17 September 2007
Rock epic of the month: "Temple of Love (1992)" (The Sisters of Mercy) 1992
Rock epics of the month is a series of posts where I'll look back on classic examples of what I think is the greatest excess of rock and roll - the rock epic.
This month, I'm looking at one by arguably the silliest of all goth rock bands, The Sisters of Mercy. It clocks in at a fraction over 8 minutes long.
There appear to be three types of Sisters fans. Some think that the line-up of Andrew Eldritch, Gary Marx, Wayne Hussey, Craig Adams and Doktor Avalanche who put together the First and Last and Always long player were the classic line-up.
Others think that the Wagnerian, harpsichord-laden and Jim Steinman (Meat Loaf) produced Floodland is the greatest Sisters album ever - with the line-up of Eldritch, Patricia Morrison and Avalanche.
Lastly, there are some who think that the totally rock Vision Thing era line-up of Eldritch, Andreas Bruhn, Tim Bricheno, Tony James and Avalanche was where the Sisters really shone. James' involvement was particularly apt, given that the Sisters' mix of rock and technology owed large chunks to Sigue Sigue Sputnik's work in the early eighties.
Then there's me who dug pretty much all the Sisters' work.
It's interesting to note that apart from Eldritch and Avalanche, the Sisters' line-up changed for each album. And Avalanche itself was actually a number of different drum machines, leaving Eldritch (born Andrew William Harvey Taylor) as the sole Sister throughout.
This song probably falls into the Vision Thing era. It happens to be a cover of an early single credited to the line-up of Eldritch, Adams, Marx, Avalanche and guitarist Ben Gunn, but when the Sisters released the compilation Some Girls Wander by Mistake in 1992, Eldritch decided that he'd re-record it with the late Israeli songstress Ofra Haza on backing vocals.
Much of what the Sisters recorded was epic material - hell, the Floodland album would be lucky to get a single song under the magical 6 minute mark - but anyway this, just like the original, was a hugely long song.
It opens with huge rifferama and just keeps going. In the middle, there is a breakdown just to Avalanche playing what could almost be a drum machine solo, possibly showing Eldritch's then fascination with hip-hop. Haza is reduced to the odd "Temple of Looooooooove" and "ooh" all the way through, but this seems to imbue the tune with the otherworldliness that Eldritch liked.
The choruses were extremely well done, with Eldritch spitting out the vocals as the guitars went up a notch and a synth part replicated screaming stabs. When goth rock is played correctly, it is meant to rock out in this fashion.
These days, "Temple of Love (1992)" is only available on The Sisters of Mercy's best of titled A Slight Case of Overbombing. Not sure what Eldritch is doing these days, but by all accounts, he's as mad as a hatter.
I've selected a video that is particularly inappropriate for a goth rock epic - it pays tribute to legendary skater Rodney Mullen, who is credited as being the inventor of (on flat ground, anyway) the Ollie. Enjoy.