30 years ago, April 1982 – Sisters of Mercy “Body Electric” single

Leaving the, er, experimental efforts the Sister’s debut single over a year previously, Body Electric launched the Sisters into the maturing goth/alternative scene in 1982.  And, generally, people sat up and took notice.  Compared to the stunning works to follow, Body Electric sounds a bit anemic.

The drum machine’s a bit ratty, the guitar’s a bit thin and the bass is, well, basic, but it was THAT sound – THE Sisters sound – which, along with Bauhaus, would define that early eighties goth sound – plus image and attitude.  Body Electric was a blueprint for what was to come.  Indeed even the artwork and typography – integral to the Sister’s brand – was already well established.

From the excellent “1959 and all that” site:

Contemporary cash flow problems at Merciful Release meant that the Sisters second single was released on the CNT label out of York. CNT (Confederacion National de Trabajo) was the name of an anarchist worker’s collective which was active in the Spanish Civil War.

The cover features Francis Bacon’s excellent Head VI, one of a series of Bacon pictures based on Velasquez’s portrait of Pope Innocent X.

Musically and lyrically, Body Electric and Adrenochrome represent a significant advance on the Damage Done single. Dr Avalanche (Drums) and Craig Adams (Bass) had been recruited along with some decent equipment, and the furious, intense, thrilling wall of noise was impressive enough to bag the `Single of the Week’ slot in the Melody Maker.

The title is taken from Walt Whitman’s poem “I sing the Body Electric”.

Click here to see all Sisters of Mercy articles.

The Sisters of Mercy – “Body Electric”, 1982

Through the cables and the underground now,
The faceless breathless calls,
This is Babel, sensurround now,
This place is death with walls.

Too much contact, no more feeling,
The sound around them all,
Acid on the floor so she walk on the ceiling,
And the body electric flashes on the bathroom wall,
And the body electric flashes on the bathroom wall,
Crawling to the corners where the idiot children call,
See the body flashing on the bathroom wall.

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