Friday, November 19, 2021

"Peek-A-Boo" by Siouxsie and the Banshees

Song#:  3679
Date:  10/15/1988
Debut:  92
Peak:  53
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Alternative Rock


Pop Bits:  Siouxsie Sioux (real name Susan Ballion) first started to gain attention when she and her friend Steven Severin saw a Sex Pistols show in London early in 1976. What the band was doing attracted them to the point where they followed and befriended the band. It wasn't long before Sioux and Severin decided to start their own band. Over the next couple of years, the band honed their skills and gained a sizable following. Although they had appeared on TV and even did a session with famed BBC DJ John Peel, record companies were either not interested or wanted to control the group. Finally, Polydor came along with an offer that suited the band and not long after signing with the label, they released their first single, 1978's "Hong Kong Garden." It became a big success reaching #7 in the UK. A debut album titled The Scream quickly followed. The critically acclaimed influential LP got to #12 in the UK. They followed that success with a series of LPs that all did well in the UK, but failed to do much of anything in the US. Their 1985 album Tinderbox broadened their audience a bit in the US with the track "Cities in Dust" getting to #17 on the Dance chart. After a covers LP, the band came back in '88 with Peepshow. It showcased some new sounds and was once again well-received by critics. The album's first single, "Peek-A-Boo," got a lot of attention at alternative/college stations and that plus some coverage on MTV led to the song becoming their first to reach the US Pop chart. It would get near the halfway mark while also getting to #14 Dance. It was enough to drive the album to #68, which was their best showing to-date. It took ten years, but Siouxsie and the Banshees were finally flirting with mainstream success in the US.

ReduxReview:  I got hooked on this song about 10 seconds after first hearing it. The reversed backing track along with the keyboard flute/woodwind riff got my attention immediately. The tune only progressed from there with the addition of Siouxsie's unmistakable voice and, of course, the accordion. It also helped that the song was catchy as hell. It was all fun, unusual, and even a little creepy in a sideshow kind of way. I ran out and got the single and then later the album, which was brilliant. I had heard of the band before this single, but never explored them. They were definitely not your typical mainstream band and their earlier LPs were an acquired taste, at least for me. Peepshow saw the band hitting their stride with more accessible tunes for the mainstream, but they were not selling out. It was just yet another side of the Banshees and I loved it. This single should have easily made the Top 40 and I was so disappointed when it stopped short. Both the song and album are still awesome.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) On September 10, 1988, Billboard magazine introduced their latest chart. Titled Modern Rock Tracks, the 40-slot list tallied the most played songs on modern/alt rock and college radio stations. The first #1 song on the new chart was Siouxsie and the Banshees' "Peek-A-Boo." It would stay there for two weeks. The band's follow up single "The Killing Jar" would later nearly top the chart getting to #2. In 2009, the chart would change names to Alternative Song. Then in 2020 it would change again to Alternative Airplay.  2) A lyrical passage in the song ended up causing a bit of a headache for the band. The line "Golly jeepers, where'd you get those weepers? Peepshow, creepshow, where did you get those eyes?" seemed just a bit too much of an infringement of the old 1938 standard "Jeepers Creepers." That song was written by Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer and first appeared in the '38 movie Going Places. It would go on to get an Oscar nod for Best Original Song. When Siouxsie's song came out, Warren and Mercer were dead, but the estates took notice and thought the band was a bit too liberal in taking lyrics from the original song. To avoid any legal action, the band opted to add Warren and Mercer as composers to the song's credits.  3) The unusual sound of the track came via another recording from the band. For their previous album of covers, 1987's Through the Looking Glass, they covered the John Cale song "Gun." At a point during the recording of that song, producer Mike Hedges on a whim turned the tape upside down and played it. The sound was so cool that the band decided to try and create another song from it, which became "Peek-A-Boo." Originally they though it could be a b-side to a single, but as the song developed they thought it was too special for that and saved it for Peepshow.

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