Siouxsie And The Banshees
Hong Kong Garden
A lot of people have been waiting for a long time for this disc, while punk’s self-styled enfant terrible played cat-and-mouse with a music industry she openly regards with contempt and disdain. Siouxsie’s got a point. The record companies who decide what you’re going to be able to buy are often reactionary and staid and can be accused of manipulating the populace. But
then she isn’t entirely blameless on that last count herself. If you really think The Banshees spent the past year in a contractless limbo because their music was too near the edge, then you
must spend a lot of your time going round walking into walls. The Banshees have fans, lots of them, and no record company worth its salt would pass up the chance to sell them records.
And what about releasing a record themselves? Don’t they know the old mass access argument hardly applies any more? But here it is, a brash, delirious two-chord triumph that I would never have thought them capable of, being not in the least enamoured of their facile attempts at creating radical music. ‘Hong Kong Garden’, a longtime stage favourite, is a bright, vivid narrative, something like snapshots from the window of a speeding Japanese train, powercharged by the most original, intoxicating guitar playing I’ve heard in a long, long time.
Would you believe it’s going to be played on the radio? Would you believe Siouxsie on Top Of The Pops? Would you believe not one mention of Blondie… oops.
mp3: Siouxsie And The Banshees - Hong Kong Garden
(Genetic Records Demo Session - Eden Studios, London, March 1979)
Dance, dance, dance to the radio! A bass guitar slowly stirs and quivers. A relentless, dipping riff gathers momentum and sweeps its way into a spiralling electric guitar as a distant drummer
pumps out strict Can doublebeats. This is an awesome disc, scaling the heights fellow Mancunians Magazine merely hinted at in ‘Shot By Both Sides’. Ian Curtis provides regular Iggy-style grunted vocal interjections while the simmering production – again the work of
Martin ‘Zero’ Hannett – is crisp enough to push ‘Transmission’ into the chart. With the right breaks, this could easily be a hit!
mp3: Joy Division - Transmission
In the Flat Field Peter Murphy blows his cool badly and reveals a hidden yearning to be Mike Yarwood. Quite good facsimile of Bowie’s voice, but maybe he’d be better off doing Robin Day or Dennis Healy next time. Inexplicable.
mp3: Bauhaus - Ziggy Stardust
THE BIRTHDAY PARTY
Three-minute horror movie soundtracks of jarring insensitivity by a band who’ve overcome my inherent distrust of Australians with a series of hugely entertaining interviews. Both tracks here wield similar characteristics – brutal and bloody amid a volley of drums and arrogant bravado.The Birthday Party are the kind of boys who bopped the teacher while the rest of the class sniggered and played with their geometry sets. They certainly ain’t pretty, but they’re a welcome antidote to the age of Ultravox.
mp3: Birthday Party - Blast Off
THE SISTERS OF MERCY
They’re sounding not unlike The Psychedelic Furs, this group – he said, crushing their chances of a fair hearing in one fell swoop. No, don’t be put off. This is dark and powerful stuff from
Yorkshire’s Sisters. Maybe a bit too dense for extended listening, but this much I like a lot. And a big improvement on their ‘Adrenochrome’ debut.
mp3: Sister of Mercy - Alice
Thankfully the Cocteaus have discarded the “Noddy and Tinkerbell indulge in sensual massage” approach that so exasperated semi-fans like me who always wanted Liz Frazer to kick vocal ass a little. JC: “That’s quite good for them.” BD: “The Cocteau Twins have never given a fuck about what’s happening around them. They just get on and do what they do and they seem to the getting better at it. Attitude matters just as much as the music in most cases.”
mp3: Cocteau Twins - Iceblink Luck
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