After the departure of John McGeoch from the Banshees after suffering a nervous breakdown at a gig in Madrid, Robert Smith of The Cure was recruited a second time into Wonderland to join his hand on guitar for the highly experimental Siouxsie and the Bashees’ record, Hyaena, which was released on June 8th, 1984.
Smith was still recovering from the emotional anguish of Pornography (which led to Simon Gallup leaving The Cure, a major reason for the band’s hiatus). This was a pivotal moment, as this was the period where Robert Smith fully developed his trademark big backcombed hair and red lipstick, possibly influenced by being part of Siouxsie’s entourage, and hanging out at The Batcave.
The record was released June 8th, 1984, and on it Smith’s presence is starkly felt through the glamourous Dazzle, a track that incorporated strings for the very first time, heralding the later release of the “Thorne” EP)
The single “Swimming Horses”—from which not only do we have an excellent piano composition from Mr. Smith, but perhaps the most sorrowful lyrics ever penned by miss Siouxsie Sioux:
“This is based on a programme I saw about a female version of Amnesty, called ‘Les Sentinelles’. They rescue women who are trapped in certain religious climates in the Middle East, religions that view any kind of pre-marital sexual aspersion as punishable by death – either by the hand of the eldest brother in the family, or by public stoning. And there was this instance of a woman whose daughter had developed a tumour, and, of course, gossip abounded that she was pregnant. The doctor who removed the tumour allowed her to take it back to the village to prove that, no, it wasn’t a baby – but they wouldn’t believe her. The woman knew her daughter would have to be stoned to death so she poisoned her, out of kindness, to save her from a worse fate. Now this organisation has all these escape routes for women like her, mainly through the elder brother who pretends to have killed them. But once they’ve been saved, they can never go back. So the song starts, Kinder than with poison… I also used the imagery of, He gives birth to swimming horses, from the fact that male sea horses give birth to the children, so they’re the only species that have a maternal feel for the young. It was, I suppose, an abstract way of linking it all together without being sensationalist. I remember just being really moved by that programme, and wanting to get the sorrow out of me”
Check out in the live video from The Tube above opening with the western themed ‘Running Town’, which continues the motif in the Ennio Morricone meets Salome’s Seven Veils composition ‘Bring Me The Head Of The Preacher Man’, and finally, closing with ”Blow The House Down’ featuring some of Smith’s finest guitar work.
BONUS: Watch the Banshee’s Play At Home