(So before I get too far into this post, I need to come clean right here about the fact that a good part of the posts in this list had originally been written for and posted on my old blog, Music Insanity, last year. Parts of this particular post were originally published in April 2016 and my friend Tim, who figures prominently in the text below, emailed me shortly after it went public to say that he felt almost like a guest contributor.)
I was introduced to The Mission by Tim back in high school. I had asked him to record me a copy of The Wonder Stuff’s “Hup” to cassette from his vinyl version. Of course, as we did back in those days when an album fit all on one side of a C90, he filled the other side with a mix of songs that he liked from other records in his collection. Two of those tracks were “Deliverance” and “Butterfly on a wheel”, both from The Mission’s 1990 album, “Carved in sand”.
My knowledge of the gothic rock band is limited to anecdotal bits of information, like the fact that they were formed in 1986 by Wayne Hussey and Craig Adams when they left/were kicked out of The Sisters of Mercy. So rather than make stuff up for the post, I decided to go back to the source and I texted Tim to see if he could give me more to go on. I started off by asking for his top five Mission songs.
“Hmm. Tower of strength, Deliverance, Butterfly on a wheel, their cover of Neil Young’s Like a Hurricane, and Wasteland. Haven’t listened to them in a while.”
Then, I asked him for his thoughts on “Butterfly on a wheel” because this post was originally going to focus on that song (more on that in a moment).
“I’d say it’s aged better than a lot of their stuff, and is one of those songs that show how they really wanted to be Zeppelin, with all the cheesy, over-the-top imagery. But it works on this song.”
And then there was this:
“That was tough to come up with since I’m only on my first coffee.”
Don’t worry friends, Tim redeemed himself and showed me up in the process the following weekend.
I hadn’t yet started writing about “Butterfly on a wheel” when I went I down to Toronto for the Easter weekend holidays. As I normally try to do when I’m in T-dot, I got together with my old friends for some beers, this of course, included Tim. My recollection of the evening is a bit patchy given the time that has elapsed, and the quality and quantity of beers consumed, but I do remember the conversation at one point turning to this post on The Mission. He asked me at one point why I chose “Butterfly” over “Deliverance” and I responded that it was because it was for my Best of 1990 series, not realizing at the time that they were both from the very same album.
(And this is where I have to make confession #2. To this day, I am not sure if I’ve ever listened to one of The Mission’s albums in full, having only their 1994 compilation, “Sum and substance”, in my music library.)
It wasn’t hard for Tim to convince me to change the song to “Deliverance”. I enjoy both but have always preferred the latter. It is a darker and harder-living track than its romantically fey and Victorian-era dressed younger brother. When placed side-by-side, it’s hard to tell that they are by the same band, let alone from the same album (and that’s not me making excuses). On both, Wayne Hussey exercises the bourbon smooth depth of his vocals but on “Deliverance” he is more insistent, matching the driving rhythm and roaring guitars. And according to the vague memory I have of the aforementioned conversation, “Deliverance” builds and builds to a “big YAAA! crescendo”. (I would include the photo I still have on my phone of Tim giving a visual representation of this sentiment but I’m not sure he’d approve.)
I’ve included both songs below for your review. However, I think you’ll agree with Tim (as I did) that “Deliverance” is the slightly better track.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 1990 list, click here.