Inspired by our series of articles looking back at music released 30 years ago, Jimmy Hunter takes a step further back in time to give us a Song of the Day 1979. This week, he sends us a metal postcard from his sickbed...
I could have picked an easier record to review this week, given that I'm riddled with some kind of virus that keeps sending me to sleep (until it wakes me up coughing) but I never make life easy for myself. And also, this is a great record, so bear with me. I'll try not to ramble [right, well that never happens!! - Ed].
1979 was the peak of disco in its current form but commercial success was being enjoyed by many bands in other genres. I think we now all know that whilst the BRMB charts may not have been "fixed", exactly, they certainly didn't represent singles sales very accurately.
Having enjoyed commercial success a year before this with the debut single Hong Kong Garden, Siouxsie and The Banshees release a re-recorded version of Metal Postcard - now recorded in German: Mittageisen. My earlier comment about picking a simpler record relates to the complex meaning of this record, its history, its association and Siouxsie Sioux herself.
Musically, the record is accomplished in my view and has a strong familiar sound. I say familiar because this is the sound we came to expect from the band and Siouxsie herself in the coming years. The bass intro followed by the guitars and then a haunting vocal leading into lyrics that tell of a catastrophic future under a totalitarian dictatorship. I do think that, along with Kate Bush, Siouxsie Sioux has been one of the most intelligent, abstract and off the wall of 20th century songwriters.
The repetitive guitar riff along with the backing vocal give the record a hook, Siouxsie's lead vocal is unmistakable and renders the German lyric almost unintelligible which I quite like. The band constructed many tracks like this and although at first listen they may sound simple, I don't think they're lacking in complex as much as we may think.
Rerecorded for this release and on the Polydor label, this was initially released in Germany where there was a very strong anti capitalist movement which resonated with this record's stark anti fascist sub text: Sioux had been criticised for wearing swastikas on her outfits and this was a smack in the mouth to those who accused her of fascism. Released in Germany first for a very good reason.
There's much more to the history of this record but I'll leave it there - have a look and listen at this performance recorded for German TV in 1979. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do and as much as I have in rediscovering it.
Image - Amazon