SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES - Kaleidoscope (1980)
All titles by Sioux / Severin except A3 by Sioux / Severin / McGeoch.
Bass - Steven Severin, Drums - Budgie, Guitar - John McGeoch(Magazine and Visage,PIL in the '90s), Steve Jones(Sex Pistols)
01 Happy House (3:48)
02 Tenant (3:38)
03 Trophy (3:16)
04 Hybrid (5:28)
05 Clockface (1:50)
06 Lunar Camel (3:02)
07 Christine (2:54)
08 Desert Kisses (4:12)
09 Red Light (3:20)
10 Paradise Place (4:32)
11 Skin (3:48)
Link to download:
"IF YOU KNEW SUZI...
Way back in '71 I cut a photograph out of a music paper. It wasn't a photo of a band or a singer. It was a photo of an audience. This audience was at the famous "Screen On The Green" Pistols gig. Three people stood out from the crowd - two girls and a boy.
Within the next few weeks I learned that the girls were called Debbie and Suzie and the boy was called Steve. They were part of a London crowd called The Bromley Contingent, punks who had their own scene and their own groups.
In September 1976 I went to the very first Punk Festival in London's 100 Club. On the first night, the bill was headed by the most infamous punk band - the Sex Pistols. Second on the bill were The Clash, their first gig without a fifth member.
Rumours were also running that Sid, the well known Sex Pistols fan, was going to be on stage with his own band. One band, Subway Sect, had already played a noisy set and the buzz went round that Sid was next. He was, but I was more interested in the singer - it was Suzie from my pic.
The band were called Suzie & The Banshees, the drummer was Sid Vicious and the bass player was that guy. Steve. His full name was Steve Havoc. The guitarist was called Marco. They played a twenty minute set which mainly consisted of a very bizarre version of "The Lord's Prayer", interrupted occasionally to play snippets of "Knocking On Heaven's Door" and "Twist & Shout" and all sorts of riffs and noises.
The set was loose, rough and totally chaotic. The bass player had first lifted a bass only twenty six hours earlier and the drummer had sat in on only half and hour of rehearsal. In all conventional senses, Suzie & The Banshees were a terrible group, but there was something that made them seem great.
After the 100 Club, Suzie and her Banshees disappeared. Then five months later a band called Siouxsie & The Banshees hit the scene with a manger called Nils Stevenson. Nils had joined the group as a guitarist, then decided to make use of the skills he had learned from Malcolm McLaren and became their manager.
It was obvious that the new Banshees were not the whizz-bang combo that had played the punk festival. Only Suzie (now Siouxsie Sioux) and bass player, Steve, remained. They had a powerful collection of original material and were playing almost seven nights a week.
A year later, after a few personnel changes. Siouxsie & The Banshees handed over the crown of being everybody's favourite unrecorded band. They signed to Polydor and brought out a single "Hong Kong Garden". The single charted and established Siouxsie & The Banshees status as a "real group" or as they say in the business "a force to be reckoned with".
Two albums later, in September 1979, drummer Kenny Morris and guitarist John McKay walked out on the second date of a full scale British tour. This left only Siouxsie and the original bassist, Steve Severin. This was a big blow, but it only took five months to have a new combo on the road.
That, apart from the release of the magnificent "Happy House" single, brings us to now in the Siouxsie & The Banshees story.
TONIGHT I was going to see the Banshees again. I had an interview with Siouxsie after the show and I didn't want to have to tell her that I didn't like the group. Siouxsie is known for her low opinion of the press.
After the show, including tow encores. Nils Stevenson takes me backstage to meet the group. They're all in a good frame of mind and eventually I end up in a corner talking to Siouxsie.
I ask her how much effect an audience has on their show, telling her that I had seen the show last night when she refused to play an encore because the crowd hadn't been dancing.
"Well, we always try to give 100 per cent, but it's difficult trying to put your heart and soul into a song when you're faced with a couple of hundred critics. I mean, when the audience all stand about waiting for you to make a mistake or to do something shocking it's no fun. Then if you get an audience that's out to enjoy itself you can feel it and it helps you relax.
"There was a period a while back when it must have been very trendy to go to a Banshees show. We used to get all these posers coming along and standing watching us, they'd never dance. A lot of the feeling went out of our show then. That was when I got the 'Ice Queen' tag."
Haven't the Banshees always been very fashionable? Didn't they come from the elite Bromley Contingent and start at a very fashionable time?
"No, we haven't always been fashionable. Okay, Steve and I used to be part of the Bromley Contingent, but that was only because we lived round there.
"When we went on stage that first night at the Punk Festival we weren't trying to join any movement. Originally we did it because it was fun. It sill is fun.
"The press has always enjoyed labelling us as posers. Like when we held out for so long without accepting a record deal. They said we were trying to put over a pose, that we could easily bring out records on a small independent label. We could have, but what's the use of bringing out records that aren't available everywhere?
"Our music is written as much for the young kid in Scotland who buys her records from Boots or Woollies as it is for the guy who shops in Rough Trade. Anyway, isn't it fashionable to be on a small label these days?"
What about the most recent turning point in the Banshees' career? The split last September?
"It wasn't a split! Two members of the band left. One has already been replaced, the other'll be replaced soon."
"When it happened it was the last thing we expected, especially in the sly way that they left. We had actually asked the two of them before we went on tour if they wanted to tour. We realised that they were unhappy to a degree, but when they said everything was fine we believed them."
Why do you think they left the Banshees?
"They never really acted like part of the Banshees. Both of them came into the band quite late and I think they created some tension by sticking together and putting a gap between them and me and Steve.
"We tried to make them feel more a part of the band, although we always wanted them to express themselves however they wanted musically. John was worse, maybe, because he had seen the group live before he joined. We were sure they were right for the Banshees, but as it turned out we were wrong!"
Do you ever see them now?
What are they doing now?
"I don't know. They're probably trying to be very modern. They're trying to be Eno. I don't know and I don't really care."
Is it true that "Drop Dead" was written about John and Kenny?
"No, I suppose to a certain extent, it was inspired by them, but it's not about them. I've forgotten about John and Kenny. Life must go on. Change is a healthy thing anyway!"
Change being a healthy thing, how do you think Siouxsie & The Banshees have changed?
"they started as a punk band . . .
"we have changed""We have changed, I don't really know how. When you get into a situation where you're making records things change. You have to be more organised and when more people want to hear you, you've got to tour.
"Soundwise, I think our songs now have more depth, but they're still as much Banshees songs as 'Hong Kong Garden' was."
What about 'Happy House' where did it come from? What's it about?
"Happy House" started out as a title. We wanted to call the fan club The Happy House, then I got an idea for a song. It's really just a happy song. The kind you make as you go along when you're happy, for no real reason. Y'know, when you're sitting in the bath or when you're walking home late at night."
How do you feel about bands that started at the same time as the Banshees? How do you compare yourself to them?
"D'you mean the Clash and that lot? Well, I don't really feel anything about them. I suppose they did something to keep the music scene alive, but that's about it. I don't compare the Banshees to any band. The only comparison I draw is to how good the Banshees could be."
Are there any bands about just now that you particularly like?
"I like The Cramps. They're a good band, and they're made even better by the fact that they don't take themselves too seriously. Too many groups these days want to be part of the latest craze, the latest movement - the Cramps have managed to avoid this and maintain their own identity."
Where do Siouxsie & The Banshees go from here?
"Well, at the moment there are three of us. Me, Steve and Budgie. Budgie's really fitted into the band easily. Actually, there are four of us. Nils has been with us a for a long time and works really hard for the band. The next step is for us to find a permanent guitarist then well do some tours. Maybe go to America."
Do you have anyone in mind for the new guitarist?
"No, nobody definite. Soon after Kenny and John left, someone put us in touch with Budgie and he seemed to be right for us. Guitarists are different, we've auditioned hundreds and none of them seem to have anything to offer our sound."
Siouxsie & The Banshees seem to be going through a difficult period just now. Live, they've lost a lot of their characteristic spontaneity. They're touring with a borrowed guitarist. Yet, they still manage to bring out an excellent single. Siouxsie & The Banshees have been down before and somehow managed to use it to their advantage. It looks as if they'll do the same again.
(Vincent McHardy 01/05/80 - SMASH HITS)
"In my opinion the Banshees best over all album. A perfect blend of hypnotic, rhythmic oddities and twisted, not quite "pop" songs. Kaleidoscope shows off the Banshees every strength, from Siouxsie's new-found control over her once admittedly quite out of control voice, to Severin and Budgie's continuing almost telepathetic relation as a rhythm section. A bevy of session guitarists ( from ex-Pistol Steve Jones to eventual full time, if short lived member, John McGeoch ) hold the songs together quite well, you'd never notice the ever-shifting lineup. Tight, with great production. Very highly recommended."