Music Monday: Siouxsie And The Banshees (Part 2)

hong kong gardenYou may wonder why I split up my look at Siouxsie And The Banshees into two parts. You may wonder why there are two parts at all considering the first part was a complete story. Thing is, I have gotten to like and appreciate the band more as time goes on. I’m not under the impression they were particularly groundbreaking, or musically instrumental in music history. Simply, Siouxsie And The Banshees were a good band that sort of seems to get overlooked these days, even by people who remember the band.

“Hong Kong Garden”

Starting out in the mid 70s in the London punk scene Siouxsie Sioux and bassist Steve Severin were part of a group of Sex Pistols fans. They eventually started their own band, one that features Sid Vicious on drums and Marco Pirroni on guitar – if only for one gig (and one that was less of a set than an organized improv). It didn’t take long for Sioux and Severin to get serious about the band, get a “real” line-up, then work on some actual songs.

“Nicotine Stain”

The Scream is the debut album by Siouxsie And The Banshees, released in 1978 and it is considered by some to mark the transition from punk to post-punk. As an album, I don’t like it. But that’s me. It’s alright, I’ll listen to it, but maybe it was because I got into the band a bit later (which I will get to shortly), but this era of the band just doesn’t “do it” for me. And their cover of “Helter Skelter” is grating.

“Drop Dead/Celebration” (B-side to “Happy House)

dazzleA couple of albums and a couple of personnel changes later the band settled on a sound that was less harsh but still at times challenging. The core of the lineup would be Siouxsie on vocals, Severin on bass and Budgie on drums – from the third album onward throughout the rest of the band’s career. The guitar slot (as well as an occasional keyboardist) would be rotating. Even Robert Smith from The Cure was in there at one point, going on tour and recording an album.

“Dazzle” (Glamour Mix)

While the band’s popularity had grown, at least in certain segments of the college radio market, it wasn’t until 1986 or so that I was introduced to Siouxsie And The Banshees. The singles “Cities In Dust” from Tinderbox and “The Passenger” from the covers album Through The Looking Glass were constantly played – so much so that I kind of got sick of them. They were enough to get me interested in the band and at this point I had some money and time so I was able to start picking up stuff from their back catalog (along with several other bands as I was in full music discovery at this point in my life).

“Trust In Me” (Yes, from The Jungle Book)

In 1988 Peepshow was released, which I discussed previously. By now the band was musically so far removed from its origins so as to be unrecognizable. And I like it. I prefer the lush, moody, almost gothic style of pop music that wasn’t necessarily trying to be popular. The band even flirted with mainstream success for a while during this period.

“Are You Still Dying Darling?” (B side of “The Killing Jar”)

siouxsie bandEventually Siouxsie And The Banshees decided to stop being a band. Their record label dropped them, and the constant hassle of having to recruit new guitarists (and keyboardists) along with the increasingly complex musical arrangements meant it was getting more and more difficult to carry on, especially without any support from a record label (as one needed back then for an act of their stature).

“Cry”

Siouxsie and Budge would carry on at The Creatures, but that will be for a different post.

“Face To Face”

 

 

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Phamily Foto Phriday 1-23-15

It’s been a couple of weeks, I know, but I haven’t taken that many pictures. We are all so busy, and then again, there’s nothing really to report. It’s all the hecticness of life with a gajillion kids.

Earlier this month Ciaran had a Cub Scout meeting. There he worked on creating a scrapbook, one of the requirements for getting his Tiger Cub badge.

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Also earlier this month while Laura was working late I decided to make pancakes for dinner. The kids liked this a lot.

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I don’t remember exactly when or what for, but Dela got in trouble one night. SHe sulked off into the the kitchen and I found her like this a while later.

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Here are two pictures of Tevye from this week.

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As I was taking Xavier to preschool one day this week I ran into these two.

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Speaking of Xavier…

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Bring Back Friday Night Videos

friday night videosDoes anybody else remember “Friday Night Videos”? This was a program that aired on NBC Friday nights after “The Tonight Show” a few years before “Late Night With David Letterman” took over that programming slot that night.

Debuting in 1983, NBC was looking to capitalize on the popularity of music videos – and produce a cheap late night program. For years “The Midnight Special” stood tall in the late Friday night slot with its presentation of live music. Then it gave way for a couple of years to “SCTV” but that seemed to take away from “Saturday Night Live” so executives went looking for something else. MTV was making headlines and music videos were extremely popular, but cable still had not penetrated into most television viewing homes.

The format of the series changed (as did its time slot) later on in the 90s as cable became the standard for television viewing. The off-screen announcer gave way to on-screen guest hosts. Then there were stand-up comedy segments. Eventually it just sort of morphed into a general entertainment show and disappeared.

Now that MTV doesn’t show music videos, or any channel these days, the time is ripe for a revival. Sure, you could go online and find some videos, but the trouble with this method is the discovery is absent since you sort of have to know what you are searching for. Having a curated block of music videos would be most welcome (at least on my television).

Air the program overnight on Fridays, or maybe after “Saturday Night Live” (I’m not tied to the name anyway). Heck, at 1 in the morning on Sunday (Saturday night) it might get more viewers than you expect. I would set my DVR to record it. The time is right. Come on NBC. You know the viewers would like this. The music industry wouldn’t mind either.

 

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Music Monday: Siouxsie And The Banshees (Part 1)

peepshow coverI had been to concerts before. Most of my live music had come from festivals such as the Bite Of Seattle or Bumbershoot, but I was taken to a Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem concert in my youth and I did get to see the Beach Boys perform after a Mariners game (but that is a different story). In many ways though, Siouxsie And The Banshees was my first concert. It was the first time I went to a ticket outlet and purchased a concert ticket.

In the later part of 1988 Siouxsie And The Banshees released Peepshow, an album that saw the band branch out musically. A lot of different instruments were used, the production lush, yet it still sounded like the band fans were used to. Not only were the songs played on the radio with regularity there were a number of 12 inch extended versions that sounded good. The band had, it appeared, hit a high watermark in their career.

“Peek A Boo” (Album version)

“Peek A Boo (Silver Dollar Mix)”

Attending the concert, however, was a different experience. The opening act was late, and it wasn’t much of an opening act – just some sort of magician guy. He would have been fine had he started on time and the headlining act taken the stage immediately afterwards. Not only did he start well after the advertised start time on the ticket, it was almost an hour after he finished his set before Siouxsie And The Banshees took the stage.

“The Killing Jar” (Album version)

“The Killing Jar (Lepidopteristic Mix)”

By the time Siouxsie And The Banshees started the crowd was already upset. A lot was forgiven with the stellar songs, but something didn’t sit right with me. There was a detachment about Siouxsie’s stage presence, almost as if she were performing in front of a mirror. Not once did she acknowledge the audience. Was she strung out on drugs? Was she simply fulfilling a contractual obligation? Whatever the answer the experience left a bad taste in my mouth, so much so that I was put off of the band for a number of years.

peepshow shirtOf course I bought the T-shirt at the concert. I have since lost it. I’d like to find it again. It won’t be the same because I wouldn’t be getting it at the concert, but still.

I walked out of the concert venue greatly disappointed, but it didn’t put me off live music. It would be a while before I listened to Siouxsie And The Banshees again, even the albums I already owned and liked. When new music from the band came out I didn’t pay as much attention to it – and the announcement of their appearance on the inaugural Lollapalooza tour actually made me not wish to attend. A decision I regret in retrospect.

Looking back, after I made my peace with the experience and getting back into the band’s music shortly before they broke up, I wish I had gotten the chance to see Siouxsie And The Banshees one more time. What happened that night in Santa Cruz may have been a fluke. Maybe it was indicative of where the band was actually at with regards to their stage presence. Regardless, the bottom line is the band leaves behind a legacy of some great music. Peepshow is a great record, and despite the lousy concert, it remains perhaps my favorite Siouxsie And The Banshees album.

 

 

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3 Of My Favorite Jokes

Two men walk into a bar. The third man ducks.

What is the last thing to go through a fly’s mind as it hits the windshield? It’s ass.

dave allen at largeThis last one is sort of paraphrased. I heard it from an Irish comedian, Dave Allen on his television series “Dave Allen At Large” – it was syndicated here in the United States in the late 70s and early 80s. I can’t seem to find a clip of this particular joke and I’ve not heard it in many years, but I loved it then and over the years I’ve only grown to love it more. I am sure I’m not doing it justice, but it goes a little something like this:

A man dies and goes to heaven. Saint Peter is there and asks if the man would like to look around. The man agrees and the two start to wander off. They turn a corner and there’s a field full of people sitting cross-legged. The man asks,

“What’s with this group?”

Saint Peter replies “Those are some of our Buddhists. They are meditating.”

They walk on and a moment later the man asks,

“Who are these people here, and why are then all kneeling in a line?”

“Oh, those are some of the Muslims, getting ready for their prayers.”

They continue walking a bit further and come across another group. The man remarks, “They are dressed a bit odd. Who are they?”

“They are Jewish. Some are Orthodox which might be the garb you are referring to.”

A moment later the come to a large wall. It’s extremely high and stretches out in either direction as far as the eye can see. “What’s the deal with this wall?” the man asks.

“We keep most of our Christians there. They like to think they are the only ones here.”

 

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Music Monday: Tin Machine

tin machine cdAfter the lackluster reception to 1987’s Never Let Me Down, David Bowie considered giving up music for a while. The album didn’t sell as well as expected, and the tour suffered from technical problems and lackluster sales, partly because he was simply “going through the motions” after the blockbuster success of Let’s Dance and to a lesser extent the follow-up Tonight (which was popular more on the momentum of Let’s Dance). As a reaction to the direction his career was going Bowie allowed himself to be prodded into forming a band with guitarist Reeves Gabrels – introduced by Gabrels wife who was a publicist on the Glass Spider tour (the tour behind Never Let Me Down).

Gabrels and Bowie were joined by Hunt and Tony Sales and the four of them became the band Tin Machine. David Bowie was working in a group, not with a set of backing musicians, and this was an important point. While the sound certainly had a lot of familiarity for David Bowie fans (at least those who were familiar with him before Let’s Dance) it had a much harder edge to it. Today the 1989 self titled album sounds “normal” but in 1989 radio and MTV (because that’s where music was actually played then) it was out of place – and looking back it was ahead of its time.

After the first album was well received (critically at least) it seemed as if this new band would be the direction David Bowie would be taking. There never was an interview (that I saw) with Bowie alone. There was always at least one other band member. Most of the songs were co-written with band members. Tin Machine played a rather short tour of smaller venues and a “stripped down” or “back to basics” types of show.

“Baby  Can Dance”

While the band on on hiatus between the first tour and recording of the second album, David Bowie released the collection Sound + Vision and embarked on a solo tour to say farewell to many of his previous songs. This tour was, in contrast, a large sale affair and a massive success playing stadiums and arenas around the world.

tin machine 2 cd1991’s Tin Machine II featured more songs co-written by Bowie and Gabrels, with fewer co-written by the band as a whole. It did not get as much critical praise as its predecessor. Unfortunately this second album did not receive as much promotion and as a result, did not sell as well.  Part of the problem could be traced directly to the album’s cover art which several retailers refused to carry and subsequently had to be altered – but by then it was too little too late. Interestingly this second album is more cohesive than its predecessor.

 

Again the band toured, this time much more extensively, but keeping to the smaller venues and pared down stage act.

“Stateside”

tin machine oy vey cdA live album was released, but it was more of a sampler than anything else. At only 8 songs it didn’t capture Tin Machine effectively as a live band. The contrast between the Sound + Vision tour and the tour undertaken by Tin Machine, audiences had pretty much abandoned the band. As a result David Bowie resumed his solo career.

It’s a shame Tin Machine didn’t last long enough to have any sort of legacy. What I especially do not like is how the first album is generally available as a David Bowie album (retconned into his solo output between Never Let Me Down and Black Tie White Noise) and the second and live albums are completely overlooked if not completely dismissed – and unavailable.

“You Belong In Rock & Roll” (Live)

It’s a shame, as I rather liked Tin Machine.

 

 

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Heroes For Lunch

Xavier has begun to start playing video games. You can question my parenting decisions all you want, I do, but until you try parenting a large group of kids that aren’t the same age at least hold of on the harsher of judgements. He only plays LEGO Marvel and The LEGO Movie, and only for about an hour at a time and only on the weekends. Of the two games he really does prefer LEGO Marvel.

This morning he asked to play LEGO Marvel. I said he could play later this afternoon.

lego marvel rev boxHe kept asking throughout the morning. He asked when “later” would be. Finally I relented and told him after lunch he could play LEGO Marvel. That satisfied him for a bit.

A while later he came up and asked me if it was lunch time.

“Yes, what would you like for lunch?”

“Nothing. Can I go play LEGO Marvel now?”

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Phamily Foto Phriday 1-9-15

It’s a new year. I still have some old pictures. It’s not all older stuff this week though.

Here are the shots from Christmas that turned out.

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Yes, that is a shot of Kyle. He came over on Christmas Eve and spent the night.

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Ciaran was “Santa’s helper” this year, assisting in the distribution of presents. Apparently this meant getting under the tree.

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Xavier and Laura were making cookies the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

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Finally there’s August at his Cub Scout den meeting this week. They are racing potatoes. Doing it this way, pushing the potato with his nose he came in last. I wish I had gotten pictures of him the previous two races. They put the potato on their foot and had to get to the finish line without the potato falling off their foot. August came in first both times.

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Just Say No To Creepy Valentine Gifts

I got an advertisement in the mail the other day for a personalized item of jewelry to give to my special valentine. Now I’m sure whoever was in charge used some sort of automated search algorithm to match my name with a female’s. Unfortunately this was more along the lines of “Red Dwarf” in regards to the effectiveness. Instead of matching up my name with the person it should, whatever automated name fill-in program what was used just grabbed the female name most often used on my blog (at least that what I assume).

dela valentine jewelry

 

So, thanks, but no thanks. I don’t think I want myself or my daughter to remember Valentine’s Day in any way that this implicates.

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Shirt Follow-Up

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I talked about how a shirt we ordered had not arrived in time for Christmas? Well, it finally arrived, but that’s not the end of it.

Continue reading

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