Song number seven on my Best tunes of 1990 list marks the third song in a row that was introduced to me, either directly or indirectly, by my good friend Tim. At number nine, we had New Model Army’s “Purity”, “De-Luxe” by Lush at number eight, and now, “More” by The Sisters of Mercy. At first glance, these might seem quite varied musically but the common variable or thread stringing these three songs together is an inherent darkness or romantic notion.
You see, Tim was something of a goth back in our high school days. Not in the classic or even stereotypical sense. No leather or PVC or makeup, though he did wear a lot of dark clothing and his tastes definitely tended to the industrial and goth sub genres of alternative music. Of course, if you asked Tim, he would never say he was a goth. But then again, neither would many of the biggest names of the genre self-identify with the title. Indeed, most, The Sisters of Mercy included, detested the term. It’s like the genre that never was. Until now of course, with these third and fourth wave bands who idolized the original post-punk bands that were into the dark and romantic.
The Sisters of Mercy moniker really represents the musical vehicle for Andrew Eldritch and his drum machine du jour, Doktor Avalanche. He originally formed the outfit with Gary Marx in 1980, taking their name from the early Leonard Cohen song. However, the group has been a revolving door of musicians, that have in the past included Wayne Hussey (The Mission), Patricia Morrison (The Gun Club), and Tony James (Sigue Sigue Sputnik), but the lineup has never been the same on any of their three long players. Only three, you wonder? That’s not very much for a band that has existed for 37 years, its true. The initial reason for this was a dispute with their record label in the early nineties but they still didn’t record anything new after Warner let them out of their contract in 1997, though they’ve toured regularly over the years, often showcasing new material.
“More” was the first single to be released off “Vision thing”, the band’s final album to date. The album version is epic at eight minutes or so. Driving guitars and a threatening piano/keyboard backbone that sounds at times like a looney tunes mad scientist playing the harpsichord surrounded by bats and at others, like a melodramatic melody from a Meatloaf track*. And I’m not even joking. It’s damn serious. Especially when you throw in Andrew Eldritch’s distinctive, growling bass-baritone vocals. It’s a real rocker that screams dry ice and lasers and the blackest of sunglasses.
I have a lot of fond memories of blasting this while night driving down country roads just outside my hometown with the windows wide open. But I also have one vivid one of dancing to the tune at my high school auditorium, during a CFNY video dance party (anyone remember those?), and being one of only 3 or 4 on floor, another being my friend Tim. So this one’s for him.
*I read a piece on the Sisters just this week by Brett Chittenden on Alan Cross’s website that talked about how Jim Steinman (producer of albums by Bonnie Tyler and Meatloaf) had a hand in writing and producing some of Sisters of Mercy’s best work (including “More”) and now I can’t unhear the similarities.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 1990 list, click here.