These reissues aim to challenge the idea of a drop-off in creativity as their commercial fortunes waned.
Through The Looking Glass (6⁄10) was the 1987 covers album that confirmed these so-called punk iconoclasts’ debt to the past. The attempt to Banshee-fy Kraftwerk on Hall Of Mirrors didn’t quite work but the renditions of Sparks’s This Town Ain’t Big Enough and Iggy Pop’s The Passenger demonstrated an ability to think outside the box.
Peepshow (8⁄10) from 1988 contains Peek-A-Boo, a dark carnival of askew rhythms and pop disturbance, while producer Mike Hedges ensures things stay exotic and intoxicating. Ornaments Of Gold talks of ‘gilded treasures’ – there is a voluptuousness of sound and language. The Last Beat Of My Heart is a late classic. The additional material is inessential, but mainly there is audacity and invention at every turn.
Superstition (4⁄10, 1991) was produced by Stephen Hague, and you can tell. It’s not a million miles from PSBs’ shiny computer pop, and the album that sounds less like the Banshees than anything they ever did. Kiss Them For Me was their first US hit, and Talvin Singh adds tablas, but the Madchester beats find them resorting to contemporary tropes.
The Rapture (6⁄10) was a better way to bow out. The songs (now including New Skin, unused from the Showgirls soundtrack, and demo FGM) were largely self-produced in 1993, the remainder completed by John Cale in mid-1994. O Baby was a tepid opening gambit, but by Not Forgotten the band were displaying the swirling majesty of yore. Remember them this way./o:p