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One of the Banshees least enduring albums still earns 4 stars - The remaster earns 2 stars
on 3 November 2014
This "remastered" reissue of the 1988 album Peepshow by Siouxsie and the Banshees definitely has some faults. There is a surprising mastering glitch that was not detected until a fan posted it on Facebook. A corrected CD is being pressed and is said to be available by mid/late November 2014. Any stock purchased prior to that date, and likely a bit after that, will have the mastering fault. And now you, the lucky buyer, has to contact the place you purchased it from, explain the situation and hope the replacement they send you will in fact be the repaired copy. Or you can do what a number of Banshees cyberdrones have stated on the Facebook page: "Just keep the defective CD as a collector's item and buy another copy to support the band!" Sure, everyone should send a message that not only are blatant mastering faults acceptable, but that the record label will actually profit. More attention should have definitely been paid prior to the CD master being approved. The problem is as follows: Track 8 'Rawhead and Bloodybones' ends as it should, but then the next song 'The Last Beat of My Heart' starts for a few seconds, then stops. This is followed by nearly 10 seconds of dead air before the CD actually changes to track 9. But wait, it gets better. About a second into track 9 you hear the "engineer" switch on the tape machine (indicated by the slow to fast whir) playing the last 7 seconds of track 8 again before 'The Last Beat of My Heart' actually starts. This is not a "minor" glitch (as Severin has stated in the official announcement regarding the issue), but an error of about 20 seconds in length stretched across 2 different songs that should have been spotted a mile away. It seems that perhaps no one actually listened to the actual CD remaster before Universal sent it to be pressed. Steven Severin advertises that he oversees all of the Banshees products from start to finish, so he definitely should have caught this prior to production.
As for other problems with the CD mastering, they have all been remastered by Kevin Metcalfe, as with the last batch 5 years ago, so they all have what I feel are similar shortcomings. All have had the volume brickwalled to some degree, squashing out a good portion of the original dynamic range. The majority of the tracks across all CD's have somewhat of a muddy sound to them due to lower fidelity than the original CD's, while the middle section has been beefed up a bit. Regarding the skimpy bonus tracks, Severin states that Siouxsie preferred to have the 12" mix of 'The Killing Jar' rather than 'Peek-A-Boo', and they both wanted to include the live version of 'The Last Beat of My Heart', even though both tracks are readily available. When one fan asked about why these were included in favor of unavailable mixes, Severin stated those releases will be out of print someday and this ensures those versions stay in print. That doesn't really answer the question. Not to mention that this CD clocks in at 62 minutes so that leaves at least 18 minutes of unused space. Severin alludes to a possible future release that may include some of the currently unavailable mixes, though with this obviously costly repress of Peepshow, I wouldn't doubt that could possibly put future releases in jeopardy.
Peepshow is a good album but has the unfortunate problem of being the Banshees' most dated sounding album. It screams late 1980's production, whether it's the way the drums were mixed or some of the sorely dated keyboard sounds, namely the quivery electric piano in the song 'Scarecrow' or the pre-programmed percussive sounds in 'Ornaments of Gold'. Peepshow was the first Banshees album released after I first got into the band in 1987 and I purchased it on the day of release in 1988. I already had the 'Peek-A-Boo' 12" single because I really liked the band, though I just didn't like this song at all. Try as I might, I just thought it was a terrible hodgepodge which had no sort of hook to it. All these years later, it's one of the band's few songs that makes me cringe. 'The Killing Jar' was released as the second single and was much better, though still fairly mediocre. The song received no promotion in the U.S. and Geffen did not provide the music video to MTV for promotion. I just saw the 12" single new in the shops one day and bought it. The single remix of the song was a vast improvement, and the 12" mix is nice as well. The album version is more subtle. 'Scarecrow' was my favorite song at the time and I still like it, though perhaps not as much. I thought it had a great hook at the chorus. But the song that has been a long time standout is the eerie 'Carousel', with its keyboard and vocal based structure before Budgie comes in to give it a strong finale. 'Burn Up' is nothing you would have ever expected from the Banshees. It's a Country song with a hoe-down stomp and harmonica. I really liked it at the time but it's not aged so well.
Peepshow didn't seem to have much in the way of potential singles on it, though one that comes close is the pleasantly adequate 'Ornaments of Gold'. 'Turn to Stone' is a song that I never liked and I still can't tolerate it. 'Rawhead and Bloodybones' is like a very brief twisted fairy tale built around some bizarre circus-like keyboard sounds. 'The Last Beat of My Heart' is a very pleasant ballad with little more than a very sweet vocal performance and some delicate drumming and keyboards steadily intensifying until the song ends. It's a very nice song but I can understand why if failed as a single. The album highlight is by far the epic 'Rhapsody'. It starts very soft and subtle and builds to an explosive climax. Siouxsie hits some startling operatic highs in this, the album's masterpiece.
So while Peepshow is still a good album with some essential tracks, it has not stood the test to time all that well and is in my personal bottom tier of Banshees albums. The band does not return until 1991 with their album Superstition; an album that a lot of fans think has dated poorly, though I don't think quite as much as Peepshow.