Siouxsie and The Banshees The Best of Siouxsie and the Banshees Review

Compilation. Released 2002.  

BBC Review

She and her fellow Banshees had the great advantage of never having been musicians...

Matt Harvey 2002

Original punks, goth inspirers, sophisticated art-poppers and, in their singer's case, fashion icons. Siouxsie and her assorted Banshees made music for two decades, then split in 1996 to avoid the inevitable punk revival. What's highlighted in thiscompilation is the fact that, like a lot of the best punk bands, they made fantastic pop singles. You can also hear how influential they were on a whole generation of 80s 'alternative' rockers.

Siouxsie Sioux was from Chiselhurst in south-east London, a member of a decadent tribe of punks known as 'The Bromley Contingent' (who included in their ranks superstar in waiting, Billy Idol). She and her fellow Banshees had the great advantage of never having been musicians - their first ever gig, at the legendary 1976 100 club punk festival, consisted of a 20-minute rendition of the Lords Prayer (complete with one note bass line). They went on to be the last of the 'original' punk bands to get a record deal, holding out for a record deal which gave them creative control over their product.

The first single, ''Hong Kong Garden'', came out in 1978. Seemingly about a Chinese take away,it still sounds as gloriously catchy as ever. In a similar vein are other early hits ''Happy House'' and ''Spellbound'' - once heard never forgotten gems that still somehow managed to maintain an air of psychedelic mystery and ambiguity (what exactly is going on in the happy house?). No wonder the crimped-haired masses were so intrigued.

As the decade wore on the band, never afraid of experimenting in the studio, began to take on a more electronic sound. The hip hop accordion music of ''Peek-A-Boo'' still sounds as fun as it did in 1988. Their music became poppier and increasingly accessible in the 90s. They even scored a top 40 US hit in '91 with the toe-tapping ''Kiss Them For Me''.

A couple of covers are included here. Their surprisingly dull version of the Beatles' ''Dear Prudence'' and Bob Dylan's ''This Wheel's On Fire'' but sadly lacking is their magnificent deconstruction of The Fab's ''Helter Skelter'', one of the greatest covers of all time.

Somehow though, this CD as a whole doesnt quite gel. Trying to cover 20 years and 11 albums of music in one sitting leads to an uneven and dissatisfying experience, not doing the band justice or representing the diversity of their output. Maybe if the band are new to you it's worth a buy, otherwise save your pennies and splash out on one of the more era-based retrospectives that are on the market. It's what they deserve.

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