Unknown source 2002  
  Siouxsie and the Banshees probably possess the most neglected back catalogue of any major band of the last 25 years.  These days, their classic albums such as Kaleidoscope and Juju languish on mid-price release (if you can find them), sorely in need of remastering and repackaging.  To add insult to injury, around 50 or so Banshees tracks have never been made available on CD.  One can only wonder how this situation was allowed to develop...

In 1995, after a tempestuous 17-year relationship, the Banshees and their label, Polydor, separated in acrimonious circumstances.  The following year, the band announced that they were calling it a day.  Siouxsie and Budgie went off to form Sioux Records and reactivated their extra-curricular outfit, the Creatures.  Steven Severin founded his RE: label.  Meanwhile, Polydor did nothing, leaving the Banshees' catalogue to wither.  Hopefully, the release of this magnificent, yet flawed, compilation will be the first step in restoring the back catalogue to its full glory.

okay, let's deal with one cliché about Siouxsie and the Banshees.  They were never a goth band.  Period.  This release confirms them as being one of British rock's premier singles bands, purveyors of quirky, perverse pop songs such as 'Happy House', 'Arabian Knights' and 'Peek A Boo', all three of which are among the gems included here.  Sadly, this perversity seemed to work against them as far as the mass market was concerned.  Between 1978 and 1995, the Banshees surprisingly only scored two Top 10 hits:  1978's debut two-chord classic, 'Hong Kong Garden' and, five years later, a cover of the Beatles' 'Dear Prudence'.  A handful more punctured the Top 20, but the majority of their releases lodged somewhere between No. 20 and 40 on the charts.  Numerous Banshees derivatives seemed far easier for most people to assimilate and fared better chartwise.  Such is the curse of true pioneers.

The Best Of Siouxsie And The Banshees is something of a misnomer.  Such a release would have to include prime album tracks such as 'Jigsaw Feeling', 'Night Shift' and 'Cascade', among others.  What the album can claim to be, however, is a superior compilation of 14 of the group's singles, plus 'Dizzy', a previously-unissued track from 1995, presumably included as bait for die-hard fans.  They shouldn't need it, as the exquisite remastering job is reason enough alone to buy the album.  And it's actually the inclusion of 'Dizzy' which reveals the album's flaw.  The track is the intriguing kind of material which, in all likelihood, would probably have appeared on the flipside of a single.  But it's been included here at the expense of stronger songs such as 'Fireworks', 'Dazzle' and 'Swimming Horses', all of which are conspicuous by their absence.  the ungenerous playing time also makes the failure of these songs to make the final tracklisting all the more inexplicable.  The album could have been even stronger than it already is.

However, the inclusion of some of the less commercially successful singles, 'Israel' (betcha didn't realise it never made the Top 40), 'The Killing Jar' and a previously unreleased mix of 'Stargazer', is more than welcome, and serves as a reminder that while those around them chased the latest trends in pursuit of the easy option, the Banshees never compromised their original principles.  They steadfastly refused to join in with the music business' idiotic games.  In the end this refusal probably cost them wider success.

A further enticement to collectors is provided by a limited-run bonus disc featuring a selection of the group's 12" remixes.  To be honest, the remix game rarely sat comfortably with the Banshee's carefully constructed, almost classical, song structures.  Most of them appeared to be little more than an aside to the main body of work, sometimes retaining very little of the group's original input viz 'Stargazer Mambo Sun Remix'.  When the remixes did succeed, the 'Peek A Boo Silver Dollar Mix', for example, it's because they remain close to the Banshees' original vision.  Best of all is the extended version of 'Spellbound', which is as exhilarating a piece of music as you're ever likely to hear.



  Uncut 2002  
  Uneven archive from recently reformed goth-punk Addams Family.

Forever in flux, the Banshees were never as innovative nor as culturally important as the post-punk peers whose members they periodically borrowed - The Slits, The Cure, PiL.  Much of the thin, angular, oddly joyless jerk-pop of their punky-tribal beginnings now grates, while portentous rumbles such as "Israel" and "Christine" simply plod.  The mid-1980s also spawned some wretched cover versions, notably a flat and sluggish "Dear Prudence".  But they pulled it together for their final post-1985 decade with high-gloss production jobs including the syncopated pneumatic beauty "Peek A Boo" and the sensual Bollywood reveries such as "Kiss Them For Me" and "Face To Face".


Stephen Dalton



  NME 2002  
  Siouxsie Sioux was thrust to national prominence in 1976, when she appeared with the Sex Pistols on the infamous Bill Grundy TV show.  That was the last time she would ride on anyone's coat-tails.  Suburban Susan reinvented herself as Siouxsie, warrior queen, dark deity and prime over behind a whole perfumed garden of hits.

And this selection is gorgeous, a quintessentially English feat of romance and imagination.  'Cities In Dust' is a great Gothic gloat.  'Peek A boo' a strutting indictment of the sex industry and 'Christine', among other fine things, a riposte to those annoying ads which ask "How come nothing rhymes with purple?"  (and answer, of course, is "turtle").


Alex Needham



  BOYZ 2002  
  Over 25 years ago, when Siouxsie And The Banshees made the first impromptu and memorable appearance at The 100 Club's infamous Punk Festival singing 'The Lord's Prayer', no-one (least of all the band themselves) would have thought they would go on to have a 20-year career creating some of the most original and exotic music around.  They did though, and in Siouxsie Sioux herself, music gained one of its most iconic female presences - a fact not lost on us gay boyz, as we found at the band's recent reunion gigs at the Shepherds Bush Empire, where almost half the audience seemed to be of a certain persuasion...

Now the Banshees have compiled some of their finest moments on this The Best Of CD, along with the new and unreleased track 'Dizzy'.  Included are their psychedelic cover of The Beatles' 'Dear Prudence', the seductive 'Face To Face', the band's stunning debut 'Hong Kong Garden' and arguably their finest track, 1988's inventive 'Peek A Boo'.  Any Banshees fan (and we know there are plenty of you reading this) won't want to miss out on this.