Juju, the fourth studio album from Siouxsie and the Banshees, was released on June 6th 1981 and features two of the band’s best singles: “Spellbound” and “Arabian Knights”. Juju is often considered to the band’s finest work, fully utilizing the genius of John McGeoch’s innovative guitar playing—following his introduction on 1980’s Kaleidoscope.
“Arabian Knights” features a playful video that features Siouxsie as a witch riding a magic carpet in the desert, while the other band members fence inside an Iwan.
The song’s composition juxtapozed with the playful nature to the video belies the controversial lyrics, which is representative of Siouxsie Sioux’s fierce feminist critiques of the treatment of women in an Islamic culture, that financed by oil. was at the time often wrapped in an exotic tourist’s mystique.
“Arabian Knights” may have been the only truly controversial track on the album, but the record surely did not shy away from dark subject matter not unlike the preceding album Kaleidoscope. The track “Monitor” featuring McGeoch’s hypnotic guitar distortions, is imbued with prescient lyrics which evoke some sort of J.G. Ballard mutation of Orwellian concepts through the voyeurism of a CCTV footage. The song ultimately heralds the upcoming appetite for reality tv 2 decades later, while at the same time conceptually alluding to indulgence of a snuff film.
Following “Monitor” is the eerie exercise in gothic suspense “Night Shift” which is was based on the crimes of Peter Sutcliffe, aka the Yorkshire Ripper. This song, along with the tracks “Sin In My Heart”, “Head Cut” and “Voodoo Dolly”, mark the second half of Juju’s decent into darkness.
But the true highlights of the album are it’s first tracks, such as “Into the Light”, featuring the strong and memorable interplay of Steven Severin’s basslines with the astonishing guitar riff from McGeoch, that impresses still even though it follows one of the the greatest guitar riffs of all time (according to Thom Yorke, and Johnny Marr) featured on the masterfull “Spellbound”.
The album also features a song called “Halloween”, which leaves no question that weather you want to argue that Siouxsie and the Banshees are a “goth” band or not, that Juju is the greatest work of gothic rock of all time.
Watch above the full 1981 Juju era concert from Rockpalast below: