On September 5th, 1988 Siouxsie and the Banshees released their 9th studio album Peepshow. The album was their first record as a quintet—with the addition of multi-instrumentalist Martin McCarrick—a Batcave comrade who had been performing off and on with the band since as early as the Thorn EP and on The Glove side project.
On making the album Siouxsie told NME in a 1988 interview:
“This record was very easy, possibly the easiest of all the Banshees albums. I felt I was literally kicking away the crutches. If it goes wrong, it goes wrong, f**** it, let’s at least DO it. It’s very important to scare yourself into doing things, gets the adrenalin going. Some people’s fear paralyses them. I’ve managed to be motivated by it.” (The quality of Not Giving A F*** is of course the first pre-requisite of any legendary Pop Group.)
‘Peepshow’ is full of film references, Michael Powell and Ken Russell on ‘Peek-A-Boo’, Dennis Potter on ‘Scarecrow’ (a guess), Nicolas Roeg’s Eureka on ‘Ornaments Of Gold’ (along with Klimt and Cleopatra): “Adorable, rewardable you/Id like to cover you and smother you with ornaments of god”
“Yes Eureka’s a big part of it, I love that film. That song’s about imagining adornment, intoxication. I wish people were more exotic with one another. I was flicking through The Koran, a book there called ‘Ornaments Ornaments Of Gold’, saying ‘Don’t look for riches on earth, you’ll get them in Heaven’, which is just keeping people who’ve got nothing content. The song’s saying why not have both”
Of the other songs, ‘Killing Jar’ (surprisingly remixed as the new single), ‘Scarecrow’ and ‘Rhapsody’ provide the inevitable evidence that when the Banshees are obvious or ordinary they are very bad indeed. What’s good about the much-maligned ‘Rawhead & Bloodybones’ (reaching from dark cupboard) – like the new B-side ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ – is that not only does it’s quirky disturbance resolve the perennial Side Two Track Three dilemma, but it shows the Banshees taking on their own clichés, despite everything.
“I did think about whether it should go on the album, yes, but then if I wasn’t interested in those things I wouldn’t write it. To call it pure weird just shows how big people’s misconceptions about us are.”
After 12 years the Banshees’ lyrical obsessions – desire and disgust, flesh and bone, sin, death, possession – remain although Siouxsie’s contributions are not the shell they used to be. Nevertheless, the Banshees again seem to be saying very little behind the cloud of familiar perfumed imagery: ‘needles and sins’, ‘majestic’, ‘imperial’, ‘lament’, ‘shadowplay’, ‘serenade’, ‘rapture’, ‘rhapsody’…
“I think they are saying something, obviously. A lot of those are Steve’s. Mine are more physical now perhaps. ‘Rhapsody’ is deliberately rich. It’s about Shostakovitch, a really sad man, who was victimised, ridiculed and then broken by the Stalin regime. I love his music, really powerful. The song’s about wishing you could have been a consolation to him.”
The album included the singles “Peek-a-Boo”
and The Killing Jar
- The Killing Jar
- Ornaments Of Gold
- Turn To Stone
- Rawhead And Bloodybones
- The Last Beat Of My Heart