Siouxsie And The Banshees - Juju
It was to be a few years before the band's musical identity became apparent. It took an album by the Damned (The Black Album) and single by Bauhaus (Bela Lugosi's Dead) to make it so - Siouxsie and the Banshees were not only part of, but quite probably the progenitors of what became known as Gothic rock. Siouxsie and the Banshees cemented their place in that particular little club with the 1981 release of Juju. And so here I am, over thirty years later, reviewing the re-mastered and extended CD, the latest in a (brief) line of Goth albums I have been catching up on once again in recent months.
I always found the Goths generally to be too far up their own backsides to be taken that seriously. When they were good, such as in the Cure's Pornography, they were good, but the oft-touted greatest exponents - the Cult and especially the Sisters of Mercy left me a bit perplexed. Luckily, Juju fits very much into the former category. It cracks off with the spellbinding "Spellbound" (see what I did there?), a track which allows Siouxsie's distinctive voice to soar and rage like no other track. Behind it lies a thumping drum while the shimmering guitar work of John McGeogh is at its best. My personal favourite on the album is "Arabian Nights" which features similar qualities to "Spellbound" but has a more coherent lyrical feel to it.
Other tracks on the album worth mentioning include "Into the Night" which has some quite incredible guitar work on it and some excellent drumming using non-standard time signatures. "Sin in My Heart" struggles to get going but when it does it becomes a model of chaotic restraint, always on the verge of breaking out of the confines in which the band have placed it. The final two tracks from the original album are perhaps the most outstanding, though not in the way in which that word is normally used. "Head Cut" is just downright weird. Nightmarish lyrics delivered in an almost cheerful (well, for the Banshees anyway) become unsettling with every listen. Finally, "Voodoo Dolly" is the longest track on the album, over seven minutes of creepy vocals, stark guitars and discordant musical themes.
The bonus tracks on this CD are the real bonus however. There are two twelve inch version of the singles which feature on the original album, "Spellbound" and "Arabian Nights", both of which amplify the quality of the originals. Finally, there is the early version of one of the band's later classic singles, "Fireworks", and it is very interesting to hear how this matches up to the version eventually put out which, to be honest I was not that impressed with.
And yet, this CD leaves me feeling disappointed in some ways. The principal blame for that can be laid at the feet of whoever it was who did the remastering. Frankly, the remastering is rubbish. The drums are too heavy and with unnecessary reverb. The guitars have been toned down so that some of the jarring sound, so essential to the Banshees' sound, was lost. There even appears to be occasions when the mixing has put too much through one channel so that, especially when listening to it on headphones, it seems lopsided. That is a real pity. An album like this should benefit from better production, especially in this day and age, and suffers from the lack of it as a consequence.
User Reviews and CommentsLog In or Register to Rate Albums
Tell us why this album is great or sucks ass, or correct the reviewer. If you write enough quality reviews you may find yourself on the editorial staff.
Reviews have to be over 100 words, shorter ones are classed as comments.