Sunday, May 29, 2022

The Albums of 1982: Siouxie and the Banshees: A Kiss in the Dreamhouse

Release Date: 5 November 1982

Members: Siouxie Sioux (vocals); Steven Severin (bass); John McGeoch (guitar, keyboards); Budgie (percussion)

Produced by Siouxie and the Banshees

Track List: Side One: Cascade; Green Fingers; Obsession; She's a Carnival; Circle

Side Two: "Melt!"; Painted Bird; Cocoon; Slowdive

The fifth album by Siouxie and the Banshees, A Kiss in the Dreamhouse, continued to expand their post-punk sound into neo-psychedelia. 

"Cascade" opens the record in dark but alluring note, love as both a destructive and instructive. Infectious bass hooks and Sioux's powerful and futuristic vocal creates a electric atmosphere of struggling through fog and woe. The psychedelia of "Green Fingers" creates a Sci-Fi type of power. "Obsession" takes the view of a possessed lover, a set-up for a Hitchcock film. The verses appear to switch point of view from the obsessive one and the one being stalked, but sometimes blurs. Spoken word, sensual, and haunting in delivery the track creates a sensual murkiness.  "She's a Carnival" follows another mysterious woman seducing and poisoning all she meets, the carnival atmosphere of the song adds to the fantastical grip of the record. "Circle" offers searing social commentary:

Pretty girl of 16 - has fun and runs crazy
Ruined girl of 16 -- like mother grows lazy
Next a 16 year old baby -- like mother grows lazy

The song comments on how cycles of abuse and lost potential are perpetuated by parents to children. It takes on a despairing sound the chorus repeats, but there are always off ramps if one has the courage and knowledge to take them. It's also a critique of the nuclear family and how it serves to reinforce bad tradition and patriarchal attitudes. 

"Melt!" is a swinging dark love song, returning to the theme of possession. "Painted Bird" uses bird imagery as a metaphor for human personality. "Cocoon" seems to be a metaphor for creativity, taking refuge for regeneration, "tapping out rhythms." There's a cabaret style to the song through a post-punk approach. "Slowdive" closes the album, emerging from the cocoon and taking on everything. 

A Kiss in the Dreamhouse still sounds modern in sound and theme 40 years later.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

The Albums of 1982: Kate Bush: The Dreaming

Release Date: September 13, 1982

All songs written and produced by Kate Bush

Side One: Sat in Your Lap; There Goes a Tenner; Pull Out the Pin; Suspended in Gaffa; Leave it Open

Side Two: The Dreaming; Night of the Swallow; All the Love; Houdini; Get Out of My House

Kate Bush's fourth album The Dreaming is rife with dense intensity, possessing its own power. The quixotic opener "Sat in Your Lap" features Bush's versatile vocal styles in a song about the frustrating quest for knowledge and spiritual knowledge. References to world religions, the sense of wanting part of and apart from humanity:

I see the people working

And see it working for them

And so I want to join in

But then I find it hurts me

Youthful impatience meets head on with yearning for wisdom, the quest, the war within oneself continues.

"There Goes a Tenner" tells the surreal tale of a bank heist, a 1940s Warner Bros. gangster flick filtered through a futuristic pop song. "Pull Out the Pin," Bush attempts to tell the Vietnam War from the prospective of one fighting the invading Americans, "I look in American eyes/I see little life/See little wife", confronting the Western armies who only have a vague notion of why they are waging war. The anti-technology ethos of the revolutionary narrator provides the upper hand in a violent and hypnotic song. 

"Suspended in Gaffa" is adventurous with its melodic pianos and use of low brass instruments, similar in theme to "Sat in Your Lap." "Leave it Open" shifts moods from conniving to introspective, the idea of how knowledge changes us and sometimes not for the better, but we must encompass all. Exploring ourselves must be done with caution, bravery, and curiosity. "We let the weirdness in" becomes anthemic. 

"The Dreaming" deals with white Australians using Aboriginal land for nuclear testing and mining uranium. The off-kilter rhythms and instrumentation create another unique soundscape; Bush's frenzied vocal emphasizes defiance and strength directed at injustice. "Night of the Swallow" is a dialogue between a husband and wife with "the troubles" as backdrop providing the song with an Irish ambience, a complex song on gender politics. "All the Love" deals with loneliness, the courage it takes to face solitude. "Houdini" takes the point of view of the magician's assistant, full of suggestive lyrics and mystery. "Get Out of My House" took direct inspiration from Stephen King's The Shining. Told from the hotel's point of view, but the song takes a life of its own. Creating an atmosphere of anger, loss, and fear, it sounds like a message from the beyond.

The ten tracks of The Dreaming are all works of art that stand on their own; as a whole, the album is a labyrinth of sonic landscapes, edgy ideas, and innovative arrangements. Bush's vocals linger and enrich the imagination. Ranging in theme from world politics to the spiritual battles within, a panorama of sound and imagery.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers #1

Release Date: November 9, 1976 Members: Tom Petty (vocals, guitar); Mike Campbell (guitars); Benmont Tench (piano, organ); Ron Blair (bass);...