Through the Looking Glass (Siouxsie and the Banshees album)

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Through the Looking Glass
Siouxsie & the Banshees-Through the Looking Glass.jpg
Studio album by
Released2 March 1987
RecordedAugust–September 1986
StudioAbbey Road, London
Genre
Length43:54
Label
Producer
Siouxsie and the Banshees chronology
Tinderbox
(1986)
Through the Looking Glass
(1987)
Peepshow
(1988)
Singles from Through the Looking Glass
  1. "This Wheel's on Fire"
    Released: 5 January 1987
  2. "The Passenger"
    Released: 16 March 1987

Through the Looking Glass is the eighth studio album by English rock band Siouxsie and the Banshees. The album is a collection of cover versions. It was co-produced with Mike Hedges and released in March 1987 on Polydor. Through the Looking Glass was preceded by the single "This Wheel's on Fire". It was the second and final album recorded with guitarist John Valentine Carruthers. Some of their cover songs were praised by the original artists themselves.

History[edit]

The title of the record, Through the Looking Glass, referred to Lewis Carroll's book of the same name. The band had already been inspired by Carroll's work when naming their label, Wonderland, which was derived from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.[1] The record was also an ode to David Bowie's Pin Ups, a covers album recorded in the early 1970s. After spending more than a year working on 1986's Tinderbox, the Banshees wanted spontaneity, and quickly returned to the studio after the tour, to record their own covers album. It was a project they had been considering since recording a version of the Beatles's "Dear Prudence" in 1983.

For the Through the Looking Glass sessions, which took place in September and October 1986, they chose material mainly dating from the first half of the 1970s, from an era preceding the 1976 formation of their band. Most of the songs were from artists who had influenced them: Roxy Music, John Cale, Iggy Pop, the Doors and Kraftwerk. Producer Mike Hedges, who hadn't worked with them since 1984, was called back. The instrumentation was different; for this album, they hired other instrumentalists including a brass section and a harpist. Musician Martin McCarrick, who would become an official member of the Banshees after this album, created string arrangements for several tracks.

The band's version of Iggy Pop song "The Passenger" featured brass arrangements played by Pete Thoms and Luke Tunney, who had already worked with Siouxsie and Budgie on the Creatures' single "Right Now".

Release[edit]

Through the Looking Glass was released on 2 March 1987 on Polydor. A few weeks after, Bowie contacted them to be the special guests at two shows on his Glass Spider Tour in Anaheim.[2]

The album was reissued on CD with bonus tracks in October 2014.[3]

A 180g vinyl reissue of the album, remastered from the original ¼” tapes and cut half-speed at Abbey Road Studios by Miles Showell, was released in August 2018.[4]

Reception and legacy[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic[5]
LA Timesvery favourable[6]

Ralf Hütter of Kraftwerk lauded the version of "Hall of Mirrors" and stated: "In general, we consider cover versions as an appreciation of our work. The version of 'Hall of Mirrors' by Siouxsie and the Banshees is extraordinary".[7] Iggy Pop said of their cover of "The Passenger": "That's good. She sings it well and she threw a little note in when she sings it, that I wish I had thought of. It kind of improves it [...]. The horn thing is good".[8]

In their contemporary review, LA Times stated: "These songs are superbly rearranged, retaining enough of what was special about the originals and adding just the right new twists." Critic Terry Atkinson wrote about their cover of "Strange Fruit": "Only someone as brash as Siouxsie Sioux would re-record Lewis Allan's "Strange Fruit," a song so strongly identified with Billie Holiday. And only someone as serious and sensitive could bring it off like this. A solemn string section behind the vocals and—best of all—a bridge of New Orleans funeral-march jazz enhance Siouxsie's evocative interpretation". Atkinson then concluded emphasising, "Such inventive touches permeate a great album".[6] Sounds praised the rendition of "Trust in Me" as "quite astonishing. Whereas once it was about a python getting ready to crush a little boy to death, now it's a harp-laden lullaby of rampant, swirling eroticism".[9]

In a retrospective review, AllMusic said: "The inspired range of covers reaches from glam-era landmarks (Roxy Music's 'Sea Breezes', John Cale's 'Gun') to Billie Holiday's sorrowful touchstone 'Strange Fruit' to, in one of the best such efforts ever (and a year before Hal Willner's Stay Awake project), a Disney classic—namely the slinky 'Trust in Me', originally from The Jungle Book and given a spare, mostly-Budgie backing that could almost be a sparkling Creatures outtake".[5] Mojo included their version of "Strange Fruit" on the 2007 CD Music Is Love: 15 Tracks That Changed the World Recovered By....[10] Writing in the 2004 edition of The Rolling Stone Album Guide, Mark Coleman and Mac Randall gave Through the Looking Glass a rating of 2.5 stars out of five, saying that it contains "overpolished covers of the group's obvious influences".[11] In an article about "Records Turning 30 Years Old in 2017", Paste included it in their top fifteen saying that it was, "an eclectic and adventurous album of Siouxsie-fied takes on a diverse collection of songs", with "interesting and engaging choices". Journalist Will Hodge concluded: "this album is a prime example of the value of artistic merit not being accurately measured by mainstream successes".[12]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No.TitleWriter(s)Original artistLength
1."This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us"Ron MaelSparks3:09
2."Hall of Mirrors"Ralf Hütter, Florian Schneider, Emil SchultKraftwerk5:03
3."Trust in Me"Sherman BrothersKaa (voice by Sterling Holloway) in The Jungle Book4:06
4."This Wheel's on Fire"Rick Danko, Bob DylanBob Dylan & The Band5:17
5."Strange Fruit"Lewis AllanBillie Holiday3:53
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)Original artistLength
6."You're Lost Little Girl"John Densmore, Robbie Krieger, Ray Manzarek, Jim MorrisonThe Doors2:57
7."The Passenger"Iggy Pop, Ricky GardinerIggy Pop5:10
8."Gun"John CaleJohn Cale5:06
9."Sea Breezes"Bryan FerryRoxy Music4:15
10."Little Johnny Jewel"Tom VerlaineTelevision4:56
2014 CD remastered reissue bonus tracks
No.TitleWriter(s)Original artistLength
11."She Cracked"Jonathan RichmanThe Modern Lovers3:07
12."Song from the Edge of the World (Single Version)"Siouxsie and the Banshees 3:45
13."This Wheel's on Fire (Incendiary Mix)"  7:27
14."The Passenger (Locomotion Mix)"  8:05

Personnel[edit]

Additional personnel
  • Martin McCarrick - cello, keyboards, string arrangements
  • Jocelyn Pook - viola
  • Gini Ball - violin
  • Pete Thoms - trombone
  • Luke Tunney - trumpet
  • Martin Dobson - saxophone
  • Julie Aliss - harp
  • Mike Hedges - producer, engineer

Charts[edit]

Chart performance for Through the Looking Glass
Chart (1987) Peak
position
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[13] 62
European Albums (Music & Media)[14] 28
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[15] 59
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[16] 46
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[17] 23
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[18] 29
UK Albums (OCC)[19] 15
US Billboard 200[20] 188

Certifications[edit]

Certifications for Through the Looking Glass
Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[21] Silver 60,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Siouxsie (25 December 2015), "Alice is Still in Wonderland [Siouxsie Sioux celebrates Alice's Adventures in Wonderland on the 150th anniversary]", BBC, retrieved 19 June 2016
  2. ^ Paytress, Mark (2003). Siouxsie & the Banshees: The Authorised Biography. Sanctuary. p. 170. ISBN 1-86074-375-7.
  3. ^ "Siouxsie and the Banshees relaunch archival campaign, new reissues due out in October". Consequenceofsound. 22 August 2014. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  4. ^ "Through the Looking Glass [German 2018 release] black vinyl Siouxsie and the Banshees - Europe". Cede.com. Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  5. ^ a b Ned Raggett. "Through the Looking Glass - Siouxsie and the Banshees". AllMusic. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  6. ^ a b Atkinson, Terry (15 March 1987). "Siouxsie Looks Back". L.A. Times. Archived from the original on 11 July 2019. Retrieved 15 June 2018.
  7. ^ Ruffilli, Bruno (22 August 2003), "Intervista: I Kraftwerk, redeirelettronica: "Partiamo per il Tour de France"", La Stampa, no. numero 229, p. 29, retrieved 10 April 2015, In genere lo consideriamo un apprezzamento per il nostro lavoro. La versione di Siouxsie di "Hall Of Mirrors" è straordinaria, come gli arrangiamenti di Alexander Balanescu per quartetto d'archi. Anche il disco di Señor Coconut ci è piaciuto molto.
  8. ^ "120 Minutes" Iggy Pop interview. MTV. June 1990. Excerpt about Siouxsie and the Banshees from 08:33
  9. ^ Mr Spencer - (28 February 1987), "Cover Up", Sounds
  10. ^ "Mojo site cover June 2007 issue 163 CD". Mojo. Archived from the original on 16 June 2013. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
    Mojo June 2007 issue 163 CD Music Is Love : 15 Tracks That Changed The World Recovered By... track listing includes "Strange Fruit" covered by Siouxsie and the Banshees
  11. ^ Coleman, Mark; Randall, Mac (2004). "Siouxsie and the Banshees". In Brackett, Nathan; with Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 740–41. ISBN 978-0-7432-0169-8.
  12. ^ Hodge, Will (26 January 2017). "30 Iconic Records Turning 30 Years Old in 2017". Pastemagazine.com. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  13. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Siouxsie & the Banshees – Through the Looking Glass" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  14. ^ "European Hot 100 Albums" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 4, no. 14. 11 April 1987. p. 27. OCLC 29800226 – via World Radio History.
  15. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Siouxsie & the Banshees – Through the Looking Glass" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 16 October 2021.
  16. ^ "Charts.nz – Siouxsie & the Banshees – Through the Looking Glass". Hung Medien. Retrieved 16 October 2021.
  17. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Siouxsie & the Banshees – Through the Looking Glass". Hung Medien. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  18. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Siouxsie & the Banshees – Through the Looking Glass". Hung Medien. Retrieved 16 October 2021.
  19. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 16 October 2021.
  20. ^ "Siouxsie & the Banshees Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Archived from the original on 17 February 2020. Retrieved 16 October 2021.
  21. ^ "British album certifications – Siouxsie & the Banshees – Through the Looking Glass". British Phonographic Industry. 3 April 1987. Retrieved 16 October 2021.