Siouxsie and the Banshees

Through the Looking Glass

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Following Tinderbox's success but still not working as well with John Valentine Carruthers as they could have, Siouxsie and the Banshees kept him on for one further album -- a covers collection, much in the vein of band inspiration David Bowie's Pin-Ups. Through the Looking Glass is more than a time killer but less than a total success -- if anything it's seen more now as a chance for the band to refocus before ditching Carruthers and creating the stunning Peepshow. But there have been far worse efforts from other performers in this vein, and there's a cool, giddy fun at work throughout that makes it a fine listen. The inspired range of covers reaches from glam-era landmarks (Roxy Music's "Sea Breezes," John Cale's "Gun") to Billie Holiday's sorrowful touchstone "Strange Fruit" to, in one of the best such efforts ever (and a year before Hal Willner's Stay Awake project), a Disney classic -- namely the slinky "Trust in Me," originally from The Jungle Book and given a spare, mostly-Budgie backing that could almost be a sparkling Creatures outtake. Some takes are more or less direct clones without much to add -- Sparks' "This Town Isn't Big Enough for Both of Us" misses the sheer hysteria that Russell Mael brought to the original, but Iggy Pop's "The Passenger" adds a bit of horn-section punch and lets Siouxsie demonstrate her ability with calm, dismissive cool. Turning Kraftwerk's empty, haunted "Hall of Mirrors" into a much more propulsive, Morricone guitar-tinged number makes for a fine reinvention, though, while Bob Dylan-via-Julie Driscoll's "This Wheel's on Fire" made for an enjoyable, string-touched single from the album. And if anyone needed proof that the Banshees were obsessive fan types when they started, the concluding cover of Television's debut obscurity "Little Johnny Jewel" would provide it.

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