Published on October 22nd, 2017 | by Brent Chittenden3
52 Albums That Changed My Life (and Other Exaggerations), Chapter 43: Sisters of Mercy
I love The Sisters of Mercy. I’m guessing that the audience is a bit split down the middle between those who remember them and those who have no idea who I’m talking about. The Sisters of Mercy were a group that was really active in the 80’s and the 90’s and while they still exist now, record company issues and lord knows what else have caused the band not to release any new albums since the early 1990’s. They were a band that the goth kids liked but seemed a lot flashier than their contemporaries.
I was first introduced to the band through CFNY, aka “The Edge”’s club night at The Kingdom that went live to air. Those live to air’s were great in the 90’s as they would play a nice combination of new alternative hits and some older material that you may not have heard before. I remember this song coming on that was kind of rocking but had this weird female haunting voice surrounding it. The song had a drive and a beat to it that kicked but also made you understand why it was being played in a club. It was the 1992 version of “Temple of Love” which featured guest vocals by Ofra Haza, we’ll get back to this in a moment.
This lead me to hunt down the compilation A Slight Case Of Overbombing. As I’ve stated a few previous times, one of the weird things, as a North American consumer, of buying certain English based bands was there were almost as many singles compilations and greatest hits collections as there were actual albums. Sometimes songs were songs were from singles only and not available on an actual album so the singles collections were your only resort. This also meant you would end up with several versions of the same songs or even the exact same version on different discs but that was how it went sometimes.
I love A Slight Case of Overbombing. It contains the most bang for your buck and it really represents the sound of the band to me. Some will argue that the truer sound of the band is their album, First and Last and Always, is as it is a very gothy sounding album but quite frankly, that’s one album, a good one but their other albums have a slightly different sound to it. Much less gothy and much more a weird mutation of rock and roll. They had a grandiose sound to them that was very rock based but they weren’t afraid to do modern things with it. This is probably a very bad comparison but the best I can say to make sense of it is if The Rolling Stones had formed in the mid-1980s, they would have sounded similar to The Sisters of Mercy. There was a bit of grime and dirt to the Sisters rock and glam.
The Sisters were also very willing to experiment. Their drummer for most of the band’s career has been a drum and or sampling machine named Doktor Avalanche. It started off as a BOSS DR-55 machine but is apparently now a MacBook Pro using Steinberg Cubase. For a little extra umph to the remix of “Temple of Love,” the band brought in Ofra Haza, an Israeli singer of huge popularity to add to it and it works perfectly. The band would work with producer Jim Steinman on a number of tracks over the years.
Yes, the songwriter/producer behind Bat Out of Hell.
The collaboration with Steinman produced some of their best songs but that really stand out. The still sound like The Sisters but at the same time there is no denying that Steinman’s magic is in there too to the point where it kind of amazes me that Meat Loaf has never done any covers of it.
A Slight Case of Overbombing opens with “Under the Gun,” A song that should have been used in a gratuitous love scene from some late 80s early 90s action movie starring Christopher Lambert (side note, if you ever see any of those movies, he does this upsweep boob grab in every one. Once you see it, you’ll never unsee it). Things speed up a little with the aforementioned Temple of Love remix (as of this writing, that version doesn’t seem to be on all current digital versions of the compilation). There is just something otherworldly about Haza’s voice added to the track. We start going at a breakneck speed with “Vision Thing”, a song that I always feel is a little under appreciated. Two songs later we have the first of the Steinman collaborations on this collection with “More.” Steinman both co-wrote and produced “More” and it’s clear when you hear it. The best track on the entire disc is “This Corrosion,” another Steinman produced track but it completely incapacitates what I loved about Sisters of Mercy. The sheer grandeur of the sound of the song. The lyrics are a bit of nonsense (apparently they were a dig at a former band member’s writing style) but who cares when you sound like this. There’s a reason why it was used in a big reveal scene in Edgar Wright’s World’s End.
I love The Sisters of Mercy but I feel they’ve been forgotten. Hopefully, one of you out there who have never heard them before will give them a shot.