Siouxsie Sioux and Steven Severin formed Siouxsie & The Banshees in England during 1976. While initially influenced by the English punk movement, they quickly moved beyond that sound by adding experimental chord progressions and off-beat melodies to their music. For two decades, 1976-1996, they explored the outer edges of rock and roll through what can be called their post punk approach.
Universal Music has just reissued their last four studio albums, of which Through The Looking Glass is the first. Issued in 1987, it is a unique album in their catalogue as all the songs are covers rather than originals. The other members of the band are drummer Budgie and keyboardist John Carruthers.
It is an eclectic group of material as the songs range from Billie Holiday, to Bob Dylan, to Iggy Pop, with a stop in Walt Disney’s Jungle Book. They depart a little more from the norm with the addition of some brass and strings.
The Iggy Pop composition “The Passenger” is twisted a bit out of shape with the addition of some brass. The lyrics retain their power but the music has a very different feel from the original. The Bob Dylan/Rick Danko composition “This Wheel’s On Fire” and Billie Holiday’s ”Strange Fruit” both keep the emphasis on Siouxsie’s voice. Her annunciation and the change in tempos completely re-make the two songs.
The Sherman Brothers wrote “Trust In Me” for a Disney film but probably couldn’t have imagined what Siouxsie and her band would do with the song. There is a subtle but ominous vibe to it that is mesmerizing.
The reissue comes with four bonus tracks. “This Wheel’s On Fire” and “The Passenger” are different mixes and while nice to have are not essential. On the other hand the 7 inch version of “Song From The Edge of The World” and the 7 inch B side “She Cracked” are fine additions to the album.
Through The Looking Glass is probably not the place to start if you have not been exposed to the music of Siouxsie and The Banshees as it is best appreciated after listening to their original material. It effectiveness is in the road less traveled for the band.