100 best covers: #85 Siouxsie and the Banshees “The passenger”

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In 1983, noted post-punk, gothic rock band, Siouxsie and the Banshees released a cover of The Beatles’ “Dear Prudence” that featured The Cure frontman, Robert Smith on guitar. It was a massive success for the band, giving them their biggest hit single to date and garnering them plenty of kudos for the rendition. This one cover, in turn, inspired the group to record a whole album of covers, much like David Bowie did with “Pin ups” in the early 70s. They finally got around to launching this project four years later. The resulting album was “Through the looking glass”, its title a nod to the work of Lewis Carroll, and it included covers of a bunch of songs recorded before their inception, by bands (like Roxy Music, John Cale, and The Doors) who had inspired the Banshees and their music.

As you could’ve easily guessed by now, my favourite of the bunch was their version of Iggy Pop’s “The passenger”. The original recording of the song appeared on Pop’s second studio album, “Lust for life”, included contributions by David Bowie on backing vocals, and was co-written by lead guitarist Ricky Gardiner, who came up with that iconic and instantly recognizable, rollicking guitar riff. Iggy Pop’s original is dark and foreboding because of its austere sounding production and the deep and chilling vocals, whereas Siouxsie Sioux and her Banshees’ version is gothic because her and who she is.

Siouxsie’s version is also more symphonic, including a horn flourish that has a melody not heard in the original. It is a bit peppier, seemingly sped up some but that is probably just an illusion of sound. Siouxsie as always is dramatic and glamorous, her flamboyant vocals changing the tone and mood. And like many of the other songs on this covers album, the original artist, in this case Iggy, has praised and Siouxsie and the Banshees for their version, with Pop pointing out her vocal work as bringing something new to the song that he only wish he’d thought of.

For my part, “The passenger” is another case where I enjoy the original and cover with equal fervour, despite them being quite different. Indeed, I have no issue singing “la, la, la, la, la, la, la” loudly along with either one. Enjoy.

The cover:

The original:

For the rest of the 100 best covers list, click here.