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2023/4 Albums Thing 356 - Siouxsie & The Banshees “Once Upon A Time/The Singles”

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Susan Ballion, Steven Bailey, William Broad and a few others were early followers of the Sex Pistols. Melody Makers Caroline Coon noticed them at Pistols gigs and dubbed them the Bromley Contingent, as that’s where some of them came from. By this time Susan had become Siouxsie Sioux, Steven was known as Steve Severin and William dubbed himself Billy Idol (after one of his school teachers had described him as idle). They all formed bands that would become the flag bearers for the first wave of Punk Rock. Billy joined Chelsea and eventually morphed them into Generation X. Siouxsie and Severin hooked up, initially, with Marco Pirroni and Sid Vicious to form Siouxsie & The Banshees to play a 20 minute spot at the 100 Club Punk Special on 20th September 1976. They had 2 days “rehearsal”, didn’t know any songs and Siouxsie recited The Lords Prayer over the band “improvising” behind her.

Thus began one of Punk’s greatest bands. By November 1977 they had replaced Marco and Sid with John McKay and Kenny Morris, appeared on Granada TV’s “So It Goes” and recorded their first John Peel session. But they were finding it hard to get a record deal. Graffiti proclaiming “SIGN THE BANSHEES” appeared across London and John Peel tried to strike a deal to sign them to BBC Records ! Finally in June 1978 they signed to Polydor Records who promised them the complete artistic control they wanted and in August “Hong Kong Garden” was released as their debut single.

This rather wonderful singles comp includes most of their A-sides from 1978 to 1981. For some reason it includes album track “Mirage” and omits A-side “Mittageisen (Metal Postcard)” in favour of its B-side “Love In A Void”. But these are minor quibbles. In that period they released 4 albums (“The Scream”, “Join Hands”, “Kaleidoscope” and “Ju Ju”) and the leap in musical progression is quite astonishing to hear. “Hong Kong Garden” was followed by the atonal, spiky pairing of “The Staircase (Mystery)” and “Playground Twist”. Less than a year later (after the Germanic/Motorik and missing from this album “Mittageisen”) they gave us psychedelic pop gems “Happy House” and “Christine”. Then just a year after that “Spellbound” and “Arabian Nights” invented Goth (I’ll leave you to decide if that was a good thing).

Siouxsie retained her ice-queen veil of mystery even though I’m certain she adorned just as many bedroom walls (girls and boys) as Debbie Harry and Gaye Advert. We all adored her but she was ever so slightly scary with it. I was lucky enough to tour the US alongside the Banshees for 6 weeks in the early ’90’s and it turns out she was OK, even though we were all on best behaviour when she was around. 

Playground Twist - https://youtu.be/kyZ0-FtNvf4?si=HonU7EvRndvkR7XI

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