Saturday, April 24, 2010

Flashback: The Sisterhood - Gift

Anyone with pretences to being a "Goth" in the 1980s would most likely also have been a fan of, in any case would definitely have been very familiar with The Sisters Of Mercy. The band that is, of course; not the Roman Catholic order of nuns. 

Comprised mainly of Andrew Eldritch, Wayne Hussey and Craig Adams there was what may or may not have been, depending on whom you believe, a very acrimonious split of the band around 1985 with Hussey and Adams departing to form their own act and Eldritch left behind.

Hussey and Adams re-formed and started playing as The Sisterhood, a name on which Eldritch was not too keen, claiming it was too close in morphology to The Sisters Of Mercy. In any case, rather than fighting about it for an extended period, Eldritch quickly recorded and released this album under the same name "The Sisterhood", thereby effectively beating Hussey and Adams to the legal rights to play under that name. 

Once again, depending on whom you believe, Eldritch by doing so with this release also won a race against Hussey/Adams run by their record company WEA, the winner of which would be the first Sisters member to release any new material after the split. The prize was 25,000 pounds Sterling as a recording advance. It is alleged that the recitation of the numbers "two-five-zero-zero-zero" on the first track "Jihad" refer to this amount and there may well be truth in what has become something of a Goth legend.

This also tied Eldritch to WEA as The Sisters Of Mercy (a fact which he apparently regretted later, and possibly led to the demise of the band - bad relations with the company that is), and he went on to release two more studio albums as The Sisters Of Mercy, the first Floodland (1987) was made with Patricia Morrison as the only other band member, while the second Vision Thing (1990), which was also the last studio album was made with a full band and drew much more heavily upon hard rock than anything Goth. Some time after that the band just kind of disappeared as far as putting out new material is concerned, with Eldritch claiming, interestingly, that releasing albums in a rock band was not all there was to life. Notwithstanding, the Sisters have been and are still around, playing live shows.

Eldritch, seemingly like just about any other successful band labelled "Goth" (eg The Cure, Siouxie & The Banshees, The Damned etc.), has always abhorred that label (unsurprisingly) and insisted that TSOM was just a rock band, although listening to Floodland again (even just looking at the cover), I think people could be excused for applying the label. 

As for Gift, Eldritch himself apparently never thought much of it, being as it was quickly recorded as a stunt mainly to stop Hussey and Adams getting the rights to the name "The Sisterhood". However, the album features Alan Vega, of the legendary proto-punk band Suicide on keyboards and vox and Lucas Fox, drummer in the just as legendary metal band Motörhead on drums and vox as well as Patricia Morrison on bass and vox and James Ray on guitar and vox.

Ironically it somehow became something of a sought-after rare "classic" on the electronica scene (maybe in part due to Vega's input - though that is just me speculating), as its synth bass and drum machines seemed in retrospect to be eerily prescient of the German techno scene that would emerge out of the house/acid house music revolution a few years later. 

In any case, the album achieved its goal: Hussey & Adams of course re-formed as The Mission and certain sources claim that the whole "Gift" episode was actually just an elaborate publicity stunt to kickstart the Hussey & Adams career as The Mission.

In any case Gift by The Sisterhood has long been deleted and hard to find. But it's generally available on YouTube. This is my favourite track off it, Rain From Heaven:

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