Rock Sound 01/05  
  Downside Up Advert - Click Here For Bigger ScanWhilst most bands regard the B-side as an irrelevancy, a dumping ground for throwaway tracks not deemed good enough for proper release, Siouxsie And The Banshees always treated it with respect, an excuse to have fun and experiment.  Consequently this beautifully designed four CD box contains results that were often more interesting than their flipside counterparts.  So you get the splendidly poisonous Morris/McKay kiss off 'Drop Dead/Celebration',  the sensual menace of 'Tattoo', some inspired covers ('Supernatural Thing, 20th Century Boy') and rousing 'Something Wicked (This Way Comes)', alongside curios such as the Xmas hymn 'Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant', where Siouxsie sounds more chaste Catholic schoolgirl than domineering ice queen.  Best of all is the inclusion of 83's complete 'Thorn' EP, its chamber rendering of more obscure early material still ranks among their best work. 

Neil Gardner 




  Classic Rock 12/06  

The Banshees' pioneering spirit of experimentation was what always set them apart from the post-Pistols punk herd.  Their B-sides therefore were uncompromising sonic statements: the stark minimalism of Voices (On The Air), distilled hatred of Drop Dead (Celebration) and lush psychedelia of Coal Mind.  The A-sides you know, but Downside Up's three discs of B-sides - along with the string quartet-enhanced Thorn EP - flip their familiar face to show a much darker side, from whence came goth.

Courtesy of Pierrelemer



  Unknown source 2005  
  The ultimate collection of rarities from the band who epitomised the post-punk movement of the late '70s and the goth scene of the '80s.  It includes 55 tracks, 34 on CD for the first time, and a 76-page booklet.  Tracks 1-6 on Disc Two are from the Hyaena sessions with Robert Smith, and some of the other featured cuts are arguably superior to the better-known album versions.  


  Uncut 01/05  

All the Banshees' B-sides - 53 of them - collected on four CDs.

Having finally split two years ago after a difficult comeback tour, The Banshees left a formidable body of work.  Through their B-sides, Downside Up charts an alternative history of one of Britain's most cherished groups.  From the start they proved to be a far more dynamic proposition than their post-punk and goth peers and, especially during their early-'80s heyday, always relished the chance to try something new for a B-side.

Their first 'Voices', the haunting flip to 1978's debut single, 'Hong Kong Garden', sets an impressive standard, swiftly followed by a thrash through '20th Century Boy'.  The golden period, when drummer Budgie and ex-Magazine guitarist John McGeoch joined founders Siouxsie and ever-supple bassist Steve Severin, produced the tribal 'Congo Conga' and the spectral 'Cannibal Roses'.  Moonlighting from The Cure, and a good friend of Severin's, Robert Smith's brief stint as a Banshee resulted in enjoyably psychedelic studio doodles like 'There's A Planet In My Kitchen'.

Elsewhere, there are covers of 'All Tomorrow's Parties' and Ben E. King's 'Supernatural Thing', cut-up pop like 'Catwalk', and, for the first time on CD, 1984's 'The Thorn EP', for which the Banshees re-recorded B-sides 'Voices' and 'Red Over White' with a string quartet.  An exhaustive and fascinating collection from an astonishing group.  

Piers Martin 

01/ 05



  Webmaster 01/05  
  Downside Up Advert - Click Here For Bigger ScanDownside Up.  A 4 disc, 55 song, (34 of which appear on CD for the first time) chronological collection, of every Banshee B Side, remastered.  A 76 page booklet, an introduction by Mark Paytress (author of the recent official Banshees biography), a brief word from Siouxsie and individual notes for each track by Siouxsie, Budgie and Severin.

How long have we lived with these songs in one form or another?  

Finally you can throw away your dusty, crackling vinyl, distorted, hissy cassettes and overpriced badly put together bootlegs, because this is the 'Real McCoy'.

Where to start?  How about, forget everything you know and everything you've heard.  Pretend you only have a basic knowledge of the Banshees from their classic singles.  The upside to this is we can turn it all on its head and delve into the downside for the first time.

The Banshees started their recording career with the sprightly, poppy takeaway Hong Kong Garden, more pop than punk, more accessible than anyone dared dream of, and like a true Chinese Take Away, they served up the sour with the sweet on the flip side, Voices. This isn't pop its art, it's the perfect antidote, harsh, clashing guitar and Siouxsie's swooping vocal.  This is where the journey begins.  A journey that will take you almost full circle.  From the experimental, the historical, the nostalgic, the sheer joy of being free of any restrictions.

So, what is a B Side?  The A Side (topside) is generally a commercial, a preview, an introduction to the full feature, normally an album.  The B Side (downside), can be any number of things, the only restrictions being a band's imagination or creativity.

Whilst many bands take the easy route and include a remix, live favourite, or an album track, the Banshees perform the rare feat of indulging themselves and their audience.  Downside Up is not the tip of an iceberg, but the huge mass that is unseen below the waterline.  

At times the Banshees had an uncanny knack of continuing the theme, sound, or feel of a single on to it's b sides, Pulled To Bits, Eve White/Eve Black, Let Go.

The B Side became an opportunity to pay homage to influences and heroes, 20th Century Boy, She Cracked, All Tomorrow's Parties.  Revisit childhood memories, Supernatural Thing, Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant.  Push boundaries, Voices, Slap Dash Snap.  And have fun, both with themselves, their critics and their audience, Conga Congo, There's A Planet In My Kitchen.

Downside Up documents the Banshees progress as musicians, as a band and as individuals.  As important as it is to finally have this great collection of songs on an official release, equally as important is the excellent work that was involved in remastering these songs.  Everything sounds brand new, fresh and sharp.  Most impressive is probably the 2nd disc.  Disc 1 deals mainly with the rawer songs, songs recorded with less instrumentation, disc 3 deals mainly with songs that have previously been available on CD in one format or another.  Although the remastering is pristine throughout it is disc 2 and disc 4 (The Thorn E.P.) that benefit the most from remastering.  By disc 2 and the opening whoosh of Tattoo, the Banshees had augmented their sound still further and the production on these songs is superb.  Let Go, I Promise, Something Blue, all showcase a more delicate and multihued Banshees and it's possible to hear sounds, instruments, that you would swear were never there on your dusty old vinyl versions.

The 76 page booklet includes colour scans of all the 7" and 12" picture sleeves and many black and white band photos (nothing new or unseen though, sadly).  Siouxsie, Budgie and Severin share anecdotes on all songs and its makes fascinating, fun reading.

Finally, the booklet includes lyrics to all the songs (not the cover versions, unfortunately).  Time and time again you will find yourself saying, 'Yes, of course that's what Siouxsie is singing, it's makes perfect sense'.

It's been a long time coming, but through sheer determination and bloody-mindedness we finally have the much anticipated B Sides collection.  It may be called Downside Up, but frankly I can see no downside to it.



  The Times 2005  

Siouxsie Sioux first came to our attention in 1976 as a Sex Pistols acolyte who was standing behind the band during the notorious interview with Bill Grundy on the Today programme.  Yet with hindsight, her work doesn't seem to belong to punk at all.  Her debut album didn't appear until 1978, by which time untutored three chord thrashing was beginning to appear passť.  Instead, with the Banshees she helped invent a form of post-punk discord full of daring rhythmic and sonic experimentation that was as influential as it is underrated. 

Downside Up features 55 tracks spread across four discs, some of which have not previously appeared on CD.  The result is a collection that constitutes an alternative history far more revealing than a greatest hits package, for here is a group that never filled b-sides with inferior throwaway tracks.  Rather they saw them as an outlet for some their most radical and challenging work.

Standouts include the spiky Drop Dead/Celebration, the sinister Eve White/Eve Black and the chopped up industrial funk of Tattoo, tracks that prove that the Banshees stand proudly alongside PIL, Gang Of Four and The Fall as the most audacious and uncompromising musical adventurers of the post-punk era.  


Nigel Williamson



  Record Collector 12/04  
  Downside Up Virgin Megastores Advert - Click Here For Bigger ScanEver iconoclastic.  The Banshees used the B-side as an important creative outlet, mirroring or twisting themes initiated on their classic stream of singles and albums.  No throwaway tracks here then, although this definitive remastered box-set displays remarkable diversity, spontaneity and playfulness.  Theses four CDs show why they were by far the best group to come out of punk; their sense of exploration is palpable.

One of their finest b-sides was also their first.  Voices appears now freed from the murky production that marred the original, sounding more powerful than in 1978, when, with typical Banshee perversity, it's bleakness backed their first Top 10 single, Hong Kong Garden.  Another version appears here from The Thorn, an orchestrated EP of ferocious intensity, which, like many of these 54 tracks, debuts here on CD.

CD1 is the sound of a group finding itself after imploding.  The remarkably defined 1977-79 line up gives way to a less angular, broader sound, with varying results; Drop Dead/Celebration is still a wonderful explosion of bile aimed at their absconded guitarist and drummer, while Slap Dash Snap is prototype techno.  Their version of Ben E King's Supernatural Thing still baffles.  By CD2 they are firing on all cylinders, a pop group thrillingly ahead of the pack, CD3 is immaculate.

What is most apparent in this collection though is that their power, coupled with Siouxsie's image, concealed an incredible vulnerability.  Admittedly, when playing at full force, as on the largely instrumental Sunless, they seem unstoppable.  But on more reflective tracks like Sea Of Light and Let Go you feel that here is a group who could go anywhere.  Strangely denied their place at the vanguard of a defiantly blokeish rock fraternity, it's time for a drastic reappraisal.  


Murray Chalmers



  Mojo 12/04  

Though now possibly the least trendy UK punk band, in their own way the Banshees pushed out the three-chord envelope every bit as boldly as The Clash.  Kaleidoscope, their biggest-selling album, cuts an eyebrow-raisingly experimental dash by today's standards.  Here we see how that frontier-challenging bent was given freer rein still within the pressure-free environment of the flipside - and, ins some cases (Coal Mind, Shooting Sun), yielded truly A-worthy results.  The high-quality rubric was set with early nuggets like Drop Dead/Celebration, a frosty au revoir to errant Banshees, John McKay and Kenny Morris.  Bizarre mutations arose: industrial/dub/da-da (Slap Dash Snap), pre-techno ambient-funk (Quarterdrawing Of The Dog).  Some great covers, too: a goth/funk-merging take on Ben E. King's Supernatural Thing, The Modern Lovers' She Cracked, initially unrecognisable, utterly terrifying.  The strings assisted Thorn EP occupies CD4.  Overall, it's hardly a consistent listen, but full of blinding moments.  


Andrew Perry 



  Classic Rock 12/04  

Possibly by virtue of the fact that they were the very last of the first-generation punk bands to take the corporate shilling - after finally signing with Polydor in the summer of '78 - the Banshees have always retained a level of credibility superior to that of their peers.  In addition, Siouxsie Sioux's cannily contrived and iconic image of aloof, yet seductive, gothic detachment has successfully expanded the Banshees brand beyond mere musicianship.  At their very best Siouxsie & The Banshees were exceptional, yet the deliciously macabre anti-Blondie were also notoriously  patchy.  But you'd stick with them through the worst bits of 'Join Hands' and 'Kaleidoscope' because they were the Banshees: no one else was like them, and Siouxsie had charisma to spare.

Approach 'Downside Up' with no little caution however, for it's a four-disc boxed collection of Banshees' b-sides: a place where patchy becomes patchier still.  And while it does have its moments - the lush glissading rushes of 'Coal Mind'; the stark contrary minimalism of 'Voices'; the chilling schizoid fury of 'Eve White/Eve Black; and the string-enhanced experimentations of 'The Thorn EP' - 'Downside Up' is essentially aimed at hardcore Banshees anoraks (or should that be shrouds?).  


Ian Fortman