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Rock - Released January 1, 2006 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

One of the band's masterworks, Juju sees Siouxsie and the Banshees operating in a squalid wall of sound dominated by tribal drums, swirling and piercing guitars, and Siouxsie Sioux's fractured art-attack vocals. If not for John McGeoch's marvelous high-pitched guitars, here as reminiscent of Joy Division as his own work in Magazine, the album would rank as the band's most gothic release. Siouxsie and company took things to an entirely new level of darkness on Juju, with the singer taking delight in sinister wordplay on the disturbing "Head Cut," creeping out listeners in the somewhat tongue-in-cheek "Halloween," and inspiring her bandmates to push their rhythmic witches brew to poisonous levels of toxicity. Album opener "Spellbound," one of the band's classics, ranks among their finest moments and bristles with storming energy. Siouxsie's mysterious voice emerges from dense guitar picking, Budgie lays into his drums as if calling soldiers to war, and things get more tense from there. "Into the Light" is perhaps the only track where a listener gets a breath of oxygen, as the remainder of the album screams claustrophobia, whether by creepy carnival waterfalls of guitar notes or Siouxsie's unsettling lyrics. "Arabian Nights" at least offers a gorgeously melodic chorus, but after that the band performs a symphony of bizarre wailings and freaky imagery. As ominous as the cacophony is on its own, close attention to Siouxsie's nearly subliminal chants paints a scarier picture. A passage such as "I saw you...a huge smiling central face with eyes and lips cut out but smiling and eating lots of other lips" doesn't exactly brighten one's day. Siouxsie is full of such quips throughout the album's running time, but her delivery packs as much punk as her message. Her attack-the-world dynamic range on "Voodoo Dolly" predates and out-weirds Björk's similar styling years later. McGeoch, Budgie, and bassist Steven Severin deserve just as much credit for crafting an original sound that would inspire a diverse group of future bands from Ministry to Placebo. All the while, producer Nigel Gray maintains the sense that the album is an immediate, edgy performance unfolding right in front of the listener. The upfront intensity of Juju probably isn't matched anywhere else in the catalog of Siouxsie and the Banshees. Thanks to its killer singles, unrelenting force, and invigorating dynamics, Juju is a post-punk classic. © Tim DiGravina /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2005 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

After building up an intense live reputation and a rabid fan base, Siouxsie and the Banshees almost had to debut with a stunner -- which they did, "Hong Kong Garden" taking care of things on the singles front and The Scream on the full-length. Matched with a downright creepy cover and a fair enough early producing effort from Steve Lillywhite -- well before he found gated drum sounds -- it's a fine balance of the early band's talents. Siouxsie Sioux herself shows the distinct, commanding voice and lyrical meditations on fractured lives and situations that would win her well-deserved attention over the years. Compared to the unfocused general subject matter of most of the band's peers, songs like "Jigsaw Feeling," "Suburban Relapse," and especially the barbed contempt of "Mirage" are perfect miniature portraits. John McKay's metallic (but not metal) guitar parts, riffs that never quite resolve into conventional melodies, and the throbbing Steven Severin/Kenny Morris rhythm section distill the Velvet Underground's early propulsion into a crisper punch with more than a hint of glam's tribal rumble. The sheer variety on the album alone is impressive -- "Overground" and its slow-rising build, carefully emphasizing space in between McKay's notes as much as the notes themselves, the death-march Teutonic stomp of "Metal Postcard," the sudden near-sunniness of the music (down to the handclaps!) toward the end of "Carcass." The cover of "Helter Skelter" makes for an unexpected nod to the past -- if it's not as completely overdriven as the original, Siouxsie puts her own definite stamp on it and its sudden conclusion is a great moment of drama. It's the concluding "Switch" that fully demonstrates just how solid the band was then, with McKay's saxophone adding just enough of a droning wild card to the multi-part theatricality of the piece, Siouxsie in particularly fine voice on top of it all. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Rock - Released November 12, 2002 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

The Best of Siouxsie and the Banshees is a decent look into the eclectic world of Siouxsie Sioux. The band, however, really didn't need to release another hits collection. Once Upon a Time: The Singles (1981) and Twice Upon a Time: The Singles (1992) are comprehensive enough to stand alone. Universal aimed to make this a stylish set with glossy favorites such as "Dear Prudence," "Peek-a-Boo," and "Spellbound," but lesser-known classics like "Candy Man" and "Dazzle" are missing. © MacKenzie Wilson /TiVo
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Rock - Released August 1, 1980 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

After Join Hands, guitarist John McKay and drummer Kenny Morris departed the Banshees, leaving the band at a crossroads. Siouxsie Sioux and Steven Severin elected to soldier on with ex-Slits drummer Budgie and two guitarists, ex-Sex Pistol Steve Jones and John McGeoch of Magazine as guest Banshees. Despite the personnel upheaval, the result is a surprisingly strong record: Kaleidoscope. While a number of the songs here are still dark-hued and feature bleak lyrics, they are made very palatable by extraordinarily imaginative production values featuring intricate synthesizer-flecked arrangements; psychedelic touches in "Christine," spaceship synthesizer swoops in "Tenant," and rhythmic camera clicks in "Red Light" all enliven their respective songs. Sound quality here is lighter and much clearer than on previous releases. Sioux's singing shows noticeable improvement here, still tuneless at times but also exhibiting more range and subtlety than previously. The song "Hybrid," a Joy Division-style number, shows her vocals running the gamut from primitive to inspired. Other highlights include the galloping, vibrant up-tempo number "Skin," the spooky and atmospheric "Lunar Camel," the medium-tempo rocker "Trophy," and the punky vocalise "Clockface." Kaleidoscope was a make-or-break album for Siouxsie and the Banshees, and happily the band came through strongly. © David Cleary /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2009 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Tinderbox is the most musically up-tempo of all Siouxsie and the Banshees' albums and the most stylistically consistent one since The Scream and Join Hands. Most of the selections here feature urgently rocking drumming, drivingly aggressive yet fully textured guitar playing, and masterful, gutsy singing. The songs here are intense and unfold slowly, some starting off less vigorously but becoming hard rockers further along. There is of course a fine line between consistency and lack of contrast, but this album stays firmly on the side of the former; in fact, there's a certain satisfying feel to the musically uniform wall of sound here. The arrangements are less complex than in immediately preceding albums, but there are still plenty of subtle, effective production touches to be found throughout, most notably in the song "Cannons." "Cities in the Dust," a dance-pop number with a bell-like synthesizer opening section, stretches the above-mentioned boundaries the most, though typically bleak lyrics keep this selection from any sense of vacuity. This excellent release is well worth purchasing. © David Cleary /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2009 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Rock - Released January 1, 2014 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

The switch to Yet Another Banshees Guitarist in Specimen vet Jon Klein might have been seen as a cue for a time of tentative rebuilding -- the more so because another new member, cellist Martin McCarrick, was recruited at the same time. Anything but -- heralded by the spectacular "Peek-A-Boo," interpolating what sounded like the Charleston into hip-hop rhythms with a brilliant, choppy arrangement, Peepshow proved the band's best album in years. Once again showcasing the band's ace in the hole -- the ability to always provide an accomplished variety of sound and approach while still recognizably maintaining a uniquely Banshees style -- Peepshow is the sound of a band reenergized. Siouxsie's thrilling call and response with herself on "Peek-A-Boo" really can't be beat, but her star turns throughout the album all deserve notice, especially with the bravura one-two conclusion of the stately "The Last Beat of My Heart" and the dramatic, lives-up-to-the-title "Rhapsody." McCarrick's cello work is excellently integrated into the music, adding a purring extra bite on songs like the pummeling "The Killing Jar," while both Steven Severin and Budgie acquit themselves well as always. If their moments of total flash are subsumed for the overall arrangements, it's to the benefit of the songs, overseen with another fine production job from semi-regular Banshees studio cohort Mike Hedges. The band's knack for a combination of title, lyric, and atmosphere remains strong -- "Carousel" sounds indeed like a slightly demented version of such a thing, while "Rawhead and Bloodybones," appropriately for two English bogeyman characters, is quiet, creepy, and very much sneaking-up-on-you-in-the-night. "Scarecrow" is a secret highlight, ominous guitar and bass tones and swirling arrangements supporting a great Siouxsie turn, while the hints of flamenco on "Turn to Stone" perhaps inadvertently suggest where the Creatures would end up with their next album two years later. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2014 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Following Tinderbox's success but still not working as well with John Valentine Carruthers as they could have, Siouxsie and the Banshees kept him on for one further album -- a covers collection, much in the vein of band inspiration David Bowie's Pin-Ups. Through the Looking Glass is more than a time killer but less than a total success -- if anything it's seen more now as a chance for the band to refocus before ditching Carruthers and creating the stunning Peepshow. But there have been far worse efforts from other performers in this vein, and there's a cool, giddy fun at work throughout that makes it a fine listen. The inspired range of covers reaches from glam-era landmarks (Roxy Music's "Sea Breezes," John Cale's "Gun") to Billie Holiday's sorrowful touchstone "Strange Fruit" to, in one of the best such efforts ever (and a year before Hal Willner's Stay Awake project), a Disney classic -- namely the slinky "Trust in Me," originally from The Jungle Book and given a spare, mostly-Budgie backing that could almost be a sparkling Creatures outtake. Some takes are more or less direct clones without much to add -- Sparks' "This Town Isn't Big Enough for Both of Us" misses the sheer hysteria that Russell Mael brought to the original, but Iggy Pop's "The Passenger" adds a bit of horn-section punch and lets Siouxsie demonstrate her ability with calm, dismissive cool. Turning Kraftwerk's empty, haunted "Hall of Mirrors" into a much more propulsive, Morricone guitar-tinged number makes for a fine reinvention, though, while Bob Dylan-via-Julie Driscoll's "This Wheel's on Fire" made for an enjoyable, string-touched single from the album. And if anyone needed proof that the Banshees were obsessive fan types when they started, the concluding cover of Television's debut obscurity "Little Johnny Jewel" would provide it. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Rock - Released November 13, 1978 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

After building up an intense live reputation and a rabid fan base, Siouxsie and the Banshees almost had to debut with a stunner -- which they did, "Hong Kong Garden" taking care of things on the singles front and The Scream on the full-length. Matched with a downright creepy cover and a fair enough early producing effort from Steve Lillywhite -- well before he found gated drum sounds -- it's a fine balance of the early band's talents. Siouxsie Sioux herself shows the distinct, commanding voice and lyrical meditations on fractured lives and situations that would win her well-deserved attention over the years. Compared to the unfocused general subject matter of most of the band's peers, songs like "Jigsaw Feeling," "Suburban Relapse," and especially the barbed contempt of "Mirage" are perfect miniature portraits. John McKay's metallic (but not metal) guitar parts, riffs that never quite resolve into conventional melodies, and the throbbing Steven Severin/Kenny Morris rhythm section distill the Velvet Underground's early propulsion into a crisper punch with more than a hint of glam's tribal rumble. The sheer variety on the album alone is impressive -- "Overground" and its slow-rising build, carefully emphasizing space in between McKay's notes as much as the notes themselves, the death-march Teutonic stomp of "Metal Postcard," the sudden near-sunniness of the music (down to the handclaps!) toward the end of "Carcass." The cover of "Helter Skelter" makes for an unexpected nod to the past -- if it's not as completely overdriven as the original, Siouxsie puts her own definite stamp on it and its sudden conclusion is a great moment of drama. It's the concluding "Switch" that fully demonstrates just how solid the band was then, with McKay's saxophone adding just enough of a droning wild card to the multi-part theatricality of the piece, Siouxsie in particularly fine voice on top of it all. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Rock - Released June 10, 1991 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Superstition is a similar album to that of Peepshow, this time with more precise production and a lighter feeling to many of the songs. While Siouxsie and the Banshees albums like Tinderbox and Juju were dark affairs, Superstition's sound is representative of the pink of the album cover. A softer pop sound, mixed with the Banshees' penchant for minor keys and strange imagery. They manage to pull it off quite well on most tracks. "Fear (Of the Unknown)" and "Drifter" are classic Siouxsie stuff, and "Kiss Them for Me" gave them their first significant entry into the U.S. singles charts. But it's tracks like "Silly Thing" that hold this album back. This track manages to do what the Banshees had avoided all their career -- sounding like someone else. One of their most accessible albums, Superstition has appeal without losing its edge. © Chris True /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2009 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

A Kiss in the Dreamhouse shows Siouxsie and the Banshees backpedalling a bit from their excellently forthright predecessor, Juju, to update the more avant-garde stylings of Kaleidoscope. This album is in fact the Banshees' crowning glory in this experimental vein. Production and arrangements are highly varied and accomplished, and Sioux's singing by now is excellent, capable of imaginative shadings and free of its former tunelessness. "Obsession" is scored for chimes, overdubbed breathing, swallowed synthesizer sounds, strings, and very occasional guitar touches; this all supports a fine vocal with lyrics about the speaker's fixation on her object of desire. "Green Finger" is a driving, up-tempo number with Joy Division melodic bass, sparkling synthesizer touches, and wacky recorder tootlings. "Painted Bird" features a full helping of multi-tracked vocals propelled by a drumbeat that is alternately skittering and thumping; portions of this song suggest a nightmare version of Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way." "Cocoon" is best characterized as mutant bopping jazz with an often breathy, cooing vocal. "She's a Carnival" and "Slowdive" suggest eccentric stabs at mainstream acceptance, the former being a comparatively gutsy and forthright rocker, the latter a violin-colored dance beat number with hints of New Order or David Bowie that is a catchy melodic hook away from being the real thing. This fine platter is well worth purchasing. © David Cleary /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2009 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Nocturne is a top-notch live double album recorded in 1983 at the Royal Albert Hall. The sound quality is first-rate and the band performs excellently here. The songs on this release run a wide chronological range, from early numbers like the Lennon/McCartney cover "Helter Skelter" (here given a fire-breathing performance) to their recent single of the time (another Beatles song), "Dear Prudence." Much of the material is culled from the group's recent releases: Juju, A Kiss in the Dreamhouse, and Kaleidoscope. This platter serves as an excellent, no-nonsense introduction to the band's music for neophytes, while fans of the group will appreciate the tight, gutsy, stripped-down performances. © David Cleary /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2014 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Rapture is an ironic title, considering that this would be Siouxsie and the Banshees' last album, which is sad. Sad because the Banshees, one of the survivors of the English punk scene, went out with a whisper instead of roaring howl like they should have. Half of The Rapture is produced by Velvet Underground alumnus and art rock pioneer John Cale, while Siouxsie and her Banshees take control of the other half. Cale should have been nowhere near this album. While the Banshees-produced tracks sound like their vintage stuff, the Cale tracks stretch the Banshees' sound too thin. Siouxsie and the Banshees were at their best when they were doing things their way, and The Rapture is living proof that the Banshees succeeded because they never tried to fit into conventional musical structures. An ill-fitting goodbye. © Chris True /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2006 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Siouxsie and the Banshees made some wonderful albums in their time, such as Tinderbox, Hyaena, and Juju. Join Hands is unfortunately not one of them. The songs on this early release are almost uniformly grim, with dragging tempos, bleak lyrics, long and wandering free-form structures, static and often unfocused harmony, and thick, colorless arrangements. Siouxsie Sioux is not in her best vocal form here; much of her singing lacks punch and fire. The best selection here is "Icons," which survives an unpromising beginning to open out into a faster main section with fuller vocal sound and gutsier guitar work. The notorious number "The Lords Prayer" is a major punk landmark, featuring stream-of-consciousness lyrics that digress in every imaginable direction from the basic devotional text; regrettably, the song isn't very interesting to listen to despite its energetic instrumental playing. Another failed experiment is essayed in "Mother/Oh Mein Papa"; Sioux sings a lopsided melodic line out of sync with a music box playing the latter song of this pairing. Some of these selections appear to strongly anticipate the work of Joy Division's second album, Closer, especially "Placebo Effect," whose guitar sound was a clear inspiration for that of the Manchester band's song "Colony." Sound quality here is drab and squelched. Despite the group's laudable attempts to take some risks, it's difficult to recommend Join Hands. © David Cleary /TiVo
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Punk / New Wave - Released January 1, 2009 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Pop - Released January 1, 2004 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

A long time ago, back in late '80s or so, CD box sets were unleashed upon the music-buying public. Box sets like the Led Zeppelin box or Aerosmith's Pandora's Box were mostly hits affairs, with a few rarities (B-sides, live tracks, demos) to entice both fan and newcomer. In later years, however, a new concept in anthologizing a band's career came to the multi-disc format: the B-side box set. This new and more complete way of packaging the lesser-known moments of a long-running band walks a fine line between a treasure trove of great material with better sound on a better format and just plain overkill, the kind of collection that no one but the most rabid fan would care about. In the case of Downside Up, Siouxsie and the Banshees' contribution to the box set world, it's a little bit of both. On the one hand, there are not many newcomers to the band who need to hear the chaotic sound sculpture of "(There's A) Planet in My Kitchen," much less four discs of totally unfamiliar music. On the other hand, it would be a shame to miss out on some incredibly great music, albeit rather experimental and, at times, difficult. The first disc, especially, is loaded with what could arguably be some of the Banshees' finest moments. The rocking cover of T. Rex's "20th Century Boy," the better (and somewhat more fitting in German) than the original English version "Mettageisen (Metal Postcard)," "Drop Dead/Celebration," "Eve White/Eve Black," and the synth-based "Snap Dash Snap" are more than enough reason to invest in Downside Up. From then on, it gets a bit spotty, but the quality is still evident. Any band that is able to stay together for 20 years is going to have some weak moments. Over time Siouxsie and the Banshees would put their more experimental side to rest on album and single releases, but it didn't disappear completely. While some of discs two and three are a bit more straightforward than the earlier stuff, the experiments and lesser-known tracks such as "She's Cuckoo," "Mechanical Eyes," and "El Dia de los Muertos" are better than some of what ended up on the full-lengths. Disc four, however, does not play into the chronology of the rest of the set. Rather, it is the first official CD appearance of The Thorn EP, which was originally released in 1984. Here the band re-recorded some of its best early songs in a more updated and orchestral light. "Overground" especially takes on a whole new life as a strings-driven piece. So what's the final verdict on Downside Up? Does anyone really need "(There's A) Planet in My Kitchen"? No, not really, but the amount of killer well outweighs the filler here. It may be a bit much to invest, but for a moderate to rabid fan, it's damn worth it. Simply put, it's a collection of great songs from a great band, and that's what really matters. © Chris True /TiVo
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Rock - Released November 10, 2015 | Nibelung Records

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Punk / New Wave - Released January 12, 2015 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Named after their definitive single, Spellbound: The Collection is a fine introduction into the goth-y, glammy, and sort of Tim Burton-esque world of Siouxsie & the Banshees, but it's missing some key moments. The band's non-album cover version of the Beatles' "Dear Prudence" is the big, glaring omission, but get past that and inclusion of the title cut, "Cities in Dust," "Peek-A-Boo," and "Kiss Them for Me" checks off all the other necessary numbers. Early hit "Hong Kong Garden" now comes with an elegant string intro instead of the usual xylophone start, and all the early album cuts were remastered in 2014, with later recordings coming from the 2009 to 2013 remasters. Even if the 2002 release The Best of Siouxsie and the Banshees comes with a better track list by a choice or two, newcomers looking for that remastered punch should still find Spellbound an excellent place to start. © David Jeffries /TiVo