouxsie & The Banshees managed to occasionally crack the U.K. Top 20. But that was about to change in a somewhat peculiar manner. On their debut album, the Banshees recorded a stark yet dramatic cover of The Beatles' "Helter Skelter." It was nothing short of scandalous that a Punk band would cover The Beatles, the very epitome of mainstream success. Rather than back off, and admit a Punk faux pas, Siouxsie & The Banshees went back to the "White Album" in '83 to record a clamorous version of John Lennon's "Dear Prudence." The song made it to #3 on the U.K. charts, the Banshees' biggest commercial success.
Siouxsie & The Banshees early albums vault from Goth-Punk to discordant noise. Focusing on a lean Punk-pop sound, '81 release "JuJu with "Spellbound," "Into The Light" and "Sin In My Heart" shines as the group's best studio effort. The follow-up, "Hyaena," is nearly as good. It has "Dear Prudence," the effective ballad "Belladonna" and the potent "Running Town." Later releases are eclectic with only a few songs connecting. "Best Of Siouxsie & The Banshees" is a good way to get acquainted with the group. The set has "Dear Prudence" (but not "Helter Skelter"), Hong Kong Garden," and "Kiss Them For Me."