Monday, March 30, 2009

'80s Monday: Siouxsie & the Banshees

Siouxsie & and the Banshees were never popular in the US (They only had two "Hot 100" singles, and their best-selling album only reached #65), but they were pretty big in the UK. Kids today (the ones with good taste) may look back and say how good '80s music was, but what they don't realize is how hard it was to find good music back then. There was a huge divide from the mid-'70s through about 1991 (thank you, Nirvana) between what was popular and what was good.

Radio was the main place people heard new music during the '80s, and most radio was awful then. It was hard to find the good stuff. It wasn't on the radio in most of America. You could hear a little of it on MTV (mixed in with an awful lot of awful crap). If you were lucky, you lived where you could hear a college radio station that played good music sometimes. If you were really lucky, you lived within range of a station like 91X in San Diego. But to kids in most of the country, bands like Siouxsie & the Banshees -- good bands, IOW -- were mostly just a rumor. (You kids today don't know how lucky you are, with your MP30s and your Intertubes and YouWebs, grumble-mumble-grumble.)

OK, enough of that, here's some music.

"Cities in Dust" (1985) isn't necessarily typical Siouxsie & the Banshees -- it's a little more pop -- but it's one of my favorite songs by them. It's about the destruction of Pompeii, which is a pretty strange topic for a pop song. At least, I've always thought so. I remember listening to the lyrics and thinking, "WTF?! That sounds like it's about Pompeii." And so it was.

"Melt" (1982) is probably a little more typical. Kind of gloomy and Goth, with a strong melody and a solid hook. And yes, that's Robert Smith playing the 12-string guitar.

Siouxsie & the Banshees also did some really good covers. This is Iggy Pop's "The Passenger" (1987).

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