Friday, 13 February 2009
SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES: A PERSONAL TOP 10
Ah, that golden period when the likes of The Clash, The Jam, SLF, The Lurkers, The Adverts and many more unleashed wave after wave of vital vinyl by day and moved and grooved by night at concert halls up and down the country. Siouxsie And The Banshees certainly delivered the goods via records and gigs, with the dark-haired diva starting out as unseen legend and blossoming into probably Punkdom's finest voice. The early days were littered with ever increasing demand for some enterprising record company to get them to sign on the line that is dotted ('Siouxsie And The Banshees: sign them up. Do it now!' scrawled on the Marquee club wall is a lasting memory), and when their debut album was released, The Scream exceeded my own high expectations and remains one of the finest album debuts of its period. Live, The Banshees were usually awesome, whether John McGeogh or Robert Smith were working their own brand of magic, and the 14 gigs I saw them play included those 2 nights at London's Royal Albert Hall, and a gig at Nottingham where Sioux - one of her legs encased in plaster - started whacking some over-zealous bouncers/ thugs with one of her crutches, joined by Sev who proceeded to do pretty much the same thing with his bass guitar. Any regulars from Derby's Ajanta and Rainbow club will doubtless recall a bright young thing who used to attend gigs. She was the absolute double of Sioux, and apart from odd sightings in Wardour Street's Ship pub, that was as close as I got to this living legend. Of course, The Banshees comprised some wonderful musicians: Severin on bass, Budgie on drums - who I'd first seen pounding the skins for The Slits - and the aforementioned guitar magicians. If you'd like to read my tribute to the late, great John McGeoch you'll find it here
I've been turning over my own choices for a Banshees top 10, and you'll find them below. Feel free to add your own in the comments section. I found this a supremely difficult task when faced with so many classics. Not in order of preference, as that would have been a bridge too far.
1/ Hong Kong Garden. Their stunning declaration of intent, and solid confirmation that we had a live one here.
2/ Israel. For me, this was their anthem, with Sioux's vocals swooping and soaring over the inspired backing. Close to heaven.
3/ Metal Postcard. 'Reunion begins. With a glass of mercury'. Always think of Hooper's chain saw when I hear this.
4/ Happy House. Sublime guitar. Good enough to bring you to tears? Almost.
5/ Switch. Back to The Scream again. Perfect union of guitar, bass and drums, with Sioux building up tension until the storm hits. Wonderful!
6/ Arabian Knights. From the glorious Juju album. 'I heard a rumour. What have you done to her'. How this didn't make number one is still a mystery to me.
7/ Helter Skelter. A frenzied, pulse-pounding assault on the senses. Fab four? Yes, they were.
8/ Night Shift. Another one from Juju. This time, we get a vinyl horror movie, and an onstage nightmare.
9/ Placebo Effect. From that 'difficult' second album. A simply mesmerising account of charlatan faith healing.
10/ Playground Twist. One of their best singles, and another one from Join Hands. Twisted nursery rhyming, and killer guitar.
More top tens to follow.