|THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS - THE FILE|
|PHASE FOUR ISSUE FOUR||ARTICLES|
|PHASE FIVE ISSUE ONE & TWO||ARTICLES|
|WHEELS ON FIRE THE VIDEO|
OCTOBER... during various meetings with
video director CLIVE RICHARDSON the group exchanged ideas... in an
effort to avoid interpreting the songs title too literally... the ideas revolved
initially around a circus theme... wheels metamorphosing into circus
tents with lots of basic turning imagery... but that got dismissed
somewhere along the line in favour of filming the sensation of being out
of control... charging along... horse drawn carriages... all motion...
NOVEMBER 10th 9.30 a.m. and we headed west out of London towards the depths of the Berkshire countryside... the radio murmured unmemorable music and the weatherman promised rain... the perfect climate for outdoor filming... I don't think. On arrival at the FOXHILL STABLES (they actually supply specially trained horses that are constantly used in all the major British TV shows... and their carriages are used for the Dracula movies etc)... we were greeted by its friendly occupants and surrounded by cats and dogs of every breed... but what of the horses?.. While someone conjured up breakfast we adjourned to the location to meet the film crew and DUMPTY and CORNET... the magnificent black steeds that were to charge about with our heroes on board.. Acquaintances made it was back to the stables for some nose - bag... and while the group made-up I swallowed a belly full of black coffee in preparation for the threatened cloudburst. Faces on and suitably attired it was time for action. Back on location... the horses and carriage was stationary... a gleaming vision in purple... black and turquoise. The caped coachman boarded... his black masked face expressionless. A few softly spoken commands... a motion of the reins and the wheels turned towards the track. Enter Sioux... wearing an ensemble pilfered from the wardrobe of Cruella DeVille... the villainess with a taste for draping herself with freshly flayed Dalmatian... but don't worry dear reader... Sioux's creation is FAKE FUR... visually perfect for the video but murder to keep out of the mud. So it was... that after a trial run down the track the carriage wasn't quite so gleaming. It sped this way... then that and as the wheels churned mud on the outside... Sioux sat in all her splendour on the inside... that was until she chose to tilt her fur encased face out of the window... SPLAT!... 'okay Steve... take your position...' the commanding words of director Clive and the Banshee Boys were introduced to the action... one by one... Steve waited amongst the undergrowth... and waited... and waited... and... the sound of approaching hooves indicated his wait was over... the carriage slowed down (but didn't stop)... the door flew open and Steve stumbled in aided by Sioux... not the most graceful of boardings but it was a bit more difficult than hopping on a 283 to Hammersmith. Budgie and John fared no better on their first attempts... everyone on board collapsed into laughter as each Banshee was dragged on board... the video was proving to be fun with a capital F. Eventually sufficient 'pick - up' footage was 'in the can'... the horses rested and the crew and group adjourned for ploughman's or Chilli... mmm. During the break a rather extraordinary character entered the picture. The crew's equipment and vehicles were parked in the drive way of a woman who's lived alongside the film location... aside from the bushes there aren't a great deal of public conveniences in the countryside... so the woman kindly allowed everyone the use of her toilet (and kitchen when it came to making coffee as the night drew in)... that was all those that didn't mind running the gauntlet with her two over amorous Great Dane dogs. Sioux was in feline heaven and everyone who met the marvelous old woman took an instant liking to her and her attitude to life... as she wallowed in her self confessed senility while grinding bones and fresh flesh to feed the multitude of moggies... 'I don't mind telling you how old I am... but please don't ask me to start counting my cats'... the world is a better place for people like her. The day rapidly became night and filming moved down the lane to the local ford... where it was discovered that since the location had been chosen... the level of water dividing the road had risen due to recent rainfall. Mellisa (Producer) meticulously submerged stones and gravel to ease the run for the horses and carriage. The resulting disturbance of the water angered two anglers who eventually (after turning the night air blue with insults) took their leave with their rods between their legs. It suddenly became very eerie as arch lights illuminated the surrounding foliage and ford... imagine you're in a pitch black room and the only source of light is that of a fridge with it's door open... that's what the carriage had transformed into. Fortunately no one took an early bath... then it was back to the original location while the horses went back to the stables for some well earned nose - bag. Rested and fed they returned and The Banshees clambered back aboard the mobile fridge for more of the same shots... only this time under the cloak of darkness. What had happened to the promised rain?... no complaints. Occasionally a motorist happened onto the filming... and their journeys temporarily halted as they were forced to witness the steam snorting steeds careering through the undergrowth urged on by the whip wielding coachman... the passengers looked on curiously. The hours had flown and although Clive's head was still spilling out ideas for additional shots... all there remained time for was a lip synching Siouxsie. 10 p.m. and time to seek solace and to become the conversation point for many a winter night to come... in the local pub... 'time gentlemen please'... and guess what?.......... the heavens opened and an almighty storm broke... what timing..........
For four hors on both NOVEMBER 10th and 11th... the group entered PINEAPPLE DANCE STUDIOS and aided by choreographer BEYHAN... the chaps were guided through a series of leaps and rolls and made to get active... get physical and work their bodies... eventually settling for motions that they felt most comfortable performing. Sioux used her own natural movements which Beyhan helped her to refine and define in order to accentuate the best elements of those movements. Thursday 13th 9.30 a.m. and it's raining... the nause merchant cab driver took Budgie and I on an unwanted guided tour of Greenford in search of GRIPHOUSE STUDIOS... the location for day two of the 'shoot'. Sioux was first to merge from the dressing rooms clad in mock Dalmatian... she climbed onto a pedestal... click... around it turned... 'cue playback'. If your memory serves you well...' a vision of feline grace.. ha.. ha.. not so the chaps... instruments in hand they turned and wobbled... but their concentration prevented any of them coming a cropper... the real fun was yet to come. First the chaps performed death defying leaps through the air and on each other... then they regressed to those best (or not) daze of primary school... ' right children... down on the coconut matting and roll around like worms'... laugh?.. I nearly lost consciousness... especially when Sioux changed her ballet pumps for stilettos and proceeded to step over and in-between the rolling Banshee 'worms'... dangerous stuff... 'now Caruthers make like a mule'... bent double John wore a brave face as he transported a flailing Sioux across the studio... not once... but again and again and... Running sdrawkcab... Sioux donned a leather mask... was carried through the air by Steve and John and into Budgie's arms to be twirled to the ground. More acrobatics... then on to the full group performance with instruments... sadly I doubt you'll get to see Steve and John's Hendrix tongue and raised axe-hero posturing... and Sioux leaping on to the drum riser snatching spare Budgie bashers and accompanying him for the cacophonous finale... mega... but who knows. I did say this was a fun video... one take... print it. Then there was a slight set back... after various attempts to get a wind machine blown bunch of multi coloured table clothes to resemble the top of a twirling Bedouin tent was aborted... the material was slashed to provide Sioux with handfuls of multi coloured ribbons to whirl and twirl. The wind machine provided a suitable wind swept effect... and the chaps put the remaining table clothes over their heads and ran around Sioux in gay abandon (more for the cutting room floor I fear)... 'we're coming to get you...' The mood changed from the frivolity of flailing ribbons to the eeriness of 'The Evil Dead'... the lights dimmed and Sioux fondled and eternally lit perplex dome... the effect increased when smoke was pumped into the dome... 'we're coming to get you'... Another mood change... light the blue torch paper at arms length and retire to a safe distance... everyone complied... except Sioux... who had to face the camera while colourful Catherine Wheels spat sparks behind her head... sometimes... some of them proved to be the proverbially damp squibs. As the smoke and the sulphurous smell cleared... huge wooden wheels were rolled in and the group practiced a few preliminary spins... action... spin those wheels... as the stark lighting cast colossal shadows Sioux prowled to the playback... while the Banshee Boys ducked... dived and disco jived... until one of them (who shall remain nameless) flipped up and out... toppling one of the wheels from its mounting... BONK... smack on top of Budgie's head... 'everything was going great... then I got hit with a wheel... which may or may not be in the final cut... the final cut's in my cheek... I got a hefty whack in the back of my ear... my head was on fire'... CUT... sadly filming reached an abrupt end... fate had cheated us out of the sight of Sioux flailing a flaming ball of fire around her head... such is life........
So fingers crossed... maybe this video will get the mass media saturation that the group's past videos deserved but never got... wait and watch those cathode rays...
Billy 'Chainsaw' Houlston
|THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS|
...brought to you via the informative
pages of Budgie's diary... the 'cover versions' album... the result of
the group sifting through their personal record collections...JULY 27th
1986 into the ABBEY ROAD recording studios to make a start on their
first track WHEELS ON FIRE (written by Bob Dylan and Danko but made
famous in the 1960's by Julie Driscoll)... an unsatisfactory start...
with the results indicating the song wasn't going in the desired
direction... 28th recorded three backing tracks... GUN (written by John
Cale and featured on his album Fear)... THE PASSENGER (written by
Pop/Gardiner and featured on the Iggy Pop album Lust For Life) and
LITTLE JOHNNY JEWEL (written by Tom Verlaine and Lloyd)... a 'live' take
which stayed intact right through until the end of recording...
29th did rough mixes of the previous days work to get a prospective on
what had been recorded... much more like it... things were definitely
rolling in the right direction now... AUGUST 1st guitar tracks
were recorded and at 7pm the group were joined by two brass players...
PETE THOMS and LUKE TUNNEY (who had both previously worked with Siouxsie
and Budgie (as The Creatures) when they recorded the Right Now single)
on GUN and THE PASSENGER... at 4pm the string section arrived... MARTIN
McCARRICK (cello)... GINI BALL (violin) and JOCELYN POOK (viola) and
added their touches to LITTLE JOHNNY JEWEL... 3rd Siouxsie put vocals on
THE PASSENGER after which... rough mixes of everything recorded were
made prior to the group taking a few days out of the booth(s) to
rehearse further contenders for inclusion on the album... It was a
pattern adhered to throughout the recording... not knowing exactly which
songs would eventually appear on vinyl... If a song worked well in
rehearsal then it was taken a step further in the recording
studio... 5th during one such song searching rehearsal Siouxsie
sat down... pulled out and played some of her desert island discs...
Some made it like SEA BREEZES (written by Brian Ferry and featured on
Roxy Music's 1st album) and SHE CRACKED (written by Jonathon Richman
from the album The Modern Lovers)...... others didn't like ONLY AFTER
DARK (Mick Ronson)... 8th rehearsed another of Siouxsie's suggestions
YOU'RE LOST LITTLE GIRL (written by The Doors and featured on their
Strange Days album)...11th recorded drums...bass guitar and some vocals
on SEA BREEZES and TRUST IN ME (performed by the snake with the
psychedelic state from the soundtrack of the Walt Disney movie The
Jungle Book)... Initially the drums were recorded... if during playback
they have the desired feel and character then they're kept and as the
rest of the instruments are recorded and played back accompanied by the
existing drum track... it may be decided a bass or guitar part could be
done with a different kind of sound... more often than not the guitar...
which could then be layered in a different way so that it becomes a
guide for the tune... Whereas normally a vocal would be the guide
for a tune... as they're usually recorded after the instrumental backing
track this isn't so... Siouxsie's been known to achieve the
desired vocal on the first 'live' take and it remains son on the end
recording... 12th and WHEELS ON FIRE is still being 'played
with'...reversed drums were tried but they didn't get very far... 13th
the majority of the day was spent recording YOU'RE LOST LITTLE GIRL...
by the end of which they'd produced a drum track and Martin McCarrick
had recorded the piano accompaniment... 14th further piano on YOU'RE
LOST LITTLE GIRL... vocals on THE PASSENGER... Certain parts were
reworked and a decision was made to scrap the original and rerecord
WHEELS ON FIRE... 20th Siouxsie recorded the vocals of STRANGE FRUIT
(written by Allam but made famous by the late great Billie Holliday)
unaccompanied (which is what we hear on vinyl as the melody line) a
cassette of which was given to Martin... who took it way and returned
with a string arrangement to follow Siouxsie's chosen pitch... The music
was built entirely around the powerful vocal of the poems lyrics... 21st
back into rehearsals and at the mention of 1970's hitmakers SPARKS...
Steven produced virtually every album they'd ever recorded... out of
which THIS TOWN AIN'T BIG ENOUGH FOR THE BOTH OF US (written by the Mael
brothers and their first single hit in the UK) was chosen... 26th
recorded drums and guitar for a rethought WHEELS ON FIRE and steamed
straight through a recording of THIS TOWN AIN'T BIG ENOUGH FOR THE BOTH
OF US... 27th recorded strings on WHEELS ON FIRE... big bass drum...
strings and brass on STRANGE FRUIT on which the brass section originally
played the song 'straight' but something seemed to be missing... so they
were requested to imagine that they were forty years older than they
actually are and staggering bourbon soaked down a New Orleans street on
route from a wake... Hint taken... the result was perfect!... In
the small hours before snatching some sleep... the group worked out how
they'd tackle HALL OF MIRRORS (written by Huetter, Schult and Schneider
and featured on the Kraftwerk single (b-side of The Model?) of the same
name)... 28h JULIE ALISS played harp on HALL OF MIRRORS... TRUST IN ME
and WHEELS ON FIRE... to which Steven played bass... 29th recorded bass
on HALL OF MIRRORS... bass and vocals on YOU'RE LOST LITTLE GIRL and
vocals on WHEELS ON FIRE... By this point Siouxsie was recording two
vocals each day... SEPTEMBER 1st (the twentieth day of recording)
recorded drums and additional 'breaking glass' percussion on HALL OF
MIRRORS... Huge panes of glass were 'miked up' in Abbey Roads biggest
studio... someone climbed the forty/fifty feet in the air and onto the
roof... then dropped a weight on to the glass... the smashing results
were recorded and sampled... Siouxsie recorded vocals for STRANGE
FRUIT... 2nd percussion was put on STRANGE FRUIT and a vocal on HALL OF
MIRRORS... 3rd recorded drums for THIS TOWN AIN'T BIG ENOUGH FOR THE
BOTH OF US and guitars for it and YOU'RE LOST LITTLE GIRL... then vocals
for TRUST IN ME... 4th recorded guitar for WHEELS ON FIRE and also put
Selina strings on it and SEA BREEZES, YOU'RE LOST LITTLE GIRLS and HALL
OF MIRRORS... ending the session with piano on THIS TOWN AIN'T BIG
ENOUGH FOR THE BOTH OF US... 5th recorded big drum and tambourine on
YOU'RE LOST LITTLE GIRL then basically reviewed the percussion, breaking
glass, vocoded - congas, timbalis, cowbells, car door slams on THIS TOWN
and additional effects... 6th took a deserved break from the studios to
start organising the WHEELS ON FIRE video... 8th John recorded Sergio-Leoni
style guitar on HALL OF MIRRORS (it was the twenty fourth day of
recording and the eleventh day of rehearsals so far)... 9th recorded
bass for THIS TOWN to which Siouxsie added vocals... then vocals on SEA
BREEZES... there was a break from the studios until 22nd when the group
started mixing WHEELS ON FIRE but chose to leave it unfinished
overnight... 23rd returned to finish it on 24th followed by a mix of
TRUST IN ME (Budgie Steven and John took leave to they could
put in brief appearances at the Electric Ballroom... the venue for the
Siouxsie & The Banshees 10th anniversary convention)...25th Steven's
birthday and the finishing mix of TRUST IN ME... 26th although making a
late start due to the previous nights revelry... THE PASSENGER mix was
strated but finished the same night... Took the weekend off... returning
on 29th to start and finish mixing GUN and started to mix THIS TOWN and
so you can see a pattern had emerged and continued to the albums
completion... 2nd finished mixing THIS TOWN and started on LITTLE JOHNNY
JEWEL... 3rd continued and completed the mix of LITTLE JOHNNY JEWEL
after which Budgie did some overdubs (i.e: temple block, tambourine,
crocodile snap, claves and big gong) on SEA BREEZES just to touch up the
very end of the recording... He'd bided his time to see if at the end of
the day the song still called out for his initial idea (or not)...
having waited he still decided the percussion needed to go... 6th
started and finished the SEA BREEZES mix then set up STRANGE FRUIT for
likewise treatment... 7th finished STRANGE FRUIT and did a remix of
TRUST IN ME and YOU'RE LOST LITTLE GIRL because nobody was quite happy
with the way they were sounding... The remix session stretched into the
late hours of that evening... until eventually they all agreed that the
album THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS was as complete as it was ever going to
be... It was a fulfilled bunch of Banshees that left the studio all
Billy 'Chainsaw' Houlston
|THE PASSENGER VIDEO|
18th February commenced the first of
three days work on THE PASSENGER VIDEO directed by Clive Richardson...
filming nighttime neon and street/traffic inserts... 19th construction
work began on the 'stars come out at night' set and a huge Perspex
swinging contraption at Bell Studios in Middlesex... 20th at the early
hour of 9am the group arrived at Bell Studios to film their contribution
to the video... the majority of which (initially) had the ever agile
Siouxsie suspended and swinging as she mouthed the lyrics from inside a
huge Perspex construction that revolved dizzily against a 'back-lit'
night sky of stars. Steven danced a bass string tango with
Siouxsie then both linked arms with Budgie to stride and sway
intermittently spot lit by passing car headlight beams... performed the
playback with their instruments as a trio... Budgie videodrome stretched
against fleshy rubber and beat out a paint splatter rhythm... gleaming head-dressed
Siouxsie juggled and disrupted metallic balls gazing through Perspex...
which was then used to distort and uglyfy the film crew (and I)...
Before anyone realised... it was 3am... everything needed was filmed and
suddenly everyone started grinning inanely in the direction of the giant
inflated 'Fido' weather balloons... bounced them out into the night and
released them for the possible sighting by local UFO spotters?
Billy 'Chainsaw' Houlston
|BUDGIE'S TOP TEN|
"... these are the records I use
to play all the time when I was knee high to our dog (somewhere between
the ages of 5 and 25)... definitely where I started in life..."
PIANO TUNERS BOOGIE - WINIFRED ATWELL
"... an old 78 rpm record I've still got somewhere... though there's a piece missing out of it now it's still playable... When I was a kid we had a wind-up gramophone... It was the record I played all the time... I liked it because the record used to spin round really fast and go (recreates the sound of the needle on a crackly old record)... my liking for the record has as much to do with what it was being played on as what the record was. The b-side was 'Poor People Of Paris'... she used to whistle just one note... I use to think... she sounds really mad..."
WITH HER HER HEAD TUCKED UNDERNEATH HER ARM - STANLEY HOLLOWAY
(remember the Banshees' on 'Play At Home' and Budgie's rendition of 'Stanley Holloway's 'Albert and the Lion'?... same person). "... because it contains the line... 'she walks that bloody tower'... the word 'bloody' use to be a swear word when I was a kid... It was probably in the same box as Winifred Atwell with big (once more recreates ancient crackly scratch noises)..."
OH PRETTY WOMAN - ROY ORBISON
"... I remember watching Top Of The Pops and seeing this bloke with shades on in a really crummy film of mini-skirted girls walking up and down in front of the camera... It was the combination of the guitar sound and the image... it seemed like a very rude song to me..."
GROOVIN' WITH MISTER BLOE - MISTER BLOE
"... an instrumental... it had harmonica on it... I think that's where I first heard harmonica... Probably sounds awful now... but it sounded good then..."
THE BURNING OF THE MIDNIGHT LAMP - JIMI HENDRIX
"... just a beautiful melody... classical... a beautiful thing... I could just listen to that first phrase going round and round without any words coming in almost..."
AMERICAN WOMAN - THE GUESS WHO?
"... it reminds me of stock car racing in Kirby (the same way that Norman Greenbaum's 'Spirit In The Sky' reminds me of riding the waltzers at fairgrounds in St. Helens)...this record was always playing... although I didn't know what it was it really fitted all the cars being continually smashed up... demolition derby... I'd never seen anything like it... It was really scary for me because I was still quite young then... being out with the big lads and all the noise of motor bikes and heavy cars... everything was really heavy duty... This record seemed dead aggressive then (the guitar sound coming out of the tannoy speakers around the track sounded really tinny)... it all seemed to fit... really fab..."
LOW RIDER - WAR
"... I heard this record in pubs later on... but I remember when it was released thinking there was nothing in the song... it all sounded like one note... that was the beauty of it... It hardly lifted or went up and down... like the (low rider) cars themselves. it crawls along... one of those things that go along but hardly move... that kind of 'dat' sounding cow bell... it's all on the off beat... once it starts it doesn't stop... it's a driving song... I suppose I've got a fixation... I dream about driving... one day probably when I learn to drive I'll lose it and the recurring dream... I'll stick to my bicycle for now" (Budgie has since passed his driving test... I'll have to check on those dreams)...
BURLESQUE - FAMILY
"... it's just a strange sound... I listened to it again recently and it sounded awful... I couldn't believe how badly it was recorded... but Roger Chapman had a really strange voice... he could get away with sounding like he'd swallowed a load of glass and then singing into the microphone... The sounds on the record sound pretty ordinary now... but then they sounded really discordant and daft... it didn't sound like a regular record (most of these songs sounded a little bit barmy... I think Winifred Atwell would have liked this one)... the arrangements sounded really mad... I'm only saying this in hindsight... it's only now that I can put it all together...
T.REX - RIDE A WHITE SWAN
"... because it was just glorious... it was like the simplest thing I'd ever heard... it seemed like one day it wasn't there then it was way up in the charts... I'd never heard a voice like it and became a Marc Bolan fan from then (for the next couple of years anyway)... it was so wonderful I actually wanted to get a guitar and go (sings the lead guitar refrain)... good b-sides as well..."
THE UPSETTERS - RETURN OF DJANGO
"... first record I ever bought I think... I saw Pans People dancing to it on Top Of The Pops... I couldn't believe the saxophone... at the time I wasn't sure it was a saxophone... suddenly I realised I liked instrumental things... I didn't even know the type of music it was... it didn't matter to me... that was brilliant... I went out and was really proud I'd got this Trojan (the record's label) record... wrote my name on the label... I thought that I'd discovered it... that's what was all important then... Then it was used for a Cadbury's Fruit and Nut chocolate advert... I thought that was great because I didn't think a lot of people had heard it before then... so I use to go around telling people... you know what that is?... it's Return Of Django by The Upsetters..."