Iterations: Siouxsie & The Banshees – “Spellbound”

Iterations: Siouxsie & The Banshees – “Spellbound”

I’ve only just started the latest season of Stranger Things, but already know that Siouxsie & The Banshees’ “Spellbound”, the lead single from their 1981 album Juju, gets a sync in one of the final episodes. Will this be the band’s “Running Up That Hill” moment and net them a 40-years-later #1 and multimillion-dollar windfall? Probably not, but it will get them a post on an ultra-niche blog with dozens (sometimes) of readers, which is almost as good.

uDiscoverMusic also took advantage of the song’s moment in the pop-cultural spotlight and just ran a feature on the song that’s remarkably well-researched and written considering the outlet is essentially a PR arm for Universal Music. They reference Johnny Marr’s quote about John McGeoch’s playing on the song taken from the 2008 BBC special on the guitarist, named for the song, shared hereabouts last year:

It’s so clever… in three ways he’s attacking it. He’s got the sound of a 12-string acoustic, which is a great thing you didn’t really hear very much on records. And then he’s got this really good picking thing going on which was very un-rock’n’roll. And this actual tune he’s playing is really quite mysterious.

Johnny Marr
Spellbound: The John McGeoch Story via uDiscoverMusic.com

Trampolines aren’t the first thing you think of when you hear Siouxsie & The Banshees, but there was definitely one on hand for the making of the official video for the song:

The song got as high as number 22 on the UK charts, earning the band an appearance on Top Of The Pops in April 1981:

It’s unclear when and where this live performance comes from, but it’s still McGeoch on guitar, professionally-shot, and the poster says “1981” so the Spellbound Live ’81 VHS released in 1984 seems like a reasonable guess… but it’s not, because the video following it – shot at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham in August 1981, is. So what is this one? I dunno.

The provenance of this clip is also unclear; setlist.fm doesn’t have the band performing in Germany in September 1981, but does have five dates there in July, though nothing that looks like a festival that would have been a daytime setting. Anyways. Goths in the sun.

This clip has Robert Smith on guitar, so it’s obviously from the Nocturne live video, companion to the double-live album of the same name, shared in its entirety hereabouts back in March.

And while there aren’t really any covers of this song out there, there is at least this one by The Mountain Goats – or John Darnielle solo – at the “Boys Rock for Girls Rock” benefit for Girls Rock of North Carolina in June 2014:

And because I’m a bit of a sucker for strings, a version by the Manchester String Quartet from their A Gothic Halloween release:

But if you’re concerned about the dearth of versions, here’s a lesson on how to play it from Anyone Can Play Guitar – as McGeoch riffs go, it’s not that hard. I mean, it’s not easy but it’s not “Hallowe’en”.

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