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The Scream

Album The Scream front

Release Date:
13 November 1978 Polydor, Geffen
Guitars & Saxophone:
Drums and Percussion:
Album Tracks:

The Scream is the debut studio album by English rock band Siouxsie and the Banshees, released in November 1978 on Polydor Records. Even before this release, the band already had a strong reputation as a live act as well as having a Top 10 UK single under their belt with "Hong Kong Garden" (which did not appear on the original album).

The Scream was an almost instant critical and commercial success, peaking at number 12 in the UK Albums Chart.[1] The album is today acknowledged as a classic; Uncut magazine rated it at number 43 in their list of "The 100 Greatest Debut Albums".[2] The Scream is widely regarded as a landmark of post-punk.

Reception Edit

The Scream was hailed as "the best debut album of the year" 1978 by Sounds.[3] Critic Peter Silverton gave the album five stars.[4] The other reviews were also very positive. Melody Maker described the sound as "strong, abrasive, visceral and constantly inventive, with a thrust that makes the spaces equal partners to the notes" and the critic then made a parallel with Pere Ubu for the textures.[5]

Kris Needs of ZigZag qualified it as a "magnificent record".[6] He wrote : "The John Peel sessions told me months ago that, when it came, the Banshees album would be a cut above the usual Promising First Album. But even my sky-high anticipations hadn't set me up for this".[6]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 [7]
Sounds 5/5 [4]

Several journalists from NME also praised the record. Nick Kent first stated that the band sounded "like some unique hybrid of the Velvet Underground mated with much of the ingenuity of Tago Mago era Can." He then focused his attention to the opening track and said: "Pure takes the sound to its ultimate juncture, leaving spaces that say as much as the notes being played. Certainly, the traditional three-piece sound has never been used in a more unorthodox fashion with such stunning results."[8] In December 1978, another critic from NME, Paul Morley, described the music on The Scream as "unlike anything in rock":

It is not, as some would say, chaotic - it is controlled. Each instrument operates within its own space, its own time, as if mocking the lines of other instruments. Known rock is inverted, leaving just traces of mimickry of rock's cliches - satire that often bursts with glorious justification into shaking celebration (as on "Helter Skelter"). It is easy to gain attention by doing something which is crudely obviously out of the ordinary, but the Banshees have avoided such futile superficialities; it is innovation, not revolution, not a destruction but new building. It has grown out of rock - Velvets, "Station To Station", Bolan. And Siouxsie's staggering voice is dropped, clipped, snapped prominently above this audacious musical drama, emphasizing the dark colours and empty, naked moods.[9]

Album Sequence:

Preceded by:
Love In A Vortex (Unofficial Release)
Followed by:
Join Hands
See all albums...

Writer Don Watson later pictured it in the NME as "something that whipped the past into a great whirpool of noise, pulling the future down."[10]

Rolling Stone gave a very favourable review : "On their spare but striking debut album, England's Siouxsie and the Banshees deftly meld the edgy, death-rattle guitar and walloping drums of the best post-punk bands with the soaring vocals and shivery power chords of the oft-maligned early Jefferson Airplane. The Scream's sound, stark though fully realized (thanks partly to a most simpatico co-producer, Steve Lillywhite), is lent added intellectual dimension by a series of disturbingly ambiguous lyrical images".[11]

The record is today seen as a classic by several critics.[12][13]

This album placed the group among the pioneers of post-punk as Robert Smith of The Cure said it :

"When The Scream came out, I remember it was much slower than everybody thought. It was like the forerunner of the Joy Division sound, it was just big - sounding."[14]

The razor-sharp, slashing strings of Bernard Herrmann's score to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho particularly inspired the band for the music of "Suburban Relapse", where the guitars echo to the knife-screeching violins of the famous shower scene.[15]

Legacy Edit

The Scream had a strong impact on other musicians. Massive Attack covered and sampled "Metal Postcard" on their song "Superpredators (Metal Postcard)" in 1997 for the soundtrack to the movie The Jackal.[16] Morrissey made "Mirage" play during intermission before all his concerts of his 1991's Kill Uncle tour.[17] Morrissey's main composer Boz Boorer also rated The Scream highly, rating it as number two in his "Top Five Desert Island Album Selection", following T. Rex's Electric Warrior.[18] Garbage lead singer wikipedia:Shirley Manson told the Melody Maker that she has a special liking for this record.[19] The Scream was also hailed by the singer of Suede, Brett Anderson.[20]

Reissues Edit

The Scream was reissued in the UK on 27 October 2005 (28 October in the USA) as part of Universal's Deluxe Edition series. The new edition featured a wikipedia:remastered version of the album on the first disc, while the second disc contained demo and live tracks together with the singles from that period.

A first single disc edition was edited in 2006 with a noticeable digital distortion, so a flawless remastered version was reissued in 2007.

Track listing Edit

No. TitleWriter(s) Length
1. "Pure" (Instrumental)  1:50
2. "Jigsaw Feeling" (Lyrics: Severin)Severin, McKay 4:39
3. "Overground" (Lyrics: Severin)Severin, McKay 3:50
4. "Carcass" (Lyrics: Sioux)Severin, Sioux, Fenton 3:49
5. "Helter Skelter"  Lennon, McCartney 3:46
6. "Mirage" (Lyrics: Severin)Severin, McKay 2:50
7. "Metal Postcard (Mittageisen)" (Lyrics: Sioux)McKay, Sioux 4:14
8. "Nicotine Stain" (Lyrics: Sioux)Severin, Sioux 2:58
9. "Suburban Relapse" (Lyrics: Sioux)McKay, Sioux 4:12
10. "Switch" (Lyrics: Sioux)McKay, Sioux 6:49
2005 Deluxe Edition bonus disc
No. Title Length
1. "Make Up to Break Up (Riverside Session)"    
2. "Love in a Void (Peel Session 1)"    
3. "Mirage (Peel Session 1)"    
4. "Metal Postcard (Mittageisen) (Peel Session 1)"    
5. "Suburban Relapse (Peel Session 1)"    
6. "Hong Kong Garden (Peel Session 2)"    
7. "Overground (Peel Session 2)"    
8. "Carcass (Peel Session 2)"    
9. "Helter Skelter (Peel Session 2)"    
10. "Metal Postcard (Pathway Session)"    
11. "Suburban Relapse (Pathway Session)"    
12. "The Staircase (Mystery) (Pathway Session)"    
13. "Mirage (Pathway Session)"    
14. "Nicotine Stain (Pathway Session)"    
15. "Hong Kong Garden (7" Single Version)"    
16. "The Staircase (Mystery) (7" Single Version)"    
Remastered single-disc digipack: 2006 (bad pressing), 2007 (good pressing)
No. TitleWriter(s) Length
1. "Pure"  McKay, Severin, Morris, Sioux  
2. "Jigsaw Feeling"  Severin, McKay  
3. "Overground"  Severin, McKay  
4. "Carcass"  Severin, Sioux, Fenton  
5. "Helter Skelter"  Lennon, McCartney  
6. "Mirage"  Severin, McKay  
7. "Metal Postcard (Mittageisen)"  McKay, Sioux  
8. "Nicotine Stain"  Severin, Sioux  
9. "Suburban Relapse"  McKay, Sioux  
10. "Switch"  McKay, Sioux  
11. "Hong Kong Garden (7" A-side)" (Lyrics: Sioux)Sioux/Severin/McKay/Morris  
12. "The Staircase (Mystery) (7" A-side)" (Lyrics: Sioux)Sioux/Severin/McKay/Morris  

Personnel Edit

Additional personnel

References Edit

  1. "ChartArchive - Siouxsie And The Banshees - The Scream". Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  2. "100 Greatest Debut Albums". Uncut (August 2006). 
  3. Pete Silverton. "The Most Elitist Band in The World". Sounds (25 November 1978). "The Banshees' lyrics are both acute and forceful. [...] What does matter with the Banshees is that they've made the best debut album of the year so far and that their live shows have a depth rarely achieved by any bands. The almost intuitive interplay of Kenny's fat yet elusive drumming, Steve's simple bass, John's unorthodox blend of chords and brief, flurried runs, and Siouxsie's unique voice combine in an utterly irresistible way." 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Pete Silverton. "The Scream review". Sounds (21 October 1978). "The result is the best set of demo tapes you are ever likely to hear in your life, the only possible competitor being the stones IBC demos and the 101'ers fabled sessions for Chiswick. Just like The Clash, they've set themselves an almost impossible task - the second album." 
  5. Ian Birch. "Scream and scream again". Melody Maker (21 October 1978). "The sound that emerged is strong, abrasive, visceral and constantly inventive, with a thrust that makes the spaces equal partners to the notes. Possible blood relatives to the Banshees in this respect (and maybe in textures as well) are the Velvet Underground, Wire, Can and Pere Ubu." 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Needs, Kris (November 1978). "Siouxsie and the Banshees: The Scream album review". ZigZag. Rock's Backpages (subscription required). Retrieved 2-1-2012. 
  7. Ned Raggett. "The Scream - Siouxsie and the Banshees". Allmusic. Retrieved 3 November 2011. 
  8. Nick Kent. "Bansheed! What's In An Image?". NME (26 August 1978). 
  9. Paul Morley. "Siouxsie And The banshees". NME (23 December 1978). 
  10. Don Watson. "The Howling". NME (22 February 1986). 
  11. Loder, Kurt (4 October 1979 (RS301)). "The Scream review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 10-1-2012. 
  12. Robert Dimery (2005). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Cassell Illustrated. 
  13. "77 Punk Smashers!". Mojo (Punk: The Whole Truth!). Spring 2005. 
  14. Sutherland, Steve. "Disturbing Old Ghosts". Melody Maker. 1 October 1983. p. 37
  15. "Episode 3". The Movie That Changed My Life. 31 July 2009. No. 3. "'Suburban Relapse' was made with aggressive strings, discordant, jarring stabs and 'Staircase Mystery' is a tribute to both Herrmann and Hitchcock"
  16. " - massive attack discography - tune info + lyrics - superpredators". Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  17. "Morissey under the influence: music". Archived from the original on 15 July 2011. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  18. "Q & A Pt 4". 21 November 2006. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  19. Simpson, Dave. "Rebellious Jukebox". Melody Maker (28 March 1998). "Siouxsie embodied everything I wanted to be when I was a freaky adolescent. She was really articulate and string[sic]; there's so much power in songs like 'Jigsaw Feeling'. Siouxsie was my first schoolgirl crush. I always wanted black hair and black eyebrows but I couldn't have been further from that whole look because I was ginger! I still listen to 'The Scream' to this day and it's amazing." 
  20. "Some Current Fascinations". Retrieved 1 November 2011.