Siouxsie and the Banshees – Nocturne

Nocturne live albums1983 Geffen Records

I can still remember getting this album as a senior in high school at Paradise Records and Tapes in Baton Rouge, LA just off the LSU campus.  Paradise isn’t there any more, but man do I have a lot of great memories of that place, from going in every Tuesday to check out the new releases (mainly metal) to store owner (and all ’round good dude) Sam Irwin tolerating me playing some metal albums on the store sound system when I worked there.

This album is my very first memory from there and I still laugh when I think about it.  Being a metalhead and rockhead, I was more than unfamiliar with Siouxsie and the Banshees other than their name at that time.  When I walked in the store, I heard a song playing that sounded to me like a live Robert Plant recording and asked the store clerk if that was a new Robert Plant live album.


The fact that she didn’t laugh hysterically at the question is a minor miracle, but hey I was a senior in high school and wasn’t well versed in very much music outside of my beloved heavy metal and classic rock.  And she was quite pretty…I believe her name was Eileen Vicknair…and she was very nice when she told me that it wasn’t Robert Plant, but rather a woman named Siouxsie Sioux.  For the life of me, when I listen to the album today I don’t know how the hell I thought it was Robert Plant singing.

The song was Night Shift and the album was Nocturne, their double live album.   It wasn’t until several years later that I could begin to appreciate the album as a whole rather than just a handful of songs.  With each passing year it sounds better and better and I have to rate it as one of my favorite live albums of all time.   Very few live recordings can create a mood the way this one does.  Absolutely engaging and at times spine chilling.

This is Siouxsie and the Banshees at their goth best, all songs sounding better with a totally committed live treatment.  Drummer Budgie steals the show at times (especially on the concert video) with his adroit and ambidextrious creation of rhythm, while Robert Smith of the Cure uses his guitar for color, shade, texture and overall mood.  A bass, drums, guitar trio of sound unlike much of what you’ve ever heard, this is pure classic from opener Israel to Melt!, Painted Bird, Cascade, Sin In My Heart, the aforementioned Night Shift…I could name them all.  Even more cool is the inclusion of Pulled to Bits, a track which is actually debuted here live.  Why don’t bands do that anymore?

If you want a live album that actually takes you somewhere and makes the mood real, you’ll be hard pressed to find one better than this.  Criminally overlooked and vital listening!

Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Download Nocturne here

Buy Nocturne CD here

Siouxsie & the Banshees – Tinderbox

tinderbox 1986 Geffen Records

Thanks to my friend Mac Haik for introducing me to this disc back in 1986.   I first heard of Siouxsie & the Banshees by accident while in a record (yeah…VINYL, baybeeeeee!) store that had Siouxsie’s live CD Nocturne playing.   The song playing was Night Shift, which is to this day one of my Siouxsie faves, and I remember thinking that her voice sounded like (lol) Robert Plant!

I wound up buying the CD and then bought Tinderbox after Mac played the album for me.  This was a sound unlike anything I’d ever heard before…dark, mysterious, inherently romantic in its sound, and intelligent.    Side one (that’s old-tyme vinyl LP talk for all you youngin’s) is, in my opinion, one of the best sides of music ever recorded, the first 4 tracks showing a diversity of rhythms and a colorful palette of sounds.

Candyman kicks things off in style with raucous uptempo snare snaps, then there is The Sweetest Chill, which is the highlight of the disc for me.  Just the most darkly beautiful song I’ve ever heard.  The song title says it all, as does the title of the next song This Unrest, which is both hypnotic and unsettling while being an enjoyable listen.

Cities in Dust is probably the best known track here, while the remainder of the songs impressively fill out what is a truly amazing and atmospheric album, expertly walking the fine line between underground credibility and smart pop sensibility.    Of the remaining tracks, Cannons and Party’s Fall are my faves, accentuating the diversity and experimentation of this unique band.

I dunno…this is one of those discs that sounds fresh now 23 years after the fact.

Extra props for really colorful and creative guitar sounds all over these songs.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5