The Scream (album)
|Studio album by Siouxsie and the Banshees|
|Released||13 November 1978|
|Producer||Siouxsie and the Banshees, Steve Lillywhite|
|Siouxsie and the Banshees chronology|
The Scream is the debut studio album by English post-punk band Siouxsie and the Banshees, released in November 1978 on Polydor Records. Even before this release, the band already had a strong reputation as a live act as well as having a Top 10 UK single under their belt with "Hong Kong Garden" (which did not appear on the original album).
The Scream was an almost instant commercial success, peaking at number 12 in the UK Albums Chart. The album was also a critical success and is now regarded as a landmark of post-punk.
Background and music
In late 1977 and early 1978, the band received major press coverage but they didn't manage to get a recording deal. A fan embarked on a graffiti campaign in London in which all the walls of the major record companies were sprayed with the words "Sign the Banshees: do it now". Polydor finally signed them in June.
The Scream was recorded in one week and mixed in three. The band was in the studio in August while their debut single "Hong Kong Garden" was released. Most of the songs were co-written with John McKay, who had become their guitarist in July 1977. Only "Carcass" dates from the band's time with Peter Fenton, their guitarist from January to July 1977.
Music historian Clinton Heylin explained that the "recruitment of guitarist John McKay" along with "the formation of Magazine and PiL" between "August 1977 and May 1978" marked the "true starting-point for English post-punk". Siouxsie wanted the Banshees' music to be "cinematic"; the razor-sharp, slashing strings of Bernard Herrmann's score to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho particularly inspired the band for the music of "Suburban Relapse", where the guitars echo to the knife-screeching violins of the famous shower scene.
The Scream was reissued in the UK on 27 October 2005 (28 October in the USA) as part of Universal's Deluxe Edition series. The new edition featured a remastered version of the album on the first disc, while the second disc contained demo and live tracks together with the singles from that period. A single-disc edition of the reissue was released in 2006 with a noticeable digital distortion; a flawless remastered version was issued in its place in 2007.
|Rolling Stone||very favourable|
Upon its release, The Scream received almost unanimously positive reviews. Critics in the British and American press generally agreed that the album was a landmark of its time and that the band's willingness to experiment made it a challenging listen.
The Scream was hailed as "the best debut album of the year" 1978 by Sounds. Critic Peter Silverton gave the album five stars out of five. The other reviews were also very positive. Melody Maker described the sound as "strong, abrasive, visceral and constantly inventive, with a thrust that makes the spaces equal partners to the notes", with the critic comparing the album's textures to that of Wire and Pere Ubu. ZigZag qualified it as a "magnificent record", with reviewer Kris Needs writing: "I can't think of another group who could have made an LP so uncompromising, powerful and disturbing, yet so captivating and enjoyable [...] It is certainly a special classic to join milestones like [David Bowie's] Diamond Dogs, Roxy [Music]'s first and [Lou Reed's] Berlin. This is music of such strength and vision that you just can't not be moved by the time they swing into the final climactic passage of 'Switch', the closing track." Needs qualified the sound as "huge, sometimes awe-inspiring" and commenting that drummer Morris created "one of the best drum sounds I've ever heard – the deep echo and floor-shuddering mix accentuating his muted Glitter Band stomp".
Several journalists from NME also praised the record. Nick Kent first stated that the band sounded "like some unique hybrid of The Velvet Underground mated with much of the ingenuity of Tago Mago-era Can." He then focused his attention to the opening track and said: "'Pure' takes the sound to its ultimate juncture, leaving spaces that say as much as the notes being played. Certainly, the traditional three-piece sound has never been used in a more unorthodox fashion with such stunning results." In December 1978, another critic from NME, Paul Morley, described the music on The Scream as "unlike anything in rock":
It is not, as some would say, chaotic – it is controlled. Each instrument operates within its own space, its own time, as if mocking the lines of other instruments. Known rock is inverted, leaving just traces of mimickry of rock's cliches – satire that often bursts with glorious justification into shaking celebration (as on "Helter Skelter"). It is easy to gain attention by doing something which is crudely obviously out of the ordinary, but the Banshees have avoided such futile superficialities: it is innovation, not revolution, not a destruction but new building. It has grown out of rock – Velvets, Station to Station, Bolan. And Siouxsie's staggering voice is dropped, clipped, snapped prominently above this audacious musical drama, emphasizing the dark colours and empty, naked moods.
Writer Don Watson later pictured it in the NME as "something that whipped the past into a great whirlpool of noise, pulling the future down."
Rolling Stone gave a very favourable review: "On their spare but striking debut album, England's Siouxsie and the Banshees deftly meld the edgy, death-rattle guitar and walloping drums of the best post-punk bands with the soaring vocals and shivery power chords of the oft-maligned early Jefferson Airplane. The Scream's sound, stark though fully realized (thanks partly to a most simpatico co-producer, Steve Lillywhite), is lent added intellectual dimension by a series of disturbingly ambiguous lyrical images".
Since its release, The Scream has received a number of accolades from the music press. Uncut magazine placed it at number 43 in their list of the 100 greatest debut albums. It was featured in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
The Scream had a strong impact on other musicians. Massive Attack covered and sampled "Metal Postcard (Mittageisen)" on their song "Superpredators (Metal Postcard)" in 1997 for the soundtrack to the movie The Jackal. Morrissey had "Mirage" play during intermission before all concerts of his 1991's Kill Uncle tour. Morrissey's main composer Boz Boorer also rated The Scream highly, ranking it second in his "Top Five Desert Island Album Selection". Garbage lead singer Shirley Manson told Melody Maker that she has a special liking for this record. The Scream was also hailed by the singer of Suede, Brett Anderson.
|1.||"Pure"||Siouxsie Sioux, Steven Severin, John McKay, Kenny Morris||1:50|
|2.||"Jigsaw Feeling"||Severin||Severin, McKay||4:39|
|4.||"Carcass"||Sioux, Severin, Peter Fenton||3:49|
|5.||"Helter Skelter"||John Lennon, Paul McCartney||Lennon, McCartney||3:46|
|7.||"Metal Postcard (Mittageisen)"||Sioux||Sioux, McKay||4:14|
|8.||"Nicotine Stain"||Sioux||Sioux, Severin||2:58|
|9.||"Suburban Relapse"||Sioux||Sioux, McKay||4:12|
|CD reissue bonus tracks|
|11.||"Hong Kong Garden (7" A-side)"||Sioux||Sioux, Severin, McKay, Morris|
|12.||"The Staircase (Mystery) (7" A-side)"||Sioux||Sioux, Severin, McKay, Morris|
|2005 Deluxe Edition bonus disc|
|1.||"Make Up to Break Up (Riverside Session)"|
|2.||"Love in a Void (Peel Session 1)"|
|3.||"Mirage (Peel Session 1)"|
|4.||"Metal Postcard (Mittageisen) (Peel Session 1)"|
|5.||"Suburban Relapse (Peel Session 1)"|
|6.||"Hong Kong Garden (Peel Session 2)"|
|7.||"Overground (Peel Session 2)"|
|8.||"Carcass (Peel Session 2)"|
|9.||"Helter Skelter (Peel Session 2)"|
|10.||"Metal Postcard (Pathway Session)"|
|11.||"Suburban Relapse (Pathway Session)"|
|12.||"The Staircase (Mystery) (Pathway Session)"|
|13.||"Mirage (Pathway Session)"|
|14.||"Nicotine Stain (Pathway Session)"|
|15.||"Hong Kong Garden (7" Single Version)"|
|16.||"The Staircase (Mystery) (7" Single Version)"|
- Siouxsie and the Banshees
- Siouxsie Sioux – vocals, production
- Steven Severin – bass guitar, production
- John McKay – guitars, saxophone, production
- Kenny Morris – drums, percussion, production
- Steve Lillywhite – production
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