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Sunday, 19 November 2017

Punk & New Wave 1978: The Scream - Siouxsie and The Banshees (November 1978)

This is a revision of a piece I did last year as some of the links on it were dead. Some new links and information have been added and I thought it would be good to revive it a little for your listening pleasure. 

There's lots of links below, so click on them to enjoy the music.

 The Scream - Siouxsie and The Banshees
Produced by Steve Lilywhite
Released 13th November 1978
UK Chart #12

Siouxsie and The Banshees
    Siouxsie Sioux – vocals
    Steven Severin – bass guitar
    John McKay – guitars, saxophone
    Kenny Morris – drums, percussion 

2005 Remastered Deluxe Edition
 Bonus Disc
     Rarities, Sessions & Singles
    Riverside Session
2-1 Make Up To Break Up 4:34

Features Peter Fenton on Guitar
    John Peel Session 1
2-2 Love In A Void 2:40
2-3 Mirage 2:41
2-4 Metal Postcard 3:35
2-5 Suburban Relapse 3:07
    John Peel Session 2
2-6 Hong Kong Garden 2:42
2-7 Overground 3:14
2-8 Carcass 3:44
2-9 Helter Skelter 3:35
    Pathway Demos
2-10 Metal Postcard 4:05
2-11 Suburban Relapse 3:55
2-12 The Staircase (Mystery) 3:08
2-13 Mirage 2:55
2-14 Nicotine Stain 3:13
    Single A-Sides
2-15 Hong Kong Garden 2:55
2-16 The Staircase (Mystery) 3:14

Singles on The Scream?
One of the things that's actually quite striking about The Scream is the absence of the Debut Single, Hong Kong Garden. The other thing that is very clear from the album is that there isn't actually even a future single on it! Well, that's sort of not so true because Metal Postcard was released as a single in West Germany in June 1979 with a German vocal and entitled Mittageisen and released in the UK at the end of September with the flip side Love In A Void (it would reach #47 in the charts in the UK). In France and the UK it was released as a Double A-Side.

Love In A Void appeared on The Once Upon A Time/ The Singles album (1981) and also on the 2006 Deluxe Editon of Join Hands, whilst Mittageisen wouldn't turn up on an album until the Downside Up Boxset of 2004.

Many of us would have bought the single on Import as Polydor did not release it for another couple of months after the initial release in West Germany.

A-Side: Mittageisen

A-Side: Love In A Void

The A-Sides of the first two Siouxsie and The Banshees singles were added to the 1989 CD Reissue of The Scream. They were both also included on the bonus disc of the 2005 The Scream Remastered Deluxe Edition. The B-sides did not appear on an album until Downside Up Boxset in 2004.

Released 18th August 1978
UK Chart #7

Released 23rd March 1979
UK Chart #24


Released 23rd October 2006

Six of the songs that form The Scream, the Debut Album from Siouxsie and The Banshees, had previously been heard on two sessions for John Peel on BBC Radio One prior to the band signing to any record label (29/11/77: Mirage, Metal Postcard, Suburban Relapse, 6/2/78: Overground, Carcass and Helter Skelter). 

The getting signed part was important especially as the band wanted creative control and Polydor Records gave them just that. The decision to not include the debut single or the follow-up was an interesting one and also to not necessarily have a possible "future single" included must have caused Polydor some anxiety.

The Scream is a fantastic Debut from the band and it immediately showed that they were more than prepared to move beyond the confines of "Punk" as it had been defined by the music press and the media. Along with the likes of Joy Divison and Magazine, Siouxsie and The Banshees were clearly blazing a trail for a new and vital Post-Punk sound.

There was a lot of expectation about the album prior to release and it didn't disappoint, though I have to say that I do favour more the Peel Session versions of some of the songs! The reviews were pretty good with Sounds saying it was The Debut Album of the Year and their writer Peter Silverton  gave it five out five stars in his review. Record Mirror also gave it five stars with Chris Westwood saying: The Scream "points to the future, real music for the new age... It is vital, it's moving. It's a ... landmark." Ian Birch of Melody Maker was also postive whilst noting that the album's texture was not unlike that of Wire or Pere Ubu

Kris Needs of ZigZag said, "I can't think of another group who could have made an LP so uncompromising, powerful and disturbing, yet so captivating and enjoyable... It is certainly a special classic to join milestones like Diamond Dogs (Bowie), Roxy Music's first and Lou Reed's Berlin. This is music of such strength and vision that you just can't not be moved by the time they swing into the final climactic passage of 'Switch', the closing track." Needs qualified the sound as "huge, sometimes awe-inspiring" and commented that drummer Morris created "one of the best drum sounds I've ever heard – the deep echo and floor-shuddering mix accentuating his muted Glitter Band stomp"

Adam Sweeting began his review by saying, "This is a chilling, intense masterpiece", then noted that the musicians "have perfected a group sound which is powerful but streamlined", adding that "the words and music combine to produce coolly dazzling images".

Paul Morley writing for the Christmas issue of the NME in December 1978 said, "It is easy to gain attention by doing something which is crudely obviously out of the ordinary, but the Banshees have avoided such futile superficialities: it is innovation, not revolution, not a destruction but new building. It has grown out of rock – Velvets, Station to Station, Bolan".

I loved that line by Morley "it is innovation not revoultion, not a destruction but new building". When you play this album and then listen to say, Give 'em Enough Rope by The Clash, which was released around the same time you can really see just how different the sound of "Punk" was in those days and exactly where it was going to go!

Julie Burchill of the NME was unimpressed, stating that the Banshees sound was "a self-important threshing machine thrashing all stringed instruments down onto the same low level alongside that draggy sub-voice as it attempts futile eagle and dove swoops around the mono-beat. Their sound is certainly different from the normal guitar-bass-drums-voice consequence. But it’s radically stodgy, loud, heavy and levelling, the sound of suet pudding" but then she seemed to be one of the only ones being negative about the album so I guess her opinion doesn't matter that much! 😀

Thirty Nine years on I still think the album sounds great and innovative and it clearly was a harbringer of what was to come with the whole Post-Punk scene.

It's influence was widespread impacting the likes of Robert Smith (The Cure), Peter Hook (Joy Division), Jim Reid (The Jesus and Mary Chain) - he said regarding Jigsaw Feeling, "it was brilliant, amazing. That's a reason why I made music". Shirley Manson of Garbage cites it as one of her all-time favourite records. Even Faith No More state that this first album by Siouxsie and the Banshees was one of their influences!

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