Thursday, September 15, 2022

Glamour Mix

Siouxsie and the Banshees have at least two Glamanifesto Songs -  two singles released within two years of each other. 

"Fireworks", a national anthem for the emerging and then as yet unnamed tribe soon to be known as Goth

"Dazzle", which I only just realised (courtesy Simon Price) came with a Glamour Mix on the 12-inch. 

Here's the single version and its incandescent video. 

Fountains = a symbol of aristocratic extravagance from time immemorial -  command of the vital elements, and squandering thereof, at a time when the lower orders had to lug it by the bucket out of the ground from wells or carry jugs full of it on their heads for miles and miles.

"Fireworks" is much the better song I think - the orchestration and stampede-y beat on "Dazzle" make it a bit overbearing and stiffly strident. 

And he crackling in our colours

With teeth of gelignite

When he sighs his song and pirouettes

Thro' a dance of dynamite

We are fireworks - slowly, glowing

Bold and bright

We are fireworks - burning shapes

Into the night

Twist and turn - burn, burn, burn

Twist and turn - burn, baby, burn

Tempting to roll out the Bataillean reading here... 

"Painted Bird" is also something of a Goth Nation rally call and war song. 

Confound that dowdy flock 

With a sharp-honed nerve 

Because we're painted birds 

By our own design

There's other Siouxsie songs in these regions of self-worship / demand-to-be-worshipped and exhibitionism / voyeurism - or that speak of a morbid excitation of the eye.

"Red Light" and "Peek-A-Boo", as discussed earlier on this blog. 

"Regal Zone" - I had always fondly imagined this as another song in this zone of Star Solipsism / Siouxsie as Untouchable Idol enthralling  her fan-vassals... But it appears to be a political comment - if I remember right, something to do with the Iranian Revolution, the fall of the Shah, the Ayatollahs...  File alongside The Stranglers's "Shah Shah A Go Go" then... 

Coronets rest on a death's head mask

No-one is safe while the curfew lasts

But crusted orbs glitter, sceptres gleam

While helmets of blood fill the screen

They look away

And then they say:

"For the good of the land

For the love of the man"

Standing alone sitting alone

On the throne of the regal zone

Old limbs hang in the torture room

While old kings hang in the portrait room

Their noble eyes gaze on the uneasy dance

Of the squirming body on the marble plate

They look away

And then they say:

"For the good of the land

For the love of the man"

Standing alone sitting alone

On the throne of the regal zone

"Icon", likewise, is no self-deification exercise but something to do with organized religion, about  a Polish priest who burned himself alive if my memory serves.. sitting alongside "The Lord's Prayer" on Join Hands.  


Still, imposing regality drips off of all these songs and vocal performances, so it is temping to take isolated lines like "standing alone... on the throne of the regal zone" or "icon in the fire" and see them as imperious proclamations of Siouxsie's self-regard. Especially as she once described herself as a fascist, in the sense of wanting things absolutely her own way. 

Likewise, who the fuck really knows what "Dazzle" is about - all you really come away with is the lines 

Dazzle it's a glittering prize

Before your eyes

 - and the self-goddessing hauteur of Siouxsie's voice.


  1. I saw a girl in her early twenties at St. Pancras station on Tuesday with a Banshees t-shirt, and she had made a reasonably successful attempt at looking like Siouxsie. So this stuff still works.

    About five minutes earlier I saw another young girl with a Duran Duran t-shirt.

  2. Yes it's perennial as a form of stand-offish glamour / look but don't touch / Mystery-as-Mastery. The Ice Queen.

  3. Equally though it's not necessarily always successful at keeping admirers at a distance. I've been out with two Siouxsie-influenced girls and one of them I married.

  4. mildly surprised to see the dismissal of 'Dazzle' here, which I had never heard until recently and was very struck by: one of the *extremely few* attempts to completely explicitly copy the Associates circa 'Sulk' - the density of the arrangement, the clattering bombastic momentum, the feeling that all this grandiloquence might collapse under its own weight, the edge of mania - though without the voice, alas. He should have covered it.

  5. hello Owen, nice to hear from you. I was actually planning to write you an email about an article you wrote last year.

    "Dazzle" is around the point when for me it l gets a bit overwrought and bombastic with the Banshees. It's.... fine.

    This connection between the Associates and Banshees is something I felt at the time - not so much with that specific song, though. But this vibe of psychedelia being crammed into 80s pop - the overload and disorientation, without necessarily any direct 60s echoes (well, okay, the Banshees would do "Dear Prudence" and there's a flute that's a bit Donovan-y in one of Dreamhouse songs). At the time I wasn't the kind of person who obsessively checked out who the producer of records was, but it's notable that Mike Hedges went pretty much straight from doing Sulk to engineering A Kiss in the Dreamhouse, and one of his other clients at that time was The Cure.

  6. Yes - strangely Hedges wasn't able to capture the same magic when producing the Manic Street Preachers. And email away!


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