Dazzle//Siouxsie and the Banshees

One of my favorite pairs of lines of lyrics or poetry ever is:

Skating bullets on angel dust/In a dead sea of fluid mercury.

I’ll readily admit that it’s probably not the best poetry ever, but those two lines have resonated with me from the very moment I heard them around 1985. I hadn’t quite gotten around to collecting Siouxsie and the Banshee albums yet when the album was released in 1984, although I was very familiar with the name of the band by then and had heard their rendition of Helter Skelter [“You may be a lover/but you ain’t no fucking dancer”], Love in a Void and almost certainly Christine [“The Strawberry Girl”]. I was on my mission to collect Cure-related music at the time and Robert Smith was the guitarist and keyboardist for Siouxsie as the Cure had gone on hiatus after the Pornography dissolution.

At the time, I don’t think I appreciated Hyæna as much as I might have. Rumor had it that Siouxsie wouldn’t let Robert sing at all on the album “because he was an awful singer”, and that rumor turned me off a little (mostly because I’m a worse singer and at the time thought us awful vocalists should be given a chance). I think it was a good decision, now that I’m older. I loved Dazzle, Bring Me the Head (Of the Preacher Man), Dear Prudence, and a few other tracks, but it took a while for the album as a whole to grow on me — mostly because I was looking for something different at the time. But I had an instant and terrible crush on Siouxsie based on the liner photo I found as I opened the album for the first time:

The liner sleeve in my copy of the vinyl album had gotten sliced open after the first few times sliding the record in and out (as they were prone to doing at the time). I had a few spare sleeves to keep the album itself in and I posted the sleeve side with the above picture on my teenage bedroom wall as a poster, supplanting a poster I had of… well… I don’t know that I want to admit which famous woman had previously held my amorous attentions (unless — it might have been Pat Benetar, so that’s okay; the other… well, potentially embarrassing although I’d admitted her in the past).

That picture of Siouxsie is still perhaps my favorite. And, no, I’ve never gotten over my crush on her, even 35 years later. I happen to not only like her looks (now and in the past), but part of the attraction is that she is one tough chick when you find out all the bullshit she had to put up with over the years, and that’s damn attractive to me as well. She didn’t let anyone try to railroad her into anything. She was tough as nails and unapologetic about it. That earns major respect from me.

Anyway, no one cares about who a 50 yo guy has a crush on, so here is the surrounding lyrics and a link to the video for the song.

A silver tongue for the chosen one
Heavy magnum in your side
or a bloody thorn

Skating bullets on angel dust
In a dead sea of fluid mercury

Brother Wolf; Sister Moon//The Cult

Embrace the wind with both arms
Stop the clouds dead in the sky
Hang your head no more
And beg no more
Brother wolf and sister moon
Your time has come

I’m in a Cult mood this week, although more in the mood for the early side of their music. Wild Hearted Son was the exception, but I’ve been feeling the urge to stream me some Love, Dreamtime and Electric.

While I like rocking out to the later music, the earlier tunes resonate with me more — quite possibly because of the Native American references in the lyrics, but the music seems a little less produced and I’m always a sucker for a lesser produced feel in my musical tastes instead of over-production (see: Replacements, Hüsker Dü, Cure circa Seventeen Seconds and Faith, Joy Division, early J&MC, early E&tB, etc.). I can appreciate higher production techniques, my ear just seems to like the empty spaces and raw feeling of music with less production.

If anything, I think digital music production has killed some of the raw sounds we used to hear from bands — which may seem odd, considering that I exclusively write music digitally these days, but that is because I am a solo “band” and I’ve always been better at constructing music than physically playing it (especially with my rheumatoid arthritis, which makes playing an exercise in torture some days).

Anyway — enjoy.

Bananafishbones//The Cure

Inspired by the Salinger short story, “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” — which happens to be probably my favorite Salinger story (if I were to write my “perfect short story” it would probably be something close to that particular tale in terms of impact rather than subject matter), although both “Franny and Zooey” are right up there, too — Bananafishbones is off of an album that many Cure fans tend to ignore for whatever reason. The Top is more like a solo Robert Smith album than a Cure album. Although Lol, Porl/Pearl and others had a role in the promotion and recording of it, it is my understanding that their songwriting role was very limited or nonexistent. And, honestly, after the implosion the Pornography caused the band to undergo, who can blame Bob for having more of a go-at-it-alone attitude?

The Top is a great compliment to Pornography and Faith, and hints at what was to come with Head on the Door. It’s too bad that the album is overlooked by so many, because it has some gut-wrenching songs in it that informed my life nearly as much as those other two acclaimed albums. The Empty World is a bit of a sequel to Charlotte Sometimes, and I think that Birdmad Girl, is another cut of that same cloth. Shake Dog Shake is some residual psychic energy from the previous albums, as well as Give Me It and Piggy in the Mirror. Everyone who has heard it seems to love The Caterpillar, and I used to, but it has gotten a little too saccharine for me as I’ve aged. Still, if you watch the video for the only single from the album, it is Robert probably looking his best and least demented, with the exception perhaps of when he played with Siouxsie (although there is a bit of the drug euphoria look going on).

The song itself is more about self-loathing than it is about the story it references, although it was the song that first turned me onto Salinger beyond Catcher (in my opinion, his weakest story). If I hadn’t heard this song was connected to the short story, I might not have gone beyond Catcher in the Rye in my reading or been very impressed with Salinger as a whole. It is not one of the easiest Cure tunes to listen to for non-fans, in part because of the subject matter, and in part that is sounds pretty much like a lunatic wrote it. But that was some of the charm for me.

Don’t fight
Go red and blue and black and white
Sell this sell this
Or leave it senseless like a suck on a gun?
Put a piece of metal in your head you said
Make you dead
Make you hippa hippa hippa hippa

Wild Hearted Son//The Cult

It seems like people either like some bands before they were anyone (so you could say you were there) or you like how the band evolved. I tend to like bands based on their actual music rather than a timeline, although there are plenty out there that seem spent after the first few albums or after they achieve widespread attention. For instance, I liked old Mission UK far more than what they are now, but I think much of that has to do with the lineup being primarily Wayne Hussey and not the lineup that clicked for me. Wayne is a great guy, with an awesome sense of humor (at least when I got to hang with him), but I think the Mission was more a sum of parts than all about Wayne and they seemed to be missing something essential after Simon Hinkler left (or was drummed out, take your pick).

Anyway, The Cult is one of this bands that trends towards the divisive before/after with a lot of original fans giving up on them either on the third album, Electric, or after the fourth, Sonic Temple. Me, I even like the “Black Sheep” album, though I readily admit that it sounds least like The Cult. I think they lost something after Ian started to (maybe?) get a grip on his alcoholism (one show I went to was a travesty — he slurred made-up lyrics and stumbled around on stage, obviously drunk and unable to keep his shit together). Not that I would want anyone with a problem to go back to drinking, self included. But I still like the latter music as well as their original sound. I can’t say the same about my favorite band of youth, The Cure — I can largely avoid listening to anything after Disintegration and not feel like I missed anything in doing so.

Anyway — the point here is that Ceremony was one of those divisive albums for the band (it seems like everything after Love was); it wasn’t quite as rocker as Sonic Temple and it harkened back to some of Ian’s Native American obsession on a number of songs — and yet it was too rocking for the people who wanted the old semi-goth Cult. It’s perhaps one of my favorite albums, if only for the first two songs. But I can’t think of a really bad one on the album. Wild Hearted Son is one of the Native American songs as evidenced in the hints the lyrics below give, although nothing so overt as those found on the first album.

I was born to the city
But I longed to roam free
Got a screaming horse in my belly
Scar on my heart

I live outside of convention
You know the people who stare
I’m just a breed of society
I’m pushin’ hard and I’m stealin’ free
Don’t try to lay no trip on me

Final Solution//Peter Murphy

This is a Pere Ubu song done by Peter Murphy, solo and former singer for Bauhaus at the time of release. I like the original version by Pere Ubu, but I always felt that Murphy made the song better with his interpretation. Plus, Peter has some awesome boots in the video that I was never able to find in my size. Or, at least, in a price range I was willing pay.

Boots are everything, you know.

Okay — I was a clothes-whore back in the day… What can I say?

The girls won’t touch me
’cause I’ve got a misdirection
Living at night isn’t helping my complexion
The signs all saying it’s a social infection
A little bit of fun’s never been an insurrection

Well

Mamma threw me out till I get some pants that fit
She just won’t approve of my strange kind of wit
I get so excited, always gotta lose
Man that sends me off
Let them take the cure

Don’t need a cure
Need a final solution

Dirty Business//The Dresden Dolls

Amanda Palmer, last I heard, was still Neil Gaiman’s wife, but I haven’t followed that as closely as I would have about 10 years ago. Before she married him, she was in a neo-cabaret duo known as The Dresden Dolls. Except that cabaret doesn’t quite describe them — they are hard to categorize. And, Amanda is apt to make a sailor blush with some of her lyrics and language — she holds nothing back in terms of words or subject matter (this is your trigger warning if you don’t like uncensored, unflowery lyrics full of real life and f-offs to probably skip listening to anything by the Dresden Dolls, not just the linked tune for the day).

I was going to post First Orgasm from the same album, which is an amusing and sad song at the same time, but decided that it really didn’t show off the duo’s talents as songwriters. That song can be particularly difficult for first-timers to see that the dissonance in singing and chord choices is intentional and not a product of being lazy or bad musicians.

Instead, you get more of one of their “F-off with your opinions” songs. Backstabber is more fun in ways (a “to the hell with you, you jerk” song), and a little more accessible — but I didn’t want to gloss their rough feel so much as needed by offering up that.

She’s the kind of girl who gets her slings and arrows from the dumpster.
The kind who tells you she’s bipolar just to make you trust her.
She’s the kind of girl who leaves out condoms on the bedroom dresser,
Just to make you jealous of the men she fucked before you met her.

Mayor of Simpleton//XTC

I can’t have been there when brains were handed round
Or get past the cover of your books profound
And some of your friends
Think it’s really unsound that you’re even seen talking to me

Well, I don’t know how to write a big hit song
And all crossword puzzles, well I just shun
And I may be the mayor of Simpleton
But I know one thing and that’s I love you

I could have just as easily posted “Senses Working Overtime” from 1982. XTC is one of those bands that probably never got as much recognition as they should have. Some profound lyrics between them and I love their pseudo-psychedelia sound. Like Beatles on… heavier drugs?