Vox (February '98)

Beat of the Beasts

The Creatures

"A Bestiary Of The Creatures"


Siouxsie and Budgie's side-project

By Ian Fortnam

Although the band had enjoyed some measure of cult success among 1977's teutonically obsessed, gothically inclined, minimalist punk rock elite, Siouxsie and the Banshees were pretty much a one-trick pony until the arrival of their long-standing virtuoso drummer Budgie -- who had previously stunned the entire punk cosmos with his inspired stickwork on the Slits' remarkable "Cut" debut -- offered unlimited potential for artistic expansion and experimentation.

While recording the band's darker-than-thou fourth album, "Juju," a stripped-down, drum'n'voice version of the song "But Not Them" was recorded. Though deemed unsuitable for release under the Banshees' name, it was sufficient quality for Siouxsie and Budgie to persevere with the concept behind, which consequently became the blueprint for an enduring and fruitful side-project, The Creatures.

"Bestiary" is a collection of work recorded between '81 and '83 and, despite the fact that the majority of The Creatures' canon was deemed overly pretentious and self-indulgent on its original release, it stands the test of time surprisingly well.

The debut "Wild Things" EP is the most primitive material on offer; one man's spirited approximation of the then fashionable Burundi sound augmented by fog-horn Siouxsie's singularly macabre lyricism. The Band's first album, "Feast," is a far more exotic affair, spiced up with myriad musical and percussive influences from all corners of the globe, due in part, presumably, to the fact that it was recorded in the tropical heat of Hawaii. And "Bestiary" concludes with the band's spirited, chart-busting rendition of Mel Torme's "Right Now," complete with the strident brass sound which was, in 1989, to characterize their second album, "Boomerang."

*** (out of four)

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