Sunday, July 29, 2018

Classic Album Review: Sisters of Mercy - First and Last and Always (1985)

By 1985, and the rather belated release of the Sisters of Mercy debut album, First And Last And Always, the band had already established its reputation, alongside the equally influential likes of Bauhaus and the Jesus And Mary Chain, as forefathers of the still fairly embryonic goth-rock genre. 
The Sisters were already a fixture on the UK independent charts thanks to a series of highly regarded landmark singles and EPs - Alice (1983), The Reptile House (1983), Body and Soul (1984) - and had impressed as a darker, harder, black-leather-clad alternative to the leading bands of the (by then) mass-marketed punk and “new wave” scenes. 
After making fans wait a couple of years for a full-length album, it’s probably fair to say that First And Last And Always was a highly anticipated release. And those early EP releases have all gone on to become highly sought after by vinyl collectors and fans alike.
The Sisters of Mercy would release just three (studio/non-compilation) albums; the bigger budget follow-up, Floodland (1987), is another classic of its type, with, for better or for worse, far more emphasis on production values, while Vision Thing (1990) found the band losing its way a little, with main man Andrew Eldritch seemingly content to set the band’s default option to: “bloated metallic parody of former self”. As poorly received as it was however, even Vision Thing contained the odd gem. 
First And Last And Always then, pretty much represents the Sisters Of Mercy in their purest, most unaffected form, and it’s the only Sisters album to feature key original, Wayne Hussey, who would later go on to front The Mission. This is where it all started, and that's probably all that needs to be said. 
Highlights: opener ‘Black Planet’, the epic closer, ‘Some Kind Of Stranger’, plus ‘Walk Away’, ‘No Time To Cry’, ‘Marian’, and ‘Possession’.

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