“In defence of the Sisters Of Mercy” – excellent article

som_7_body-electric_1Haven’t seen this before, albeit three years old… an excellent Quietus article in defence of the Sisters of Mercy.

Along with The Birthday Party. The Sisters Of Mercy shared a deep and abiding love of The Stooges but where Nick Cave’s mob pursued the chaos of Funhouse, Eldritch and co adhered to the strict metronomic and sub-moronic riffing of the eponymous 1969 debut. Early tracks ‘Adrenachrome’ and ‘Floorshow’ owe much to the original noises that first emanated from Ann Arbour. And yet there was more to the Sisters’ sound. In addition to the Gary Marx’s spidery guitar lines, Ben Gunn’s intertwining six-string interaction and the strict mechanoid precision of drum machine Doktor Avalanche, much praise needs to be heaped on the booming bass lines of Craig Adams. While Marx would frequently be found utilising every inch of the stage as he threw the kind of shapes that marked him out a nascent guitar hero, Adams remained rooted to the spot, simply rocking backwards and forwards as his deeply unfashionable long hair covered his face as he belted out monolithic bass lines that transformed the sound of the band.

Indeed, it’s with their third single, ‘Alice’, where The Sisters of Mercy finally hit their stride. ‘The Damage Done’ had been a curio and ‘Body Electric’/’Adrenachrome’ found the band making significant strides to their signature sound but it all coalesced with ‘Alice’. Opening with Doktor Avalanche’s idiosyncratic beats – beats that were to become as instantly recognisable as John Bonham’s intro to Led Zeppelin’s ‘Rock ’n’ Roll’ – the track gives way to beautifully twisting guitars and Adams’ driving, droning and single-minded bass playing. The flipside, ‘Floorshow’, was every bit the equal of the parent track. Powerful in its simplicity, Eldritch’s attack on the pop values of the day was as damning as it was compelling on the dance floor. In retrospect, their reading of The Stooges’ ‘1969’ is a little to obvious but for a generation still to discover the delights of Iggy Pop, the track served as a gateway to world that was seriously at odds with the prevailing view of the 1960s as being little more than a hotchpotch of paisley, pot and patchouli.

READ THE REST OF THIS EXCELLENT ARTICLE HERE > > > The Quietus | Opinion | In Defence Of… | The Sisters Of Mercy Are Ripe For Reappraisal, Says Julian Marszalek.

One thought on ““In defence of the Sisters Of Mercy” – excellent article

  1. Couldn’t resist re-posting a comment from a Gods and Alcoves regular, and it’s pretty much my point of view exactly:

    Young Gunner, MAY 18, 2009 9:51AM

    Er, Julian, I’m not exactly sure why we are supposed to be reappraising the S.O.M. here – it’s unlikely that any new converts are likely to be found these days. And even less like likely ‘old’ converts. And if you didn’t like them back in the day then there’s no chance. Or are you just trying to convince us to dig out our old vinyl and dust off that old leather with the iconic stencil on the back?

    As for First, Last & Always, I think it easily matches the EP’s that preceded it. Yes, Hussey does play an electric 12 string and he did introduce a more melodic element – but not at the price of a drop in quality or a compromise in overall vision. It’s clear that they the major label budget was higher on F,L & A, but the sound is pristine from top to bottom. And “Marian (Version)” simply has to be classed as one of their best ever tracks. It even has a couple of verses sung in German – how much more Eldritch can a song get? [however, it was ripped off by Hussey when he recycled the track, note-for-note, for the Missions’s Wasteland, but nevermind.]

    Don’t get me started on Floodland tho. Eldritch’s best days are clearly behind him at this point — call me a Luddite, but I’d rather hear Hussey’s electric 12-string over Steinmann’s over-produced synthy strings and choirs any day. Who exactly was in the ‘band’ at this point and what did Eldritch contribute musically? Even Doktor Avalanche sounds like he’s been upgraded to an 808. AND, what’s the point of being ironic if no one notices?

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