Tuesday, December 29, 2015

first and last and always

The Sisters of Mercy saw their kingdom come and go with the mechanized misanthropy of this dark obsessive opus.  Andrew Eldritch and Gary Marx started the project in Leeds in 1977 and released the single "The Damage Done" / "Watch" on their own Merciful Release label before expanding the lineup to include bassist Craig Adams, guitarist Ben Gunn, and drum machine Doktor Avalanche.   They put out two extended plays  (Alice  and  The Reptile House E.P.   in 1983)  and another single "Temple of Love" before Gunn left the band to be replaced by Wayne Hussey (who had played guitar with Dead or Alive) for their third EP  Body and Soul  in 1984.  

It was at this point that the band signed with Warner Records for the recording of their full length debut First and Last and Always.  David Allen produced the sessions which started at Strawberry Recording Studios in Stockport (during which time, perfectionist Eldritch didn't leave the studio for the entire five weeks they were there) and then continued at Genetic Studios near Reading.  The release date for the album was delayed after Eldritch collapsed in the studio from a combination of malnutrition, exhaustion, and amphetamine logic.  

Eldritch would express:   "I've got the scars to prove it.  There are various views on what happened to me, but, naturally, mine's the only one that counts.  I thing I just started working too hard and, at th end of last summer, my body said 'No thank you. This has gone far enough. It'll end in tears.'  So I've calmed down a bit although...I enjoy it so much, being strung out for a very long time...I'm told you can't do it for that long ... I don't think the band's particular pleasures are destructive.  It's horses for courses.  At our age, you generally know what's good fo you and what isn't and, most of the time, you stick to what's good for you. None of the songs on the album are about being the victim of one's own pleasures except in the case of getting emotionally involved with people who aren't very good for you."

First and Last and Always features Andrew Eldritch on vocals, sleeve design, and mixing;  Craig Adams on bass guitar;  Wayne Hussey on guitar and vocals;  Gary Marx on guitar;  and  Doktor Avalanche on drums.   The album reached number twenty-three in Sweden and fourteen in the UK.   

Eldritch:   "I think we've conveyed the sense of importance.  It sounds like a very important record.  Even if, when you listen to it, you're not quite sure why...Some people find our sort of noise inherently gloomy.  Maybe they associate it with social decay, I don't know...I think the title track is gloomy, but not the others.  They may not be tremendously optimistic...I find listening to pop records incredibly depressing.  As long as our songs sound intense enough, important enough, then gloom goes out the window.  'Cause gloomy and doomy suggest an air of apathetic resignation, which I don't think we're prone to." 


First and Last and Always
full album:

side A
00:00 - "Black Planet"  Eldritch / Hussey
04:27 - "Walk Away"  Eldritch / Hussey
07:52 - "No time to cry"  Eldritch /  Adams / Hussey / Marx
11:54 - "A Rock and a Hard Place"  Eldritch / Hussey
15:30 - "Marian (version)"  Eldritch / Hussey
side B
21:12 - "First and Last and Always"  Eldritch / Marx
25:14 - "Possession"  Eldritch  / Adams / Hussey
29:54 - "Nine While Nine"  Eldritch / Marx
34:03 - "Amphetamine Logic"  Eldritch / Marx
38:56 - "Some Kind of Stranger"  Eldritch / Marx
46:17 - "Poison Door"  Marx
50:00 - "On the Wire"  Eldritch 
54:22 - "Blood Money"  Eldritch / Hussey
57:34 - "Bury Me Deep"  Eldritch 
01:02:19 - "Long Train"  Eldritch 
01:09:49 - "Some Kind of Stranger"  Marx

01. 00:00  First and Last and Always
02  04:08  Body and Soul
03  07:43  Marian
04  12:45  No Time To Cry
05  16:39  Walk Away
06  20:23  Possession
07  24:53  Emma
08  31:12  Amphetamine Logic
09  35:22  A Rock and  a Hard Place
10  38:57  Floorshow
11  42:49  Alice
12  47:00  Fix
13  49:41  Knocking on Heaven's Door

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