Siouxsie and the Banshees

Downside Up

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A long time ago, back in late '80s or so, CD box sets were unleashed upon the music-buying public. Box sets like the Led Zeppelin box or Aerosmith's Pandora's Box were mostly hits affairs, with a few rarities (B-sides, live tracks, demos) to entice both fan and newcomer. In later years, however, a new concept in anthologizing a band's career came to the multi-disc format: the B-side box set. This new and more complete way of packaging the lesser-known moments of a long-running band walks a fine line between a treasure trove of great material with better sound on a better format and just plain overkill, the kind of collection that no one but the most rabid fan would care about. In the case of Downside Up, Siouxsie and the Banshees' contribution to the box set world, it's a little bit of both. On the one hand, there are not many newcomers to the band who need to hear the chaotic sound sculpture of "(There's A) Planet in My Kitchen," much less four discs of totally unfamiliar music. On the other hand, it would be a shame to miss out on some incredibly great music, albeit rather experimental and, at times, difficult. The first disc, especially, is loaded with what could arguably be some of the Banshees' finest moments. The rocking cover of T. Rex's "20th Century Boy," the better (and somewhat more fitting in German) than the original English version "Mettageisen (Metal Postcard)," "Drop Dead/Celebration," "Eve White/Eve Black," and the synth-based "Snap Dash Snap" are more than enough reason to invest in Downside Up. From then on, it gets a bit spotty, but the quality is still evident. Any band that is able to stay together for 20 years is going to have some weak moments. Over time Siouxsie and the Banshees would put their more experimental side to rest on album and single releases, but it didn't disappear completely. While some of discs two and three are a bit more straightforward than the earlier stuff, the experiments and lesser-known tracks such as "She's Cuckoo," "Mechanical Eyes," and "El Dia de los Muertos" are better than some of what ended up on the full-lengths. Disc four, however, does not play into the chronology of the rest of the set. Rather, it is the first official CD appearance of The Thorn EP, which was originally released in 1984. Here the band re-recorded some of its best early songs in a more updated and orchestral light. "Overground" especially takes on a whole new life as a strings-driven piece. So what's the final verdict on Downside Up? Does anyone really need "(There's A) Planet in My Kitchen"? No, not really, but the amount of killer well outweighs the filler here. It may be a bit much to invest, but for a moderate to rabid fan, it's damn worth it. Simply put, it's a collection of great songs from a great band, and that's what really matters.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 5:33 Amazon
2 1:59
3 3:25
4 4:10
5 4:25
6 3:04
7 4:36
8 2:49
9 3:42
10 4:26
11 4:15
12 3:32
13 3:39
14 4:30
15 3:52
16 4:19
17 2:32

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 3:30
2 5:23
3 3:37
4 4:23
5 4:38
6 4:51
7 3:50 Spotify
8 4:55 Spotify
9 3:32 Spotify
10 4:14 Spotify
11 4:44 Spotify
12 5:10 Spotify
13 3:07
14 4:15
15 3:56 Spotify
16 3:54 Spotify
17 3:36 Spotify

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 2:51 Spotify
2 4:57 Spotify
3 4:21 Spotify
4 4:44 Spotify
5 3:38 Spotify
6 4:27 Spotify
7 3:16 Spotify
8 5:03 Spotify
9 3:55 Spotify
10 4:35 Spotify
11 4:31 Spotify
12 3:31 Spotify
13 3:48 Spotify
14 4:41
15
6:12 Spotify
16 6:05 Spotify
17 3:10 Spotify
blue highlight denotes track pick