These Leeds second-wavers (named after a track from 1968’s Songs Of Leonard Cohen) formed in 1980 and became the sour face of Goth four years after their first single, with the release of their debut LP, First and Last and Always.
Peter Murphy (of Bauhaus) asserted that The Sisters Of Mercy were “formed for Goths, by Goths . . . and by God, they were Goth”.
In his crushed velvet frock coats, Andrew “Spiggy” Eldritch brought Napoleonic swagger to such dark anthems as Walk Away and Some Kind Of Stranger. He would also mercilessly flay his audience with versions of Hot Chocolate‘s Emma and Abba‘s Gimme Gimme Gimme A Man After Midnight . . .
The drum machine clatter and chiming guitar was a good fit with Goth’s introspective aesthetic, but their driving ambition gathered around them like a storm.
Floodland (1987), the band’s second album, was where everything came together in a majestic work – unapologetically overblown and imbued with an irresistible charm.
Eldritch claimed he recorded the album himself with bass player Patricia Morrison (formerly of The Gun Club) and a drum machine called Doktor Avalanche which – apart from Eldritch – has been the only consistent ‘member’ since the band began.
Three singles were culled from the album, all of which did well in the charts.
On Vision Thing (1990), Eldritch (whose compadres at the time included Tony James – fresh from sporting a pineapple on his head in Sigue Sigue Sputnik) got seriously into rock and became obsessed with the US and its socio-political evils. This was The Sisters of Mercy at their most commercial – and dull.
Temple Of Love gave them their biggest hit when it was re-released in 1992, with the original pale and skinny sound beefed up by magnificent backing vocalist Ofra Haza.
In December 1993, a series of disputes between the band (ie: Eldritch) and record label Warner Bros saw The Sisters of Mercy change from a successful recording act into a concert-only spectacle. In a nutshell, Eldritch downed tools, announcing he had no intention of making another album until he was released from his existing contract.
Stalemate ensued and the Sisters toured, but that was all. When, after five years, the contract lapsed and they were free to record again, they didn’t. They just carried on gigging.
Andrew “Spiggy” Eldritch
Vocals, keyboards, guitars, drums
Guitar, vocals, bass