"For the first time," explains Steve Severin, "we've done an album with a black-and-white structure and allow the listener to color the edges. We leave more to the imagination now. It isn't a deluge of sounds or textures. You can understand the melodies immediately. Perhaps we've put off people in the past because they were too hard to grasp. This album is more like a spider in its web. It traps people first, then if they listen closer they can get into the lyrics or the sounds coming out of far corners."

On Peep Show, their tenth album overall and fourth on Geffen Records, Siouxsie & The Banshees are discovering the joys of simplicity. (Peep Show is The Banshees' eighth album of original material. They've also had one covers album, Through The Looking Glass, one compilation album, Once Upon A Time - The Singles and one double live album, Nocturne.)

Bass player and songwriter Severin, who co-founded the band twelve years ago with singer-songwriter Siouxsie Sioux, says that the band had recently come to a turning point. "We took a fairly lengthy time to re-evaluate what we were trying to do and to see if we wanted to continue. So we took a break, something we hadn't done for a long while, and we realized that something had to change."

The final change was not an unusual one for this band--jettisoning its latest guitarist. Siouxsie & The Banshees have had nearly as many guitarists as albums. The newly-enlisted replacement is Jon Klein, formerly of Specimen, a band which emerged from London's nocturnal Bat Cave Club.

"We chose him because he didn't have any ego problems. Most lead guitarists have a primadonna attitude. But Jon was more into being a sound within a group. He didn't want to dominate the structure of the songs. He was comfortable being one element in five."

That's right, five. Siouxsie & The Banshees is now a quintet. Prior to Jon joining, Siouxsie, Severin and drummer Budgie had already added Martin McCarrick on keyboards and cello to the lineup. McCarrick was familiar to the band, having worked on their string sessions over the past few years. They became acquainted with him through his work with Marc Almond with whom he performed in the bands Marc and the Mambas and The Willing Sinners. McCarrick was a crucial addition according to Severin.

"We needed to expand, to broaden the sound and give us more options. We had always been shy of keyboards and strings before because we know we couldn't do them live. Performing we weren't sure whether the part we were playing was actually for a guitar or a piano half the time. Having Martin has made a lot of difference."

Following a short U.S. tour last year, the band retreated to a small village in the English countryside to get to know one another, to discover if they could write songs together, and most importantly, to determine the next step for one of the rare bands which was born in the musical tumult of the mid-'70's and still survives today.

That step resulted in Peep Show. Continues Severin, "We made a conscious effort to strip the music down. We had been involved too much in sound for a couple of albums. For this album, we worked on songs, songs that we played and created in the studio, and not just bringing constructed pieces into the recording sessions. The fact is some of our best material has been on the B-sides of singles or songs we put on an album at the last moment. We wanted to do that this go-around for an entire album."

Their 1987 album, Through The Looking Glass, consisting wholly of covers of other artists' material, helped pave the way for Peep Show.

"It forced us to check out a lot of songs from other people and see how they were constructed. They were really simple songs. Unadulterated. Three or four chords. That experience made us look at how we write, that maybe our songs should be more straight forward. From that point of view it was a really excellent project."

While the songs on Peep Show (produced by Mike Hedges and the band) are still indelibly pressed with the Banshees' trademark quirkiness and darkness, and though they still employ words and sounds in totally unexpected combinations, it is clearly the band's most accessible album to date.

"It shows different sides of ourselves, which we've never displayed in one place before. You can hear them on B-sides or spread out over a few albums but not the best of these styles on one album. There's the very big, grand song like 'Rhapsody' which is built on tension. There's 'Killing Jar,' a Banshees pop song. There's 'The Last Beat of My Heart,' which is almost a ballad."

Loosely speaking, there is also a theme to Peep Show. "As Siouxsie and I came up with lyrics, we came up with a feel. We started to talk about it and then common themes began to run through the songs. There are a number of ways you can write lyrics: talk about your own emotions; attempt to be someone else; or take a step back and look in on someone else's relationship and the way life is. We do the latter more frequently on this album than ever before. It became a funnel where we put our own emotional input but we also watched from the outside--like a peep show. There's definitely a heavy voyeuristic element on the album."

Consistent with this theme, Peep Show features the single "Peek-A-Boo," a hypnotic, impressionistic song about soft-core pornography and the dehumanizing of women; and also includes such morsels as "Rawhead and Bloodybones," a gory, nightmarish lullaby; and "Rhadsody," concerning the Stalinist era in the Soviet Union.

"I'd been reading a lot of Russian poets who were banned during that time. But the song is more about the human spirit than any particular political situation," Severin points out.

Obviously, despite the "getting down to basics" approach of Peep Show, Siouxsie & The Banshees continue to explore subjects unique to rock 'n' roll bands and their songs continue to sound like no one else's--which is how it has been from the very beginning.

Debuting at London's 100 Club on September 20, 1976, Siouxsie & The Banshees played a 20-minute version of "The Lord's Prayer" with Sid Vicious on drums, before he moved on to Sex Pistols infamy, Siouxsie, Steve Severin and guitarist Marco Pironni. Though personnel changes began almost immediately, the band quickly swept into the forefront of avant-punk. Within a year, they were headlining their own sold-out concerts, "Sign The Banshees Do It Now" graffiti adorned the entrances of all the major record companies, then they were signed to Polydor Records. Their first single, "Hong Kong Garden," reached the Top 10 in the U.K., as did their first album, The Scream (1978).

With her darkened eyes, stark white face, the blackest of black hair, and a fire-and-ice stare, Siouxsie Sioux was an instant sensation. Her exotic vocals mixed with the band's twisted and driving rock beats made them favorites on the English music scene. Their brashness ranged from the tongue-in-cheek to the serious, and the sensitive to the grandiose. Mysterious and erotic, Siouxsie & The Banshees presented a lyrical romanticism tinged with the reality of a world-weariness.

Yet at the time, perhaps they were too enigmatic for American audiences. One critic has called Siouxsie & The Banshees "one of the most consistently rewarding, influential, and, in this country, sadly neglected bands of the last decade." (Los Angeles Times, 1986). After The Scream, and until they made their Geffen premiere in 1984, their music could only be heard here via small independent American labels or on imports, despite concert successes and clamorings for their recordings.

Those recordings included 1979's singles "Staircase Mystery" and "Playgroud Twist" and the album Join Hands. (It was for the subsequent tour that drummer Budgie--formerly of Big in Japan and the Slits--came on board and remained). The following year, the single "Happy House" became a hit and the Kaleidoscope LP was released, as were the songs "Christine" and "Israel" before they left Britain for their first tour of North America. The singles "Spellbound" and "Arabian Knights," and the album Juju surfaced in 1981, along with Once Upon A Time - The Singles. The latter went gold in the United Kingdom and the videocassette reigned at the top of the charts for an incredible six months.

Having had more influence on more "new music" female singers than anyone, Siouxsie was voted the #1 female singer for the second year in a row in 1982 by the readers of New Musical Express. The band then commenced its initial tour of the Far East and Scandinavia that year and released "Fireworks." Nocturne, the two-album live set, was recorded in 1983 before the band signed with Geffen and released Hyaena in 1984. Tinderbox (1986) was next, including "Cities in Dust." Through The Looking Glass then preceded their current Peep Show.

Through it all, Siouxsie & The Banshees have never failed to be challenging.

"We're not very much more commercial today than we were at the start," says Severin. "There's been no great change in direction. We're just making the best use of the tensions and talents that we have. We don't want to just carry on and retread our work but to push ourselves. We're our own harshest critics. Today, we're trying to use what we've learned and to focus it and make it mean something."

Only for a band as complex as this one is would simplifying their work be considered a challenge.

"We always want to surprise the people who listen, as well as ourselves. With Siouxsie & The Banshees you never know what we're going to do next."




  Peepshow Presskit Promo Photo - Click Here For Full Scan"Like most people, we probably don't live up to our ideals.  My own idea of what a Banshee is will probably go with me to my grave.  Even if the whole group ended today, my whole 'Banshee' vision would remain.."  Steven Severin.

"I can imagine myself at least 2,000 years old with banks of cats and banks of stone male statues." Siouxsie

Biographies are places for amassing history, for totalling up chart positions and records sold like a bank balance.  Siouxsie & The Banshees' credit would be outstanding in such a summary, not least because they have remained true to their own enigmatic brand of dignity since their inception.  Yet facts and figures can only hint at The Banshees' extraordinary progress.  Siouxsie & The Banshees have been at the forefront of British pop ever since Siouxsie & Severin performed a 20 minute disemboweling of The Lord's Prayer at the 100 Club Punk Festival in 1976.  That performance was a work of imagination and it is imagination that has made Siouxsie's pop icon without ever allowing her or The Banshees to become a cliché.

The performance only confirmed the impression the pair had made when accompanying The Sex Pistols on their infamous interview with Bill Grundy on the Today Programme.  Siouxsie distinguished herself on that occasion by calling Grundy 'a dirty old man', establishing a concern with British sexual hypocrisy that has taken many Peepshow Presskit Promo Postcard - Click Here For Full Scandelightful twists on its way to the current Banshees' single 'Peek A Boo', the 10 albums that lead up to the new LP, 'Peepshow', the offshoot projects like The Creatures and The Glove, the tours of Britain and the world with sorties into far flung territories like Brazil, the guitar players that have come and gone while the trio of Siouxsie, Severin and drummer Budgie (who joined in 1979) have gone their own sweet way - these are just so many achievements on a list.  12 years in a band and on covers of the nations press.  Siouxsie & The Banshees may have attempted the occasional foray into almost conventional behaviour - the singles collection Once Upon A Time in 1981, the double live album Nocturne recorded at The Royal Albert Hall in 1983, their idiosyncratic autobiography of cover versions Through The Looking Glass of a year and a half ago, a record designed to remind The Banshees of the pleasure of working fast and to the point.

"We're survivors because we turn disadvantages into advantages."

'Peepshow' is the first Banshees' studio LP since 1986's Tinderbox and features the band augmented by the talents of Martin McCarrick on keyboards and Jon Klein on guitar.  Produced with Mike Hedges who has worked on most of the 80's Banshees' output, Peepshow has the imagination, the variety, the eroticism and the humour of the Banshees at their vital best.  No longer reliant on guitar to carry the dash of their songs, The Banshees now introduce all manner of textures to convey their visions, accordian on Peek A Boo, harmonica on Burn Up.  The one note that is missing from Peepshow is any sense of playing safe or playing to a reputation.  "The most important thing is to make your own world and atmosphere, times that take you away from the planet," said Siouxsie some years back.  She and The Banshees have never faltered from this task and, strangely, in escaping their suburban roots so totally, they have succeeded time and time again in taking their listeners to the very heart of their dreams and nightmares.  Quite simply, there is no one else even remotely like them.  July 1988




  Q 1988  
  Peepshow Advert - Click Here For Full ScanThe odds suggest that Siouxsie & The Banshees should be all washed up by now, retreading their familiar obsessions in ever diminishing circles.  The Banshees began as a typical punk jeu d'esprit,  a name conjured up to strike a hokey note of fear and to give Siouxsie and partner Steve Severin a stage for playing pranks like their first appearance - a 20-minute assault on The Lord's Prayer.  The pranks have lasted longer than anyone might have imagined and the Banshees have succeeded in forging their own obsessions from a rich and enduring seam.

If the past five years have been something of a write-off for Siouxsie co, littered with departing guitarists, broken legs and some slightly woebegone holding actions like 1983's double live album Nocturne and last year's LP of cover versions, Through The Looking Glass, Peep Show is a startling act of reinvention and the ultimate proof of Siouxsie's bloody mindedness.

Contrary to expectation, the years have not withered the Banshees nor shrivelled their fertile imaginations.  The cat is already half way out of the bag in the shape of Peek A Boo, the record's first single and a bizarre blend of scratch and swing that manages to sound quite unlike the Banshees while virtually boasting that it could be the work of no one else.  Peek A Boo is typical of Peep Show in the way it addresses itself to familiar Banshee themes - in this case the bewitching and dubious power of the look - while managing to find unpredictable and joky ways of doing so.  Martin McCarrick's accordion that pokes it's way into Peek A Boo is par for the course, a carny piece of musical imagination that adds fresh colouring to the Banshees' canvas while perfectly illustrating the monkey games that Peek A Boo is undermining.

The rest of the record bursts with similar acts of imagination and establishes once and for all that the Banshees have long outgrown their sojourn as a mere rock band.  Peep Show takes place in some distorted fairground of the mind where weird and wonderful shapes loom and songs emerge with names like Scarecrow, Carousel and Rhapsody.  Full honours go to the aforementioned McCarrick for all manner of shrewd decorations and drummer Budgie for endlessly inventive rhythm work that manages to pinpoint the tension inherent in each song without ever lapsing into an obvious beat.

When the first side concludes with Siouxsie witchily exploring nursery rhymes like "Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jump over the candlestick" to the strains of a harmonica, it's long since apparent that she is not trading on any laurels.  When her singing simply shimmers on the ballad The Last Beat Of My Heart towards the end of side two, she has earned a new kind of respect.  Twelve years and 11 albums in, Siouxsie & The Banshees have managed to recapture why they're in this game in the first place while binding that discovery to a well-earned maturity.  The results are simply black magic.  


Mark Cooper



  Unknown source 1988  
  Peepshow Advert Click Here For Bigger ScanAfter a year's rest and recuperation the Banshees, with yet another new guitarist, Jon Klein, in tow, returned to confound their critics with Peepshow.  A typically idiosyncratic piece of work that spawned the singles Peek A Boo and The Killing Jar, it combined all their old strengths with a new found willingness to innovate and, on songs like The Last Beat Of My Heart, a wistful arrangement of strings and accordion.  The stormy, blues powered Burn Up and Carousel, a nightmarish vision of childhood with a deliciously sinister fairground organ, proved that reports of their demise had been greatly exaggerated.  


  Unknown source 1988  
  There can be no mistaking a Banshees album - wild screechy vocals and swirling guitars.  But on this record they've taken a few risks and added accordian and harmonica, and it works.  'Peepshow is more commercial than 1986's 'Tinderbox' album but that's not to say they've lost their edge.  

Andrew Vaughan



  Record Mirror 1988  
  Peepshow Advert Click Here For Bigger ScanA new Siouxsie album is like a packet of hedgehog flavoured crisps - the idea isn't appealing, but the contents are surprisingly tasty.

Every time you pluck a fresh slice of Siouxsie vinyl from it's sleeve an old love affair is rekindled.  Her hair might have gone but her appeal hasn't.

'Peepshow' shares little of the swirling anxiety of 86's 'Tinderbox', instead it shows the more boisterous, witty and adventurous side of the Banshees.  It catches them with their guard down, and we're finally given a glimpse beneath the stern veneer that's often smothered their work.  It's as though having her wig removed has taken a great weight from Siouxsie's shoulders.

The eccentric 'Peek A Boo' is the Banshees playing their own game, while 'Burn Up' sees them conforming to pop convention with rousing effect.  'Rawhead & Bloodybones' is like a disturbing fairy tale draped over a music box backing.  The highlight is the restrained 'The Last Beat Of My Heart', where Siouxsie's voice explores new ground as she caresses a haunting melody.

Brimming with confidence and unburdened with theatrics.  'Peepshow' is the Banshees' finest hour.  

4 ½ out of 5  

Kevin Murphy



  Webmaster 26/10/01  
  Peepshow Advert Click Here For Bigger ScanAfter one too many generic 'rock' albums, the Banshees reinvent themselves and come out winning. Now with new permanent multi instrumentalist Martin MacCarrick, the Banshees once again reach those dizzy heights we know they are capable of. 

Peek A Boo, is something rarely heard and not often repeated, a totally unique, strident belch of a song, catchy, hummable and lively and yet at the same time dealing lyrically with the gritty underworld of soft porn advertising. Siouxsie's treated vocals are a treat. Is it rap? Is it hip hop? No just the Banshees pushing the boundaries yet further. 

Peepshow needs to be listened to in its entirety, from the squelch of Peek A Boo to the grandeur of Rhapsody; it's like being taken on a twisted fairground ride. Peepshow is the sound of a band making their OWN music on their OWN terms. It's reminiscent of Dreamhouse, found sounds, unusual treatments, unexpected hooks and twists along the way. 

On 'The Last Beat Of My Heart' the Banshees finally lay to rest any Punk, Goth or Rock labels and make the statement 'We can do anything'. 

There is a return to the playfulness that sometimes jarred on the Hyaena album, but sits comfortably amongst the playground of this album. 

Burn Up is a dizzy roller coaster, Carousel a scary waltz through childhood memories. 

Peepshow evokes images of the fairground, sideshows, and carnivals. And the Banshees are proud and confident on this album, so much so that they release an unprecedented three singles, no formula here, the only common thread between each single being Siouxsie's voice, rich and mature beyond her years. Three singles from one album, something unthought of in their earlier incarnations. 

It's the oral equivalent of delving into a treasure chest and exhuming the most exquisite riches. Each song has a defined identity, no fillers on this album. 

The artwork is a perfect accompaniment to what you find inside and each b-side from this period could have easily have slotted in anywhere in the album's track listing and extended the giddy exhilarating ride.


  Unknown source 1988  
  Peepshow Poster - Click Here For Bigger ScanClear the mind and forget all you've ever been told (worryingly easy, isn't it?).  Siouxsie's always made great 45s.  So give me the short, sharp slap round the face of 'Peek A Boo' any day over a full 40 minutes' worth of heightened flights of fancy, somnambulist patter or spider-webbed nightmare.  Drenched in atmosphere 'Peepshow' may be.  But something to come back to again and again?  Not quite.

The single kicks off with a magical, almost maniacal rejoinder to those who'd have the Banshees consigned to some black pit of oblivion.  With it's backwards rhythm, wayward accordian and a typically stalking incantation from Ms Sioux, it positively pings with life.

If what follows lacks such perverse inspiration, at least it doesn't go for the easy option..  'The Killing Jar' and 'Turn To Stine' may slip into classic, grandiose Banshee mode but they're more than balanced by 'Rawhead And Bloodybones' which is just plain weird.  After all, when Siouxsie dreams, it's not just in colour: it's got stereo, is scented and tactile with it.  Pass the lozengers, please.

An exquisite 'Last Beat Of My Heart' plays around with a stripped down Euro throb while a heavily echoed voice waxes on the subject of infinite and absolute devotion.  Right to the deep heart's core it goes.  And so the richly electric parade marches on.

There's an obvious, yet pleasingly circular fairground motion to 'Carousel' while the pyromaniacal lusting of 'Burn Up' has a swift shuffle getting steadily faster and faster with Budgie's harmonica coming in for ever more licking and spitting.

Siouxsie's delivery, as ever, ranks somewhere between a purr and a yodel.  Yet for 'Rhapsody' with it's tense swirling patterns, she somewhat ill advisedly decides to adopt a mock operatic tone that's rather more callous than Callas.  Never mind if it's something less the grand finale it strives too hard to be.  Within their limited terms of reference and after a dozen years, the Banshees still mix guile with innocence and risk coming the odd cropper.  As vital or as irrelevant today as they were back in '76, 'Peepshow' sees them doing better than just hanging on to their unique place on pop's podium.  An eyeful, at least.  

3½ Out Of 5  

Peter Kane



  Unknown source 1988  
  Peepshow Advert - Click Here For Bigger Scan