SIOUXSIE & the BANSHEES – “Hong Kong Garden” / “Voices” (Polydor 2059 052) August 1978

I had been writing about my records on my now defunct blog since 2007 and covered Siouxsie & the Banshees a few times but not for the last nine years! So it’s about time I concentrated on their debut disc today.

The group were one of first punk rock outfits but were one of the last to get signed to a record deal. I’ve read that A&R men were too scared to go to Banshees gigs because they often erupted in violence and Siouxsie was something of a control freak and openly held the music industry in contempt.

This may explain why it took until the Summer of ’78 for their first single to come out on the Polydor label.

“Hong Kong Garden” is notable for John McKay’s oriental guitar motif which gives it that unique sound. Strong radio plays, exposure in the music press and an appearance on Top Of The Pops ensured that the record went Top 10. (YPS)

By Summer 1978, Siouxsie & the Banshees were punk’s most cultish heroes-in-waiting. Two extraordinary sessions for John Peel, several uncompromising interviews and a rash of ‘Sign The Banshees’ graffiti had whetted appetites to saturation point.

“A&R” men were too scared to come and see us because most of our shows erupted into violence.” recalls Steve Severin. “Then, out of the blue, we wrote Hong Kong Garden.”

After some abortive sessions with US soul producer Bruce Albertine, the song, uncharacteristically commercial and dominated by John McKay’s oriental guitar motif, was nailed with ice-cool clarity by rookie producer Steve Lillywhite.

Even stranger, the cries of ‘sell-out’ were muted; the Banshees juggled chart success with punk rock cred far longer than almost all their contemporaries. (Mojo)

A lot of people have been waiting a long time for this disc – waiting while the self-styled enfant terrible of the punk front line played cat and mouse with a music industry she openly regards with contempt and disdain.

But here it is, a brash, delirious two-chord triumph.

‘Hong Kong Garden’, a long time stage favourite, is a bright, vivid narrative, something like snapshots from the window of a speeding Japanese train, power-charged by the most original intoxicating guitar playing I’ve heard in a long long time.

Would you believe it’s going to played on Radio One? Would you believe Siouxsie & the Banshees on Top Of The Pops? Would you believe not one mention of Blon . . . . . oops. (NME)

Accessibility incarnated. I first heard this on a depressing Marquee Saturday about three months ago when the enterprising DJ slapped on the bootleg version and the insidiously cute Chinese riff burned itself on my mind indelibly.

I’ve now had the single in my grubby paws for thirty-six hours and I’m playing it every third record. I love every second – from John McKay’s flurried chording to Steven Severin’s pounding bass to Kenny Morris’s bruising drums to Siouxsie’s cockney intonations.

The first love song to a Chinese restaurant? (Record Mirror)

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