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Tuesday, 18 August 2015

45RPM: #2 - Hong Kong Garden - Siouxsie and the Banshees

Released on this day in 1978 a truly classic single and the debut from Siouxsie and the Banshees

Formed in 1976 and two days later they made their live debut as part of the bill for the Punk Festival at 100 Club in London on the 20th September. Siouxsie and Severin were joined on stage by Marco Pironi on guitar and John Ritchie (aka Sid Vicious) on drums. They had intended to break up following the gig but were invited to play again so they sought to put together a proper band and after a few months touring the band was Siouxsie on vocals, Severin on bass, Kenny Morris on drums and John McKay on guitar.

The song was named after the Hong Kong Garden Chinese take-away in Chislehurst High Street. Siouxsie was quoted as explaining the lyrics with reference to the racist activities of skinheads visiting the take-away:

"I'll never forget, there was a Chinese restaurant in Chislehurst called the 'Hong Kong Garden'. Me and my friend were really upset that we used to go there and like, occasionally when the skinheads would turn up it would really turn really ugly. These gits would just go in en masse and just terrorise these Chinese people who were working there. We'd try and say 'Leave them alone', you know. It was a kind of tribute."
Siouxsie put all her anger and frustration into the words:
    "I remember wishing that I could be like Emma Peel from The Avengers and kick all the skinheads' heads in, because they used to mercilessly torment these people for being foreigners. It made me feel so helpless, hopeless and ill."

Polydor Records
Produced by Nils Stevenson and Steve Lilywhite
Released 18th August 1978
UK Chart #7

Six months prior to the debut release by Siouxsie and the Banshees, Hong Kong Garden was recorded for a John Peel Session. You can find it and more by clicking here! The first eight tracks on the album Voices On The Air: The John Peel Sessions were recorded in 1977 and 1978 before the band had even been signed (they eventually signed with Polydor in June 1978).
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