MTV ('95)

Siouxsie and the Banshees

The Rapture (Geffen)

Way back in the '70s, when Green Day were sporting diapers instead of bondage pants, and Rancid were more interested in eating paste and chewing crayons than making music, Siouxsie Sioux and her Banshees were helping give birth to punk rock. Unlike a lot of their contemporaries, (the Sex Pistols and the Clash, to name the most obvious) the Banshees didn't break up, die, or kil their girlfriends, nor have they embarrassed themselves by trying to cash in on any of the above. Instead, they've remained a vital musical force, as their latest record, "THE RAPTURE," will evidence.

"THE RAPTURE" isn't a nostalgia fest from a bunch of has-been-losers. Instead, it sounds fresh and new without sacrificing the integrity of the band's original roots. While the Banshees were part of the punk movement, they weren't really as young, loud or snotty as a lot bands. Their sound always had a lot more in common with the cure than Stiff Little Fingers--in fact, Robert Smith was a guest Banshee for a while. And just like the Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees have survived and prospered.

"RAPTURE"'s first single, "O Baby," is a lovey-dovey departure for a band not always known for their cheery outlook on things. Siouxsie giddily sings: "Even the creases in my shoes smile up at me." Guess it's appropriate that "THE RAPTURE"'s release date is Valentine's Day. "O Baby" and four other tracks are produced by ex-Velvet Undergrounder John Cale. Coincidentally or not, they are the CDs five strongest songs.

"Forever," one of the Cale productions, is another exceptional tune, this time about a lost love--"Forever's never forever." (There's the gloomy, goth we all know and love!) Ditto "Not Forgotten," which features Siouxsie-spouse Budgie's drum prowess, and some powerful guitar from Jon Klein, the latest in a long line of string strummers. Thick with atmosphere, "Sick Child" blends Siouxsie's voice with bells and Martin McCarrick's cello for a song that's haunting and compelling.

Original punk goddess Siouxsie Sioux has one of the most sumptuous voices in pop music. The Banshees sound has influenced many--you can hear it in the songs of the Cranberries and scads of others. "THE RAPTURE" is going to make old fans very happy, and at the same time, garner the band lots of new admirers.

Judy McGuire

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