The Sisterhood, a project thus named to prevent Wayne Hussey’s use following the intial demise of The Sisters of Mercy, is finally seeing a reissue on CD, cassette and vinyl, after 25 years of being out of print.
This is the first time the Merciful release is to be issued digitally as well.
This project is strange in so many ways – mainly because it was never meant to exist. The history of the project goes back to the end of The Sisters of Mercy Mk. II, after Andrew Eldritch, Wayne Hussey and Craig Adams broke up the band after touring to promote First and Last and Always.
Gary Marx left earlier to form Ghost Dance, famously not showing up to perform the final concert dubbed “Wake” on his birthday.
Following the concert at Royal Albert Hall, Craig Adams and Wayne Hussey went on to form a new band, called The Sisterhood. After an “amicable” break up, with Andrew, Wayne and Craig arguing about the musical direction the band was supposed to take, with the promise that no party involved should use the name The Sisters of Mercy again, this was deemed as unacceptable for Andrew Eldritch, who saw this as a broken gentleman’s agreement, who became furious about that matter.
“There was nothing I could do but be the Sisterhood before them — the only way to kill that name was to use it, then kill it,” Eldritch told the NME.
Thus he took Eldritch took the name The Sisterhood for himself and announced single through his own Merciful Release label:“Giving Ground”.
This was controversially, on the date Wayne Hussey and Craig Adams, joined by Mick Brown (Ex-Red Lorry Yellow Lorry) and Simon Hinkler (Ex-Artery) were supposed to play their first show as The Sisterhood in London.
RCA, the record label and publisher of the music of The Sisters of Mercy, and the band that would eventually become The Mission were also signed to, profited from the feud a lot.
Offering both Wayne Hussey and Andrew Eldritch an amount of 25.000£, whoever came out with an effort under that name first, should get the name (a specific thing about name rights in the UK), and Andrew Eldritch accepted the challenge.
Teaming up with Lucas Fox, Patricia Morrison – who eventually joined The Sisters of Mercy for the recording process of Floodland-, James Ray and his long-term collaborator Doktor Avalanche and Suicide‘s Alan Vega (whose contribution seems to be limited to the choir that can be heard on Rain From Heaven), Andrew Eldritch started writing a song very quickly – within five days, he and Lucas Fox produced the single “Giving Ground”, a single that, surprisingly hit No 1 in the UK Independent Charts, surely profiting from the bands between the two bands.
Due to legal conditions, Andrew Eldritch could not sing on the album which would have forced him to offer the album to RCA first, so James Ray, whose band James Ray and the Performance he produced at that time, took vocal duties, while Lucas Fox contributed the spoken word part on “Rain From Heaven” (and, according to James Ray, took the role of another yes-man in the studio) and Patricia Morrison uttered the infamous 2 – 5 – 0 – 0 – 0 vocal bit on Jihad – a track that was meant to be an attack towards Wayne Hussey and RCA, who eventually cancelled the contract with Andrew Eldritch, keeping The Mission on their roster.
The album Gift that followed shortly after the release of Giving Ground consisted the following tracks: “Jihad”, “Colours”, “Giving Ground”, Finland Red Egypt White” and “Rain From Heaven”.
“Giving Ground” was expanded to a 7 minute long track, scrapping some of the lyrics (James Ray’s explanation is “Because they were crap”), differing from the RSV and AV version of the track that were featured on the single – the first one being the four minute version that is linked above, the AV version is an instrumental (RSV and AV refer to two different versions of the bible). Jihad arguably displays the direction Andrew Eldritch wanted The Sisters of Mercy to take, the lyrics of “Finland Red Egypt White” are taken from the manual of the AK-47 machine gun.
“Rain From Heaven” is an epic track that, alongside Giving Ground, appeared on various setlists of The Sisters of Mercy’s current incarnation with Ben Christo and Chris Catalyst lately, and “Colours” was included as a bonus track on Floodland, sung by Andrew Eldritch.
Thus, despite being largely unknown, The Sisterhood is clearly an act that is worth being checked out for so many reasons. Historically, because it is basically the reason why there is a certain animosity between The Sisters of Mercy and The Mission. Musically, because it pioneered Floodland – “This Corrosion”, one of the best known TSOM songs, was supposed to follow the release of Gift, but Andrew Eldritch eventually went back to call his band The Sisters of Mercy and released Floodland.
Looking back on The Sisterhood, Eldritch stated:
“The Sisterhood album was a weapon in this corporate war. That’s why I called it Gift. [in German: poison] But I still like the record. It’s weird but it’s fine. […] I see it as a techno record. Or what I thought to be techno at the time.”
London-based Cadiz Music has announced the reissue of Gift is “coming soon” and is being produced in conjunction with Eldritch’s Merciful Release label, which first issued The Sisterhood’s album Gift in 1986.
The album is being remastered from the original tapes, released in a limited-edition colored vinyl LP signed by Eldritch as well as a limited-edition digipack CD, cassette and digital download.