Siouxsie and the Banshees
The Authorised Biography
Do you rememember bands complaining about the single/ album/tour syndrome that they
were locked into and hated, well that is exactly the way the author Mark Paytress has
chosen to write this book, diary style. And to be honest the story of the Ice Queen and
her boys dare I say for fear of retribution, which she frequently dishes out in the book to
anyone who doesn't agree or fit into the Banshee plan of things, is a bit boring in parts.
At one time I was the biggest Banshees fan going. I worshipped at the alter of Siouxsie,
she was one of the main punk icons of my generation and the band were totally different
for a while to any of the other punk bands around.
I was a massive fan, I bought the records, read the interviews and news in the music
papers, went to see them live a few times. I even got to meet her, Severin and Budgie at
the Batcave club in London during '83 and I have the photos to prove it! Those first five
albums are absolute classics The Scream, Join Hands, Kaleidoscope, JuJu and 'A kiss In
The Dreamhouse', all full of atmosphere darkness and light with a touch of fear. They
are brilliant LP's and the high quality of their collection of singles apart from a few
exceptions never dropped. I was given an American copy of this book as a present and
I was expecting a good exciting read with plenty of memories of the very early punk days
before the band and after their formation, but this era seems to be passed over much to
quickly. Even though they say they hated being thought of as being part of the Rocky Horror picture show freak
circus Sex Pistols wannabes that was the Bromely contingent, they embraced the attention and publicity. Siouxsie and
Severin revel in the fact that they think they are better and more special than the rest of the ordinary plebs, 'elite' as
they like to call it. And this supposed superiority can sometimes leave a sour taste as it's repeated a few times
through the book. They reject the term punk to set themselves apart and alienate the very audience they were trying
to attract and who supported them and made them a success in the first place. Their friend Bertie (Berlin) seems to
think he was something special just because he was in the gang, but he never did anything worth talking about since
back then that I've heard of anyway? So he should stop being such a prat and disappear. Marco Pirroni rambles on
as usual thinking he's the dogs bollocks (I don't think so!) It was good to read about Kenny Morris and John McKay
again, even though Kenny seems like a bit of an arse in some of his  interview passages. I always thought Nils
Stevenson and Robert Smith were well loved and respected members of the extended Banshee family, but it seems
that wasn't the case as I found out in the book. Siouxsie comes accross as being very moody and always believing
she's right no matter what, and she's quick to lash out. It turns out Severin is a big football fan and likes to party. I
always thought he looked miserable and aloof, just shows you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover (excuse the pun).
He's a Spurs supporter, so he doesn't really like football!!! Budgie turns out to be a really good bloke, and some tales
involving him add a bit of humour to the story. Two thirds of the book covering the 70's days to the early 80's is good
reading, but it gets slow in the later chapters. Too much info about managers and producers etc., and it's hard to
keep your interest! This is the problem, the story sort of fizzles out and treads water the more you get into it. Yes I do
know it's real life and this how it was, but that doesn't mean it'll hold your attention. The band freely admit they took
more than their fair share of drugs and drink, but the stories of the times when they were out of it are nothing when
you compare it to the tales of debauchary in the biographies of Iggy, Thunders or the Dolls. The Yanks do the whole
rock 'n' roll lifestyle thing a lot better with all the high jinx and over the top behaviour, even with the posing and
preening, but then some of the Banshees would never consider calling themselves a rock band more an art project.
I'm all for self belief, but it makes for gloomy reading. And this is one of the books downfalls, nothing is really over the
top it's just the honest tale of a band who made great music partied hard, had a run of bad luck and went through
guitarists at an alarming rate (John McGeoch was the best!) and that's the lot. It's just that not all of the story is overly
exciting in print, even though I'm sure it was good and bad to experience. Everything described here, and they are
very honest in their recollections, which is to their credit. Their greatest legacy is the sound and images they have left
over the years, and that's good enough for me! If like me you are/were a Banshees fan, you'll want to read this
regardless. Otherwise to get your kicks if you want exciting, dirty and sleazy real life rock music reading? Try Johnny
Thunders 'In Cold Blood', 'Please Kill ,Me (the uncensored oral history of American punk)', The New York Dolls 'Too
much too soon' and don't say 'fuck off and wise up...  Motley Crue 'the Dirt', you'll need a shower afterwards, as you'll
feel really grubby.
Joe Donnelly Belfast  3.10.03.
Siouxsie & The Banshees
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