1984 to 1985: First and Last and Always, but not for good
Report by Frank Spieker (Read the complete Sister(s) of Mercy report)
Line up 1984 – 1985:
Andrew Eldritch (vocals)
Gary Marx (guitars)
Wayne Hussey (guitars)
Craig Adams (bass)
Dr. Avalanche (drums)
Live cover versions:
Knocking on Heaven`s Door (Bob Dylan)
Hey Joe (Jimi Hendrix)
Purple Haze (Jimi Hendrix)
Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin)
US tour 1984
Trans Europe Excess
2nd US tour 1984
Tune in Turn on Burn out – Armageddon
After Ben Gunn had left the band, the band was joined by a guitar player who was received critically by fans at first: Wayne Hussey (Jerry Lovelock). Why was he received critically? Because he had previously played in a band called “Dead or Alive”. Yes, that’s right. The ones with “You spin me round”.
And no, Wayne Hussey was not a founding member of the Sisters. In fact, of all the guitar players he is the one who stayed with the Sisters for the shortest period of time. But let’s continue. In June 1984, the band released its first single after signing its record deal. “Body & Soul“ (B-side: “Train/Body Electric/Afterhours“) was a lot more pop and sounded a lot brighter, which might be due to a more professional recording environment.
The only song that stands out from this creative phase is “Afterhours”, which is still used as an intro at concerts, and features a dark booming bass and Eldritch‘s sepulchral voice. The year ended with the release of “Walk Away” in October 1984 (B-side: “Poison Door/On The Wire“), a song in which Eldritch deals with Gunn leaving, and which crashes down on the listener with an incomparable guitar intro:
“If you would name the things
That bring you down on me so I could say it’s
Not quite true if you don’t really
Know or understand the circumstance
Behind then I might clear your
Mind and you won’t have to go so…”
Looking back, “Walk away” could also be regarded as a look into the future. Two songs on the single’s B-side, “Poison Door” and “On the Wire”, are far better than most A-sides by so-called goth bands. In February 1985 the single “No time to cry“ (B-side: „Blood Money/Bury me Deep“) was released as a prelude to the first album. Whereas “No time to cry” was rather commercial, the B-sides of this single were more convincing. “Blood money” and “Bury me deep” did not make it onto the album, but they are now considered classics by every Sisters fan.
Finally, in March 1985, the Sisters‘ first studio album appeared, entitled “First And Last and Always”. Sophisticated guitar lines, ingenious compositions, Eldritch‘s sepulchral voice and a minimum of synthesizers characterise the album. Thematically the songs deal with breakups, the nuclear holocaust, fear of loss, loneliness and abandonment. Basically everything you need for a good party. The compositions of the A-side were dominated by Hussey, the songs of the B-side by Marx.
For those unfamiliar with vinyl: the album is dominated by Hussey from “Black Planet” to “Marian”, and by Marx from “First and Last and Always” to “Some Kind of Stranger”. Gary Marx left the Sisters during the album tour and founded Ghost Dance because of personal differences with Mr Eldritch about the future of the Sisters. The three remaining members continued the tour, finished it with the legendary gig at the Royal Albert Hall and began working on the new album entitled “Left on Mission and Revenge”. But disagreements soon arose. Apparently, Andrew wanted to use more synthesizers while Hussey and Adams wanted to become more commercially acceptable, more rock. Anyway, this lead to a breakup on friendly terms at this time, and that was the end of the Sisters. For the time being. Raise the curtain for the Sisterhood.