THEIR BIGGEST SELLING 45 : A COVER FROM 1983

Here’s another quiz question I’d have got wrong.

Siouxsie and The Banshees released 30 singles between 1978 and 1995 – how many of then went Top 40?

The answer is 18……my guess would have been much higher than that, I’d likely have gone for 25 as I can’t recall too many flops.

Turns out that a number of the songs I had always assumed had been chart hits were nothing of the sort – Metal Postcard (Mittageisen), Israel, Slowdive and Melt! all stalled in the 40s as too did their admittedly limp version of The Passenger.

Possibly even more surprising is that just five of their singles have cracked the Top 20, of which two were cover versions, including what proved to be their biggest selling 45 back in 1983:-

mp3 : Siouxsie & The Banshees – Dear Prudence

This got to #3 and it was all over the music press that it was a cover of a song by The Beatles that had originally appeared on The White Album. I was glad to have been furnished with such info as, back in 83, I hadn’t heard the original. And here’s the thing…….36 years on, I still haven’t! This isn’t the time nor place to go into great detail as to why I have no great affection for the works of Harrison, Lennon, McCartney and Starr – the songs I do know of theirs tend to be the ones that got heavy rotation on the radio as I was growing up (i.e. the hit singles) and Dear Prudence, which wiki tells me was written for Prudence Farrow, the sister of the actress Mia Farrow, was an album track only.

The hit came when the Banshees were going through a difficult but extremely productive period. John McGeoch, whose guitar work was so important to their sound, had succumbed to the rigours of touring, and combined with the first signs of what would become full-blown alcoholism in later years, had suffered a nervous breakdown on stage in Madrid in late 82 which led to him being fired and Robert Smith being asked in as his replacement. He accepted but only on the basis that he could continue to perform with The Cure.

1983 was some year to try to keep up with everything that was happening.

Siouxsie and Budgie resurrected The Creatures two years after the hit debut EP and found themselves enjoying a Top 20 debut album in Feast.

Steve Severin and Robert Smith were the principal members of The Glove but their two singles and album from that year were relative flops.

The Cure enjoyed the fruits from the singles compilation Japanese Whispers with The Walk giving them their first Top 20 hit and its follow-up The Love Cats doing even better by reaching #7

The Banshees spent much of the year recording Hyaena, although it wouldn’t be released until May 1984; they kept their own profile up amidst all this activity with the release of Dear Prudence as a stand-alone 45 in September and Nocturne, a live album from two shows at the Royal Albert Hall in London performed on successive nights on 30 September and 1 October.

It’s no real surprise that Robert Smith, on the point of complete exhaustion, left the Banshees just before Hyaena was released and the extensive promotional work that was associated with it.

Looking back, there’s a case to be made for an ICA from that year, comprising the side projects, the live album and the one-off single. It would, by its nature, be a patchwork affair, but there would be more than enough to keep most satisfied. Instead, I’ll stick to just offering the two tracks from the 12” single:-

mp3 : Siouxsie & The Banshees – Tattoo
mp3 : Siouxsie & The Banshees – There’s A Planet In My Kitchen

The former is a paean to inky designs on the skin and is something of a grower…..the latter has a wonderful title – the ‘tune’ doesn’t quite match its majesty and it could well be the most out-there thing the band ever did!

All tracks were produced by Mike Hedges, who himself would have a busy year working with The Beat, The Undertones, Southern Death Cult as well as The Creatures and the Banshees, all the while basking in the glorious work he’d done the previous year on Sulk by Associates, an album which has a big influence on the three songs on Dear Prudence

JC

11 thoughts on “THEIR BIGGEST SELLING 45 : A COVER FROM 1983

  1. Hmm, would’ve thought the Banshees would have had a lot more chart success in the UK. I remember liking their version of ‘Prudence’ but was disappointed with Hyaena. McGeoch really was a unique talent–everything he did with Magazine, the Banshees and PiL was great–and the band had to reshape itself without him.

  2. I must point out that the B-side of the first single by The Glove (Like an animal) is one of the best pop songs ever recorded by RS, Mouth To Mouth.
    Note I post this as a fact. 😉

  3. I too would have thought they would have had more higher-charting UK hits. Still, the hits they did have – not matter the placing – superb. I’m more of a fan of the late 70s / early 80s works and I stuck with them till Hyaena which has one of the very best opening tracks on an LP, Dazzle.

    I loved Dear Prudence. However, their version of The Beatles Helter Skelter is one of my all time favourite Banshees songs (The Scream LP) . It’s reassuring to read that I am not the only one that is not a fan of the flab four.

    Nocturne remains one of my favourite live video/filmed performances.

    I’d like to give Il est né, le divin Enfant an airing. A double a-side (remember those?) with Melt! It is nothing short of majestic.

    This article hit all the right notes for me …

    Siouxise and the Basnshees
    The Asscociates
    The Undertones
    The Cure
    Southern Death Cult

    What’s not to like?

  4. Even better than the A-Side, Martin? Must listen to it once I get home … and if it ever comes to an ICA, ‘Like An Animal’ M.U.S.T. be included … at least as far as I’m concerned …

  5. Dirk – In my eyes, yes without a doubt! And it has Robert singing as if I remember correctly he could for contractual reasons not do the lead vocals on any of the singles. Like an animal has Landray on vocals.

  6. I’m curious about that too, JC. Maybe it was uncool to like the Beatles in the UK because they were such omnipresent megastars. There are a bunch of major north American bands I could never listen to for that reason (looking at you Aerosmith, Rush, Journey, Eagles & co). But the Beatles were before our time–do you have a specific gripe or do you just not like their tunes?

  7. One of the finest bands from the seventies/ eighties but who frequently seem to be overlooked in retrospectives of the period. Perhaps the remarkable development that they underwent, leading to there being no single discernible sound (beyond Siouxsie’s vocals). While this is not one of my favourite singles, anything by them is usually better than that which surrounds it. Definitely the case when looking at the upper reaches of the charts. It is really disappointing to realise how poorly most of the singles after this did. At least Peek-A-Boo reached the top 20!

  8. First, I completely understand having an natural aversion to The Beatles. Honestly, it isn’t something you can really justify with words. It’s just a natural feeling. I can say that there is something to say for the ridiculous size of their popularity that immediately turns me off.
    On to the Banshees… It doesn’t really surprise me that there weren’t more SATB Top 40 hits. I suppose that I never expect any band that I truly love to be “popular” in a chart sense.
    I have a great affection for the Banshees take on Dear Prudence, it wraps the song in a sort of dark psychedelia, where the original uncomfortably straddles sweet Pop and “innocent” psychedelia.
    Since Hyaena was brought up, I have to raise my hand as a huge fan of the album. While Bob Smith’s guitars may have been mixed down in the final production of the album, his imprint is found across the album’s tracks. And as for Dazzle, I have to agree with Flimflamfan when he writes that it is one of the great opening tracks of all time. It is certainly an album without the sound of John McGeoch, but Siouxsie and Severin, along with Mike Hedges forged a very successful first step at a new sound and an enhanced identity.

  9. Saw them live with Fat Bob back in the day and they were amazing. Still don’t know how he managed to juggle so many different projects – *he* should have been having the nervous breakdown! 😀

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