THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS - ADVERTS/REVIEWS

 
 
  Record Mirror 1987  
 
 
  Through The Looking Glass Advert - Click Here For Bigger ScanThe Banshees have turned out some monumental albums in the last 10 years, but I fear this long-awaited medley of covers could have broken the mould.  Bands say they're paying homage to their influences, but keep the let out clause - that's it's partly a sacrilegious gag - hovering safely in the background if it doesn't work.

This LP is a classic case.  It's a mixture of songs the Banshees were clearly influenced by, and some they just like.  They've risen to the challenge of making the songs 'theirs', and on the whole they succeed.

The faithful, tasteful 'I Am A passenger' should have them flocking to the record store, but Sparks' This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of us' jars; a real no-no.

Most songs have absorbed the Banshees' theatrical personality but the slower numbers definitely work best.  Haunting strings and a drunken jazz trumpet give us a sad and beautiful 'Strange Fruit' and 'Trust In Me' (from Walt Disney's 'Jungle Book') is a swirl of ethnic drums, seeping harp and sensuous vocals.

An interesting album, well worth a listen, but it's more likely to capture and convert new listeners than excite die-hard Siouxsie fans. 

3 out of 5  

Alison Higgins

 
     

 


 
 
  Melody Maker 1987  
 
 
  Through The Looking Glass Advert Click Here For Bigger ScanSiouxsie is beautiful, still beautiful enough to charm an audience and terrify her bleached husbands.  It's a special sort of beauty, perfectly narcissistic, full of self love and consequently unrivalled.  She is marvelous, unspoilt by success, still entirely insufferable, still managing to seem rather than be, making both so blurred  it's difficult not to respect her.  If not an artist then she's a very special pseud.  It's her style - she believes she knows what she is, she believes she knows what to say and she doesn't give a damn about us.  And that's stylish.

Trying to criticise her, and it is all her, is rather like trying to make up your mind whether or not you should piss on Ian Curtis' grave, knowing intellectually it's right, but feeling it instinctively to be wrong.  To piss or not to piss - that is the question.  We believe instinct is less of a lie than intellect, the the former can lead to embarrassing breakfasts, so we'll not piss.  In fact we giggled and we doubt that such innocent laughter will cause any further embarrassment.

Siouxsie has always managed to give empty threats an unnecessary depth.  That's her strength, she puts mirrors on the floor and asks you to believe you'll fall through them, or at the very least, should you look down, you'll see something very nasty indeed.  And "Through The Looking Glass", though far more elegant, has more empty threats than a dosser in a meat wagon.  All of the tracks are chosen for their very light darkness, their penumbra if you will, and their Twilight Zone mysticism - "Hall Of Mirrors", "Strange Fruit", "Sea Breezes" .... it's silly isn't it?  But it's not bad because almost any song is a suitable vehicle for Siouxsie's voice.  In fact, it has been suggested that she could make a passable album out of singing A-H in Thomson's Directory.

Other than "The Scream", Siouxsie & The Banshees have never released a "classic" album and this one follows proudly in their tradition of sublime mediocrity.  It's not so much that the singles save the albums, it's that the albums throw the singles into shinier relief.  And "Through The Looking Glass" having one single, has potentially another two, "Gun" and "The Passenger".  "The Passenger", always a great song spoiled by it's singer, is now bigger, better, more glitzy and horny and more stylishly tacky than ever before.  Is it reverent?  Is it irreverent?  No, actually it's irrelevant.

Should you be gifted with the ability to dance while you're splitting your sides then it's likely you'll enjoy this album.  Should, you be a member of the moral minority that still takes the Banshees seriously then it will come as a horrible shock because they're not taking you very seriously.  But it's too late to piss, they've already ripped it. 

The Stud Brothers

 
     

 


 
 
  Webmaster 27/10/01  
 
 
  Through The Looking Glass Advert Click Here For Bigger ScanAn idea first thought of as far back as Dear Prudence, when the Banshees first toyed with the idea of throwing together an EP of cover versions of some of their favourite songs. Maybe they had too long to think about it. Perhaps it should have remained an EP. Full albums of other people's songs, rarely get great reviews and Looking Glass was no exception. I for one think the Banshees were unfairly treated. Did they go for popular appeal, songs you knew and could sing along to? No, the Banshees were still out there forging ahead with something new. 

Unfortunately the songs that don't work on this album are where the Banshees go for a 'karaoke' style  sing a long. Little Johnny Jewel', 'Gun' and 'The Passenger', while great songs and done competently, merely sound like they replaced the original vocal track and plonked Siouxsie's voice in instead. 

Siouxsie goes full steam ahead with her vocal on 'This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us' and feels her way confidently through the song, but the music on this version is lacking. 

Where this album works best is where they have pulled the songs apart and added something new, instead of just 'Bansheefying' everything. 'Trust In Me' is a revelation, taken out of the jungle, and given a truly feline performance, the music is intoxicating. Simply magnificent and I'm sure the reason it has since been covered by many other bands. 

'Sea Breezes' is given a splendour and structure that the weak original was sadly missing, Siouxsie's strong, intoxicating vocal to the fore.

Should they have covered 'Strange Fruit'? A song already carved in stone in most people's consciousness by Billie Holiday. Siouxsie sings the song with genuine feeling, but it will never be hers. 

The band sound great on this album, a real coming together and a great wealth of instrumentation, not found on many earlier releases. 

The b sides at this time would have made a damn good mini album release of their own, but then this isn't too surprising considering they didn't have to concentrate on writing an album's worth of original material. 'Shooting Sun' & 'Sleepwalking', once again these b-sides need to be heard together as intended. 'She's Cuckoo', Siouxsie certainly sounds it has she wraps her tongue around this clever, clever lyric. 

The artwork for the album cover is uninspired, though the original die cut sleeve makes it interesting. However the single picture sleeves in their original gatefold and posterbag sleeve are stunning. 

And so to Song From The Edge Of The World; a great lost Banshees single, not included on their second greatest hits CD or video release and their lowest charted single until Stargazer came along. Not fitting into the scheme of things for either Looking Glass or its follow up. Song From The Edge Of The World is a great song, albeit generic Banshee fodder, but never the less the Banshees' doing what they do best, bringing something majestic to the pop charts, sadly sounds like they ran out of ideas when it came to the b sides though.
 
     

 


 
 
  Sounds 28/02/87  
 
 
  Through The Looking Glass Poster Click Here For Bigger ScanEven before the Banshees decided to take this stab at a "Pin Ups" collection, the question on many sane individuals lips was: "why?"  Why do they insist on hanging grimly to the hub caps of a career that's grown too big and grey and directionless for even the Banshees themselves to comprehend?  It's been a very long time since they did something worth remembering ("A Kiss In The Dreamhouse" and it's over three years since their live double debacle "Nocturne" suggested that they'd run out completely of ideas.  The final irony, really came when they resorted to filching the Cocteau Twins (long mistakenly denigrated as Banshee imitators).  This is only a postscript.  Through the Banshees looking glass, everything sounds just like, you've guessed it, the Banshees at their most tiresome and self satisfied.  What we have here is:  Sparks' squiggly "This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us", Kraftwerk's opaque "Hall Of Mirrors", The Jungle Book's (!) sinister "Trust In Me", Dylan's unremarkable "This Wheel's On Fire"  Billie Holiday's testing "Strange Fruit", The Doors' winsome "You're Lost Little Girl", Iggy Pop's strident "The Passenger", John Cale's electrifying "Gun", Roxy Music's tremulous "Sea Breezes" and Television's seminal "Little Johnny Jewel"  Got that?, Now, delete all the adjectives (bar remarkable) and imagine the Banshees slavishly imitating most of those records, adding a few of their bells, chimes and gothic trademarks.  "Looking Glass" comes across as doubly unsatisfying in the light of Nick Cave's recent deft handling of the same trick on "Kicking Against The Pricks".  Cave made it his business to clamber inside the songs he was reviving and figure out what made them tick.  Here, all the Banshees have done is save themselves the bother of hauling a jukebox to their desert island.  There are two brief deviations from the tedium that is crystallised on that awful single: their treatment of "Strange Fruit" with it's strangely affecting Dixieland funeral parade centrepiece, and their melodramatic reading of the Jungle Book classic.  But on "Gun" or "The Passenger" their lack of imagination and Siouxsie's inability to get to grips with the songs' essence renders the whole effort risible.  All is not lost, though.  Dig out the originals this album has emasculated, and you'll discover hours of listening pleasure.