I guess that hardcore SATB fans probably don't rate this album in the context of their extensive and highly regarded back catalogue of original material. However, I always judged this album in complete isolation from the rest of their long career looking upon it as a self-contained side project in its own right. I have not played my vinyl copy in 10 years (at least) since the turntable finally went into the loft never to be seen again. Back then it was a total 5 star album for me. It still is, right now, as I write this comment on first hearing it again in a decade or more. I don't know when this finally got released onto CD but I certainly couldn't find it for years. Never has the one-click button been so rapidly fired than when this popped up on my screen. I've have not listened to that much SATB (my loss I think) so how did I get into this lesser known work? I once had to borrow a pool car from work in 1987 spending a few days travelling around southern England. I forgot my box of tapes so the only thing I had to listen to was this Siouxsie covers version album which a previous user of the car had abandoned in the cassette player (their loss I think). Any port in a storm I thought - it's better than listening to an idiotic radio DJ for hours on end. I wasn't expecting much from a covers album but what a revelation this tape was. The choice of material is so eclectic. The obvious extremes being a Disney cartoon song from the Jungle Book and Billie Hollidays bleak 'Strange Fruit' done in part as a New Orleans style funeral march. How many white artists would dare interpret this song given the subject matter, much less succeed against the odds. These two are only separated by Siouxsies interpretation of a song (Wheels On Fire) that, just a little later, would become forever more familiar as the 'Ab Fab' signature theme. Back then, even 'the Passenger' was nowhere near as ubiquitous as it is today. There really isn't a duff track on this album and the musical arrangements are often literally mesmerizing - ('Hall Of Mirrors'). Why was there never a volume II of yet more Siouxsie musical influences? I played it constantly for days on end whilst hacking up and down the M3 and M4 - and never got tired of it. On handing back the car I 'liberated' the tape which was unfortunately lacking its case and liner notes. At the first opportunity I was down at the V*rg*n Megastore (pre-Amazon days these) buying the previously mentioned vinyl copy to get the original artist details from the sleeve notes. So 5 stars it is from me for this album. And it doesn't even have their most famous cover version on it - the sublime Siouxsie version of 'Dear Prudence'. I'm never driving anywhere without this in the cd changer from now on.
the album "through the looking glass," at the time of release, was deemed to be a useless piece of rubbish by the critics, however, i hugely disagree. the banshees took songs that had some meaning for them and turned them into songs that sounded as though they could of been banshees songs all along. actually, in some cases, i think their versions are vast improvements on the origionals, particularily "the passenger" which with it fabulous orchestral and brass arrangements is an all together more pleasing song than iggy pops origional. when conversing with banshees fans i always seem to get the same comments, that they feel they shouldn't hold it in such high regard as it's not origional banshees material, but at the same time, they absolutely love it! so do i, it's one of my most favourite albums!
Siouxsie & the Banshees covers lp (recorded relatively quickly after the protracted productions of Hyaena & Tinderbox)is one that I've always got a lot of time for as it introduced me (the teen Cure/Banshees/New Order/Echo/Smiths etc fan) to such great acts as Iggy Pop (with Bowie), Sparks, Kraftwerk (the first Kraftwerk LP I owned was Trans Europe Express, though for some reason I had the German version!), The Doors & Eno-era Roxy Music. The Banshees & producer Mike Hedges certainly made an interesting selection & offered up versions of the songs that were both faithful and very much their own... The LP opens with a faithful rendition of Sparks' This Town Ain't Big Enough for the Both of Us (from Kimino My House- like many of the covers here, the songs come from key 70s LPs), prior to a cover of Kraftwerk's The Hall of Mirrors (from Trans Europe Express) that is very much a Banshees-track. Things get more adventerous with Trust in Me from Disney's The Jungle Book, which has much in common with The Creatures' output & cover versions like Right Now. Next up is the single This Wheel's on Fire, a song recorded by several artists (Dylan- who co-wrote it with Rick Danko; The Band; Julie Driscoll)- but given the drama you expect from the band who recorded string-soaked epics like Dazzle & Fireworks. The first side concludes on a cover of Billie Holiday's Strange Fruit- which is given a New Orleans funeral feel and along with Israel (& Siouxsie's adoption of St David's Star to irk skinhead-nazis- see the biography) shows that the accusations of fascism/racism etc were wide of the mark. Strange Fruit remember is about slavery and depicts a lynching- though it's dark (perhaps more Southern Gothic than Gothic?) & perfectly suited to a band who have previously focused on mental disorder, voodoo, & other sinister joys... The second side opens with a cover of The Doors' You're Lost Little Girl, this has a very 60s production (Hedges was quite OTT- see Almond's LPs with the Willing Sinners)- it makes me think of Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby (or Catherine Deneuve in Repulsion), for some reason! Next-up is a cover of Iggy's classic The Passenger, which is perfectly satisfactory & got performed on a surreal episode of The Tube shot around cult series The Prisoner! The LP concludes on the three-best tracks here- a brilliant version of John Cale's Gun (from Fear- not as long as Cale's, almost as scary!); a gorgeous take on Roxy Music's Sea Breezes (from the debut) & finally a version of Television's debut single/cult Little Johnny Jewel- which typifies the record: a song you think untouchable is rendered wonderfully, balancing the Banshees i.d. with the source song. So here are ten clues that explain the Banshees' back catalogue from the late 70s to the mid 80s! Through the Looking Glass remains one of the better covers-collections, and should be thought of alongside such records as A Woman's Story (Marc Almond), Counterfeit (Martin L Gore) & the myriad of cover versions recorded by This Mortal Coil on such LPs as Blood & It'll End in Tears. Of course it's nowhere near the heights of the Banshees' greatest LPs Ju-Ju, A Kiss in the Dreamhouse & The Scream...
Rarely is a 'covers' album worth the time it took to record it, or the space it takes in one's album collection. Siouxsie and the Banshees' Through the Looking Glass is the best exception I've ever run across to that rule. It's one to keep on the play list that's for sure.
Contractual obligations or not all 10 songs on the offering are crafted in such a manner you forget that they are covers and could have been Banshee originals. The recipe for success seems to lie in dropping all pretensions and simply trying to have some fun with it. Not only was this album largely ahead of its time conceptually, but it remains one of the better examples of the now-tired genre of covers albums. Only perhaps the Bunnymen are capable of enhancing any covers they chose to do.
This album contains numerous gems. I still like Siouxsie's "The Passenger" better than Iggy Pop's version and down right sexy. "Gun" is at least as good as John Cale's original. There's chilling, haunting take on Bob Dylan's 'This Wheel's On Fire'. Interesting versions of Television's 'Little Johnny Jewel', Kratwerk's 'Hall Of Mirrors', Sparks Its number 1 all over Heaven and the harp-driven wonder of 'Trust In Me' ( My Favourite) from 'Jungle Book', the transformation from snake (in Disney's Jungle Book) to man-eating vamp works surprisingly well.
Looking back this album is now some 16 years old (1995) and was 16 years to the banshee career that began way back in 1978. But its still sound fresh and invigorating. I begging to turn into my parents the old stuff is defiantly the best.
I guess if you're reading this your toying with the idea of buying it. Do yourself a favour do it, you won't regret it.
I'm not usually keen on cover version albums especially since the x factor karaoke disasters the banshees do a good job here impressive but not obvious choices left field rock as would be expected this version includes b sides and the 12" mixes
Another great album. I did own this when it first came out. Sold all my vinyl some years back and have been meaning to replace. Glad I did there's not a bad track on this. Plus extra tracks which are worth it too.