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The Sisters Of Mercy – Some Girls Wander By Mistake

Rhino / Merciful Release

The Sisters Of Mercy - Some Girls Wander By MistakeIt’s a sobering moment when you realise it’s been a full quarter of a century since Andrew Eldritch, The Dark Lord Of Leeds, has gifted the world with any new music. Despite the latest incarnation of the band being as prolific at gigging as any Sisters Of Mercy line-up has ever been, we’ve been given nothing new.

That said, in the eleven years prior to that there was a fair bit of awesomeness, and it’s well worth revisiting. Some Girls Wander By Mistake is a handsomely-presented boxed re-release of the titular compilation, with their last two releases thrown in to make what is, in all honesty, a fairly epic package. Basically, this is everything they ever recorded outside the period of their career when they were, like, making albums and stuff. So we get all the early EPs, and by crikey they’re still awesome for the most part.

Once incredibly hard to come by, now just moderately hard to listen to, their début single “The Damage Done” (and its Gary Marx-delivered B-side-and-a-half) is nonetheless a fascinating look at what Eldritch was always gunning for. Part Stooges, part Velvet Underground, it’s a dark little slice of an alternate history of rock’n’roll.

It’s the other EPs, though, where Eldritch really begins to perfect his vision. The mechanical rhythms of Doktor Avalanche underpin those classic wiry Eastern-tinged riffs while Eldritch deploys his wryly Bowie-esque sarcasm over the top as he begins to build his empire of futurist rock nostalgia (by the time they’d hit Floodland in 1987, Eldritch had become the best rock’n’roll/TS Eliot namedropper we would experience until Lana Del Rey came along) and created a sound which may not SEEM unique now, but was at the time, before a million other bands decided it was probably really easy to do that, and then found out it wasn’t.

Diluted by time and imitation, sure, but put on something like “Alice” and tell me it doesn’t still have the same dark power as it always did. Or the slow-burn of, well, “Burn” or its discmate “Kiss The Carpet” (both from the epic Reptile House EP). And just to show those roots, as all goths do eventually, we get their amazing takes on “Gimme Shelter” (Eldritch always did love to raise the spectre of Altamont) and The Stooges’ “1969”.

And, of course, there’s the classic “Temple Of Love”, which we get here twice — once the extended 1983 recording, and a second time with 1992’s alternate version with the late Ofra Haza filling out the sound with her amazing vocal talent. It’s a testament to the Sisters’ iconic status that debate still rages as to which of the two is better.

The only nod to their album career is the “Canadian Club Mix” of Vision Thing‘s title track, which was the B-side to 1992’s version of “Temple Of Love”. And then we get their last recorded work, “Under The Gun”, their hugely divisive 1993 single with Berlin’s Terri Nunn dueting with Andrew with what starts out all heart-on-sleeve emotional before tumbling headlong into a musical rant somewhat akin to Bowie’s “Candidate”. Personally, I wasn’t blown away at the time, but it quickly grew on me. Which means I’ve loved it for almost a quarter of a century.

Which is worth a sobering moment all of its own.

-Justin Farrington-

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