SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES – “The Staircase (Mystery)” / “20th Century Boy” (Polydor POSP 9) April 1979
Apart from the fact that most of today’s records are heavier sounding, a large chunk of ’70s new wave seems to be evolving into re-runs of either ’50s rock ‘n’ roll, early ’60s beat-pop, or, as in this case, late ’60s acid-rock.
The ‘mystery’ of the song is solved if you speculate that the band were zonked out of their brains when they wrote it. This is not necessarily a criticism; just an observation. In fact both sides of the record (the flip is their version of Marc Bolan’s “20th Century Boy”) are powerfully attractive. (Smash Hits)
So what’s left of punk rock. With the loss of the Pistols and the Americanisation of The Clash, we’re left with Sham 69 and Siouxsie & the Banshees. Both these bands are considered to be uncompromising in their idealism, and that seems to be a little odd in the circumstances. Sham’s last hit was a celebration of going down the pub. Siouxsie & the Banshees gave us a song about Chinese takeaways.
Nothing too revolutionary about any of that. Since then, of course, both bands have made a bit of money and naturally you’d expect that to affect their choice of material. This time, maybe, a tune about wine bars from Sham and one about bistros from Siouxsie.
Siouxsie’s trying terribly hard to be mysterious as the hint in brackets might suggest. All four Banshees had a hand in the songwriting, but they seem to have misplaced the tune somewhere. Nothing wrong with that, of course. Just the thing for oddball albums about fashionable psychiatry. Hardly the ticket, though for Radio One?? (NME)