“Music suitable for slaughterhouses and asylums” is how Andrew Eldritch described the first years of the Sisters in an interview with German television.
Founded 1980 by Gary Marx (Gary Mark) and Andrew Eldritch (Andrew Taylor) with the intention of recording an album to hear themselves on the radio. This goal was quickly achieved with the single “Damage Done” (B-side: “Watch/Home Of The Hitmen“). The label “Merciful Release” was founded and the single was sent to local radio stations. We still don’t know who sings this single. The fact is that Gary Marx played the guitar and Andrew was on drums. (Read the full Sisters article)
The Sisters of Mercy @ London, Brixton Ace, 29.06.1983
00:00 KISS THE CARPET
23:20 GIMME SHELTER
4/3 Version (Original)
34:25 KISS THE CARPET
57:45 GIMME SHELTER
1980 to 1983: Music for slaughterhouses and asylums
Line up 1980:
Andrew Eldritch (vocals & drums)
Gary Marx (guitars)
Line up 1981 – 1983:
Andrew Eldritch (vocals)
Gary Marx (guitars)
Ben Gunn (guitars)
Craig Adams (bass)
Dr. Avalanche (drums)
Live cover versions:
Sister Ray (Velvet Underground)
1969 (The Stooges)
Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (ABBA)
Emma (Hot Chocolate)
Gimme Shelter (Rolling Stones)
Louie, Louie (The Kingsmen)
Jolene (Dolly Parton)
Medley:Teachers/Adrenochrome (Leonard Cohen/The Sisters of Mercy
Spring Tour 1983
Trans Europe Excess
Seems like the guys enjoyed making music. But they also realized that Andrew sang a lot better than he played the drums, so they decided to let Andrew sing and buy a small drum computer. The band without a drummer was born. This cute little helper was baptized Dr. Avalanche, and at their first gig on 16 February 1981 the Sisters were joined by Ben Gunn (Benjamin Matthews) on second guitar and Jon Langford on bass. Who was soon to be replaced by Craig Adams. Recordings of the first concerts available as bootlegs clearly show how much the Sisters sounded like slaughterhouse and asylum.
Noise and screaming characterized the first concerts. But they also had ideas for new songs. The next single was “Body Electric/Adrenochrome“ (April 1982, not released on Merciful Release for financial reasons), which made the Sisters known nationwide and led to a growing number of followers.
This development was consolidated by the next singles, “Alice/Floorshow“ (Nov. 1982) and “Anaconda/Phantom“ (March 1983). “Body Electric“, “Alice“ and “Anaconda“ have become classics and are still heard regularly today. Altogether they can be seen as typical for the Sisters’ early creative development. Driving bass lines, noisy guitar hooklines cutting into the head, and a monotonously and mercilessly stomping Dr. Avalanche.
In May 1983 the first masterpiece followed: The “Reptile House E.P.” How to describe songs like “Kiss”, “Lights”, “Valentine”, “Fix” and “Burn” with all their humour, their depression, their darkness and their mood? Maybe by placing them in the historical context of the Falklands war? As a dark, cynical counterpart to “I am sailing” by Rod Stewart?
”Love for the party, love for the nation
And love for the fix, for the fabrication
And love for the corpse, for the corporation
Love for the death and for the defecation
Romance and assassination
Give me the love for the genocide
Give me love”