Kaleidoscope (Siouxsie and the Banshees album)
|Studio album by Siouxsie and the Banshees|
|Released||1 August 1980|
PVC (original US release)
Geffen (1984 US reissue)
Siouxsie and the Banshees
|Siouxsie and the Banshees chronology|
|Singles from Kaleidoscope|
Kaleidoscope is the third studio album by British alternative rock band Siouxsie and the Banshees, released in 1980 by record label Polydor. With the departure of John McKay and Kenny Morris and their replacement by two new musicians, Budgie on drums and John McGeoch on guitars, the band changed their musical direction and offered an album containing a wide variety of colors. "It was almost a different band", said Siouxsie.
Background and music
Following the departure of McKay and Morris, the band regrouped and redirected their sound for their third record. Departing from their previous work, the Banshees incorporated synthesizers and drum machines for the first time. They particularly experimented in electronic music on a couple of tracks: the electro-dance minimalism of "Red Light" and the atmospheric, synth-based piece "Lunar Camel". The album also contained what could be described as a ballad, "Desert Kisses". Kaleidoscope marked the debut of guitarist John McGeoch and new drummer Budgie. Siouxsie saw it "like a new lease of life". The songs had been demoed at Warner Chappell studios with only a bass and a synthesizer played by Siouxsie and Steven Severin. After the 1979 tour, Siouxsie had been ordered to take one month of rest by doctors; she used this time to learn to play guitar and compose music for the first time.
Release and critical reception
The reception from critics was positive. Melody Maker's Paulo Hewitt gave the album qualified praise, summarising it as "a kaleidoscope of sound and imagery, new forms, and content, flashing before our eyes". Singling out the tracks "Paradise Place" and "Skin", Hewitt called them "classic Banshee pieces. Hypnotic, relentless and incisive". Writing for ZigZag, Kris Needs hailed it as "probably the most varied, diverse and adventurous offering yet to shimmer under the Banshees' banner", praising the band's new musical direction: "If anything, it makes its two predecessors, seem a trifle one-dimensional now. Tracks veer from the lightest electronic backdrop pulse to surging soundwalls as mesmeric and powerful as anything they've done. But the subtlety evident in 'Happy House' and marvellous 'Christine' are the pointers to the main content of 'Kaleidoscope'". Needs noted that Siouxsie's voice "gained new strength and depth, but she's also widened beyond singing and writing to include synth, piano and a spot of guitar".
The band's work on the singles "Happy House" and "Christine" was hailed shortly after their release by peers the Jam; singer-songwriter Paul Weller said that both songs used "some unusual sounds", while drummer Rick Buckler qualified them as "innovative".
In his retrospective review, David Cleary of AllMusic described Kaleidoscope as a "strong record" with "extraordinarily imaginative production values, featuring intricate synthesizer-flecked arrangements; psychedelic touches in "Christine", spaceship synthesizer swoops in "Tenant" and rhythmic camera clicks in "Red Light" all enliven their respective songs".
Kaleidoscope later influenced several critically acclaimed musicians. In a 1985 interview with Steve Sutherland, the Cure frontman Robert Smith cited the album when describing The Head on the Door: "It reminds me of the Kaleidoscope album, the idea of having lots of different sounding things, different colours". During a TV interview to promote The Head on the Door, Smith also included Kaleidoscope in a selection of his "Top 5 all-time favorite albums.
In a February 2008 interview on BBC Radio 2, Johnny Marr from the Smiths discussed McGeoch's contribution to "Happy House": "What it is about "Happy House" from a guitar playing point of view, is for a start it's modern. It's not got any of the sort of creaky old rock'n'roll aspects to it and it still sounded like the Banshees, almost more so. That's when I really began to become a fan of John McGeoch. It was an extra bonus for me that they'd got a great guitar player who had left another band and came in as a ringer and joined and not surprisingly, that to me was a very good scenario. I've always liked that. It was like getting George Best on the guitar".
Radiohead stated in 2008 interviews that they had rehearsed "Happy House" before going on tour. Guitarist Ed O'Brien added: "We've been doing all this [...] stuff, [...] which is our youth, really. You know, when we were teenagers. They were very formative years, and those bands".
Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream was inspired by both "Happy House" and "Christine" because they were pop songs with dark subject matter. He stated: "That's the idea, yeah—to use the conventional way of constructing a pop song to communicate what I feel about the world and my take on relationships. It's a twist that makes it darker than it seems. When we were growing up, Siouxsie and the Banshees were doing this kind of stuff—they were getting in the charts with songs about mental hospitals! "Happy House"? That was nearly number fucking 10 in the charts! 'Christine, the strawberry girl, Christine, banana split lady'—they were writing about a girl with schizophrenia! They were getting in pop magazines and on TV; they were getting played on daytime radio. It's fucking subversive! They were outsiders bringing outsider subjects to the mainstream".
Santigold took inspiration from the song "Red Light", explaining, "'My Superman' is an interpolation of a Siouxsie Sioux song, 'Red Light'. I love her song and I love this song". Santigold also later sampled another song from Kaleidoscope, "Lunar Camel", on her Top Ranking remix album. Jeremy Jay covered the same song on his Airwalker EP.
Kaleidoscope was also praised by the singer of Suede, Brett Anderson. Erasure's Andy Bell cited it as one of his favourites :"More commercial offering from Siouxsie was much more up my street - and consequently, as with all my favourite teen angst albums, I learnt all of the songs inside out and backwards".
All tracks by Siouxsie and Steven Severin except mentioned
- "Happy House"
- "Trophy" (Sioux, Severin, McGeoch)
- "Lunar Camel"
- "Desert Kisses"
- "Red Light"
- "Paradise Place"
2006 remastered reissue bonus tracks
- "Christine" (demo version)
- "Eve White/Eve Black" (demo version)
- "Arabia (Lunar Camel)" (demo version)
- "Sitting Room" (unreleased track)
- "Paradise Place" (demo version)
- "Desert Kisses" (demo version)
- "Hybrid" (demo version)
- "Happy House" (demo version)
- "Israel" (7" A-Side)
- Siouxsie and the Banshees
- Siouxsie Sioux – vocals, acoustic (track 2) and electric guitar (track 10), finger cymbals, camera (track 8), melodica (track 11), production
- Steven Severin – bass guitar (tracks 1-8, 10-11), electric guitar (track 2), vocals, piano (track 5), synthesizer (track 9), electric sitar (track 2), production
- Budgie – drums (tracks 1-5, 7-11), harmonica (track 1), bass guitar (track 2), percussion, production
- John McGeoch – guitar (tracks 1, 3, 4, 7, 8), saxophone (track 4), Farfisa organ (track 7), sitar (track 8), string synth (track 8), production
- Additional personnel
- Steve Jones – lead guitar on "Clockface", "Paradise Place" and "Skin"
- Nigel Gray – production
- Goddard, Simon. Mozipedia: The Encyclopaedia of Morrissey and the Smiths [Sioux, Siouxsie entry]. Ebury Press. p. 393.
- "The Banshees and other Creatures". BBC2 television. 1 hour documentary. Broadcast September 1998
- Cleary, David. "Kaleidoscope – Siouxsie and the Banshees". AllMusic. AllRovi. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
- Hewitt, Paulo (26 July 1980). "Siouxsie's Sketches". Melody Maker. Retrieved 2 September 2012. (subscription required)
- Needs, Kris (August 1980), "Siouxsie and the Banshees "Kaleidoscope" [album review]", zigZag (104)
- "Siouxsie & the Banshees [uk charts]". officialcharts.com. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
- "Desert Islands Disc: The Jam List Their Current Favourite Records". Flexipop (1). 1980. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
"Desert Islands Disc: The Jam List Their Current Favourite Records". Flexipop (1). 1980. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
- Sutherland, Steve (17 August 1985). "A Suitable Case for Treatment". Melody Maker.
- "The Cure on 4C+" Robert Smith interview. Canal plus. 11 December 1985. Retrieved 7 June 2015 on youtube. Excerpt about Siouxsie and the Banshees from 15:24
- "Spellbound: The John McGeoch Story BBC 6 MUSIC". YouTube. 14 June 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2016.
- "Radiohead Ed O'Brien interview on 94/9 radio, San Diego radio". citizeninsane.eu. 11 January 2008. Archived from the original on 18 September 2016. Retrieved 20 May 2016.
We've kind of been rehearsing Happy House - Siouxsie & the banshees.
Ryan Dombal (28 March 2008). "Radiohead interview". Pitchfork. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
In rehearsals yesterday, Thom, Ed and I were running through a Siouxsie and the Banshees cover called "Happy House".
- Seymour, Corey (24 March 2016). "Primal Scream's Bobbie Gillespie on His High-profiles Collaborations". vogue.com. Retrieved 1 November 2016.
- Hresko, Lisa (28 April 2008). "All That Glitters Is Santogold". CMJ. Archived from the original on 2 May 2008. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
- "Some Current Fascinations". brettanderson.co.uk. Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 1 November 2011.
- "Erasure's Andy Bell Selects 13 Favourite Records". quietus.com. 26 April 2011. Retrieved 5 March 2015.