So, music today was, you guessed it, Siouxsie and the Banshees‘ Hyæna (1984) which came after the double live album Noctourne (1983). It’s the album where Robert Smith joined and co-wrote all the songs. The US version featured the stand-alone single Dear Prudence by The Beatles. For me, it misses the innovation of John McGeoch or the raw sound of John McKay and relies a little too much on a reverby atmosphere. Dazzle and We Hunger don’t really allow entry into the songs, notwithstanding the 27 members of the London Symphony Orchestra who for me rather than making it bigger making it vaguer. Budgie, the innovator, can’t have been happy with the drums on this track. Is it even him? Or has the damned producer convinced him that ‘the now’ is a dull drum machine like Waddy Wachtel did with the ex-band on Gold Afternoon Fix? Japan might have influenced Take Me Back or was it Brian Auger? It’s an album where I don’t particularly notice the guitars, more keyboards and that dreaded verb that’s on everything, the bass, the drums, the guitar, the vocals. What happened on Bella Donna? Lacklustre drums again, for all those fantastic beats that Budgie so often came up with, he dropped the stick on this one or wasn’t allowed to pick the sticks up. Muddy bass, half a song. You can hear by how it ends that there’s too much effect on the guitars, losing presence in a wash of soap for no reason – overeffect it and then bury it, genius. Robert Smith was gone after one album.
The first single, Swimming Horses, just isn’t up there with the last eleven singles (it sounds like a Jim Kerr/Simple Minds album track, saved by Budgie) and why are they recording the vocals in a bathroom? Is it something to do with Geffen Records? The American market? This is their first new album released on a major US label and it’s the least engaging. It’s as if the A&R department thought this was the sound of now and wanted a producer who sounded like now and that’s the problem, Mike Hedges and the bowing to the alleged underground zeitgeist. It happened to us in the ex-band, the doomed sound of now, in our case it was Nick Launay and the mix of Seance (1983). This was the era when the engineer/producer became more important than the band and their sound was what the record companies thought was the way to go, Steve Lillywhite and horrible drums, most eighties bands with a so-called ‘expensive name producer’ suffered from awful drums. How could the band possibly know better? Technology changed the way bands really sounded and if you had little experience it was difficult to fight against technology – and the Thompson Twins (the clothes, too).
The last part of the album leaves me cold (except Blow The House Down), what happened with Pointing The Bone that sounds like it was mastered quieter? (Or has Spotify or the label messed it up?) This would have been a much better album in the hands of Nigel Gray who produced The Banshees’ Juju and Kaleidoscope. A Kiss In The Dreamhouse was Hedges’ entry into the project as he engineered it but wasn’t able to push too hard for the sound yet until he got his hands on Hyæna. The first disappointing Siouxsie and the Banshees album where the songs are weaker than the previous albums and the production makes it worse.
Music Of The Daze
The musical musings in this post are an excerpt from my daily blog, TO WHERE I AM NOW, featured on my main website. See more pictures and read the full post here.