Ranking the albums of Siouxsie and The Banshees in order of greatness
Siouxsie and The Banshees weren’t exactly a band that rose from the embers of punk, as many would like to believe, more a group forged by the roaring fires of the genre’s first incendiary moments. Taking the stage with a rag-tag band that included Steve Severin on bass and Sid Vicious on drums, the first iteration of Siouxsie Sioux’s band The Banshees took the stage at the first-ever punk festival at The 100 Club in 1976. Ever since that show, a performance which largely consisted of heavy notes and the Lord’s Prayer being yelled at a searingly high volume, the band has been the foreword in avant-garde rock.
A part of the Bromley Contingent, a group of punks who had a rather large hand in the formation of the movement, Siouxsie was always destined to be a star. As well as showing up as part of the Sex Pistols entourage for their iconic four-letter-laden appearance on Bill Grundy’s Today show, Siouxsie has always found ways to cut herself apart from the rest. She has, both with and without her band, been a consistent and continual pursuer of artistic freedom and spreading her message. But, if all this is news to you, and you’re unsure of where to start with Siouxsie and The Banshees eleven album strong discography, then let us guide you as we rank the albums from worst to best.
‘Worst’ may be a little difficult to handle. In truth, The Banshees have had such a varied career and sonic journey that chances are every one of the band’s fans will have a different ranking of the below. And they’ve got a lot of fans too. As a foundational artist for not only post-punk (the industrialised sister of punk) but goth rock (the melodramatic cousin of post-punk) too, The Banshees have become cult favourites and outsider heroes.
Even nearly 45 years after they first became active, Siouxsie and The Banshees are still accruing fans as they continue to appeal to the disaffected youth just as they had done before. Providing a reem of outsider anthems, the band have transcended any genre classification or stylistic categorisation and now operate within a broad Banshees spectrum. Toying with the ferocity of punk, the theatrics of goth and the brute force of post-punk all while managing to skirt the mainstream can be regarded as one of rock music’s miracles.
Across eleven studio albums Siouxsie and The Banshees have proven time and again to be serial creators and musical agitators. Below, we get down to the nitty gritty of confirming which of those classic albums is the best.
Ranking Siouxsie and The Banshees albums worst to best:
11. Superstition (1991)
It’s hard to call any of these albums the ‘worst’ but if there’s one record where you could argue the group were lacking a bit of zip, it is this one. The record does arrive with some luscious string arrangements and a classic single in ‘Kiss Them For Me’ but otherwise, in comparison to the rest of the canon, Superstition falls flat.
Dealing with themes such as obsession, phobia and emotional damage is all par for the course and there are some classic doom-laden tracks for the Banshees pursuit to enjoy.
10. The Rapture (1995)
For a band like Siouxsie and The Banshees, a fiery drive is an essential asset for making an album. One could argue that by the time they came to making 1995’s The Rapture, that fire had begun to burn out. An album split in two parts, the first recorded near Siouxsie and Budgie’s home, the other with Velvet Underground maestro John Cale.
Naturally using a cello as a primary instrument will do that but there was still a certain something that was missing from the LP.
9. Through the Looking Glass (1987)
It’s not often a covers album can be as well-received as 1987’s Through the Looking Glass. Positively packed with notable songs like The Doors’ ‘You’re Lost Little Girl’ and The Modern Lovers’ ‘She Cracked’, it was proof that The Banshees knew what good music was and, more importantly, how to make it.
It may be difficult to think that a band can be incredibly creative with a cover song but the startling thing about this album was how they managed to turn so many different songs into what sounded like an original Banshee creation. Of course, the best cover of the bunch is their version of Iggy Pop’s classic ‘The Passenger’.
8. Join Hands (1979)
The sophomore record for any band is a difficult one but The Banshees showed real promise when they not only delivered a top-quality follow up to their debut but packed it full of a clearer vision of their pathway forward. The band’s sonics had moved from the frenetic into the measured and deliberate, it was a tour de force.
The album’s main inspiration came from World War 1. The group were watching reports of repression and curfews in Iran and saw, for the first time, video of people being shot and killed in real life. In England too, the world was tough according to Siouxsie, it was “a real time, everything in flux and uncertain but also festering underneath, and because this stuff from the past that was just left there rotting there and it needed to be acknowledged and then cleaned up, not just swept away still rotting”
It motivated the band to depict the atrocities of war with a new sound and used the Great War as their further inspiration. It’s harrowing and marvellous at the same time.
7. Hyaena (1984)
It was on this record that the music world finally accepted Siouxsie Sioux as not just a musical agitator but a sublime vocalist. The song ‘Dazzle’ had confirmed that her range was as formidable as anybody and on the rest of the album, the group delivered a choral-like rendition of why they were such an important group.
Now seen as the moment the band hit some kind of mainstream success, Hyaena is also notable for containing perhaps one of the finest Beatles covers of all time with their fearsome version of ‘Dear Prudence’.
6. The Scream (1978)
You only get one shot at a good first impression and for Siouxsie Sioux and The Banshees, they delivered that impression like a straight jab to the jaw. Buoyed by the brutishness of punk, The Banshees had already to add an arthouse mystique to their sound which elevated their role within the scene. With The Scream, they became leading figures overnight.
While punk had been built on the back of buzzsaw riffs, The Banshees with Steve Severin on bass, used his skills to provide a deep rhythm that no other group was attempting. It would undoubtedly become one of post-punk’s first moments on record and preceded many of the genre’s other greats. Influential and inspirational to this day.
5. A Kiss in the Dreamhouse (1982)
1982’s A Kiss in the Dreamhouse is a foundational moment in the band’s legacy. The first time the group ditched guitars for strings proved that The Banshees weren’t just another new wave band looking to piggyback on the posturing of punk. No, this was a group who had artistic intent and musical integrity.
A critical and commercial success upon its release, the album’s prestige has only gained extra weight during the last decades. A feat of imagination that had scarcely been achieved before, the album was a breathtaking release in 1982 and left those who had predicted The Banshees demise ripping up their betting slips.
4. Tinderbox (1986)
Released in 1986, the band’s seventh studio album would prove to be one of their finest as they welcomed new band member John Carruthers and began to assert themselves on a grander stage. Beloved for its lead single ‘Cities in Dust’ the album was a refreshing sound still drenched in the style of the group that provided it.
While the aforementioned song is rightly seen as the standout moment on the album tracks like ‘Candyman,’ Cannons’ and ‘Parties Fall’ are all rich piece of the band’s iconography previewing their bittersweet perspective on the world and the dark twists those views usual take. Listen to this one with headphones and listen loud, you’re about to get lost in the world of The Banshees.
3. Kaleidoscope (1980)
When Budgie, the influential drummer, arrives to join the band you know something is going right. “It was almost a different band,” said Siouxsie, reflecting on both Budgie and John McGeogh’s appointments. The album itself was, as the name suggests, a whirlwind spin of different themes, fragments of styles and a holistic view of creation. Designed to be somewhat unquantifiable, it remains the band’s most successful LP in Britain, charting at number 5.
The diversity of the album was something that would go on to shape their band’s entire legacy. Never keen to sit still for too long, the two singles from the LP ‘Happy House’ and ‘Christine’ proved that the group could hit either end of the spectrum should they wish to. With the band’s imagination running will on this album, they provided iron-clad proof of their upcoming notoriety.
2. Peepshow (1988)
To assimilate one’s love for this album just be revisiting the single ‘The Killing Jar’ is all well and good—it’s a damn fine single. But to ignore the ginormous variety offered okiss n this record, the wild creativity and the employment of some many production techniques would be to ignore exactly why The Banshees are still so beloved today.
The unpredictable orchestrations within the LP highlighted the band as avant-garde heroes of rock. Not content with hitting the same old patterns, the group instead used the notions of jazz and classical music to push the boundaries of the modern palette. By doing so, the band create a visionary album that not only paves the way of the future but painted one of the group’s most vivid sonic landscapes.
A swirling circus of an album, this is one to enjoy alone as the rivets of industrialised punk and the smell of disturbed pop take over.
1. Juju (1981)
Having become one of the pivotal figures in punk rock during the late seventies, by the early part of the next decade, Siouxsie and her band were beginning to find their own feet and creating a brand new sound of their own.
In 1981 they released the brilliant Juju and it signified a big change, not only in The Banshees’ sound but in the culture of Britain entirely. The brazen and bratty side of punk had resided and now there was something more artistic awaiting the group. With Steve Severin’s basslines and Siouxsie’s theatrical vocals, the move into something new was always likely to be a touch darker.
There are hits all over the LP too. ‘Spellbound’ and ‘Arabian Knights’ are obvious bangers while a similarly dark territory is explored on ‘Voodoo Dolly’ and ‘Night Shift’, as two fine pieces of goth-pop gone right. While the album was just a stepping stone for the band towards their neo-psyche-pop stardom, the LP is a clear cultural touchpoint for any fledgeling goth.