Thursday, 19 February 2015

Record Collector

The Sisters popularity grew exponentially between 1983 and 1987, perversely becoming more hip during the periods of hiatus (after Ben Gunn's departure, then again after the post-RAH split), and fans' desire to feed their growing addiction to TSOM product spawned a huge interest in their back catalogue, and even more so for recordings of gigs, circulated amongst the fanbase on a swap basis or sold in dingy markets by traders with a eye for a quick profit. From around 1985 there seemed to be a new phenomenon with bootleg LPs appearing at an alarming rate, mainly from Europe, and although the sleeve design and production values were of variable quality to say the least, these too became hot items at the Record Fairs held in most British towns and cities at that time on a monthly basis, where traders and collectors could meet without the need for excessive postal charges and differing opinions as to what exactly consitutes "near mint" status.
It was typical of the London based media though that the monthly bible for vinyl fans, Record Collector magazine, didn't feature The Girls until November 1987 when This Corrosion had made the top ten, when lesser acts such as The Mission and The Long Ryders had already been featured. Contributor Paul Denman did a decent job of providing a detailed background history of the band whilst discussing the various Merciful Releases in chronological order. As was the custom with RC, the article was followed by a full discography with contemporary "current values", including a mere £60 for Damage Done, which would have been a good investment, although interestingly some other rarer items (Walk Away + flexi, Reptile House + insert) have scarcely gone up in value since then. 
Despite the digital revolution, Record Collector magazine is still going strong nearly thirty years later, and Back Issues including the Nov 1987 copy are still available from their website .

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

The price of fame ...

Having decided to go all out for commercial success after the 1985 split, victory in the name battle with those who would become The Mission turned bitter sweet as the latter began to enjoy UK chart success with a sound, image and fanbase that relied heavily on their TSOM past. When Eldritch finally unleashed the latest version of his own project, with photogenic Patricia Morrison as his sidekick and the legendary Jim Steinman at the production desk, it was no contest, although Von soon found that he had less control over his image and public persona than he had had previously, an issue that remains close to his heart even today. Miming on obscure European TV chart shows, interviews with daily papers and magazines who had hitherto ignored the band, all deemed necessary for the greater good.

The ultimate ignominy was probably this sticker from the 1988 Smash Hits sticker collection produced by Italian sticker giants Panini, which apart from being obsessed with unnecessary "quotation marks", contains a ridiculous number of mistakes (the omission of the definite article in the band's name, both Eldritch's and Hussey's surnames incorrectly rendered, Craig Adams being described as a "guitar twirler") and includes the frankly libellous accusation that Von went "mad in Germany," not a wise move when describing a notoriously litigious rock star. Having said that, this era of TSOM keeps the latest incarnation of Spiggy in cat food to this day (supplemeneted by the odd European festival appearance), so Eldritch definitely had the last (and deepest) laugh.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Fanboy alert

These days, the superfan has many ways of getting involved in promoting their beloved band to anyone who'll listen. Joining "street teams", setting up YouTube channels or (as in my case) creating a blog, there are many ways to help others to share the joy and reach a worldwide audience in a matter of seconds.
Back in the early 80s, when the Sisters were the hip and happening band but no-one south of Sheffield seemed to have noticed, the desperate uber-fan could merely plague the various media outlets who might listen. Being (then as now) funded by the UK taxpayer, the BBC kind of had a duty to listen to its audience, which sad and deluded fanboys like myself took advantage of, sending letter after letter to the DJs most likely to be interested in my inarticulate ramblings. A recent rummage through my (ahem) "archive" unearthed this letter from October 1983, referring to one of my many missives which had apparently been broadcast during the short-lived "Write Now" slot, a sort of Points of View for Radio One listeners. As this would have been the month that Temple of Love was released, I was probably suggesting (as I often did) that Top of the Pops and/or The Top Forty should also showcase the number one single in the Indie Charts, on the grounds that many of the most creative and successful British artists of that time (eg Adam and The Ants, The Human League) had started out there, and that this would help financially struggling but talented young bands to reach their audience sooner, with the Beeb able to take some of the credit. Or something like that. I don't think I actually heard the show in question, so it could have been the suggestion that Eldritch's head should replace the Queen's on UK stamps in order to get "the young folk of today" interested in the noble art of philately, or something equally subversive. Looking back, I think I just had too much time on my hands, and as I believe that this post is the fortieth on this blog, some would argue that I probably still do !

Monday, 16 February 2015

Fro my collection 3

Like the thousands who regret not keeping their old toy cars or Star Wars memorabilia in mint, boxed condition, there must be many old goths who regret recycling the ephemera of their gig-going days down the years. The early Sisters gigs I attended were either pay on the door or had the kind of ticket which you had to surrender on the way in, so I have precious little evidence in any case of some of the gigs I attended. Occasionally though, an attractive looking poster left pinned up to advertise a gig could be easily liberated once it had served its original purpose, and enjoy a second life papering over the cracks (literally) of a Leeds student bedsit.
The A4 example pictured above is one of the few remaining items I have of that time, although sadly it is from the early Hussey period, post classic line-up. Recently discovered lurking inside the pages of an old edition of Record Collector magazine featuring TSOM where it had been obviously placed for safe keeping during a long forgotten house move a quarter of a century ago, it is a reminder of more innocent days when Student Ents Committees would advertise forthcoming shows using little more than a letter transfer set, some flourescent paper and a photocopier. And those who have recently paid fifty euros to see (or rather, not see) the band will also have fond memories of the days when you could peer through the dry ice for under three quid, less than the cost of two bottles of Blue Nun. Incidentally, the Sisters returned to the region of Von's birth (East Anglia) later that year (1984) on the Black October tour, but left it a further twenty-two years before paying a third visit to the UEA LCR, when advance tickets cost ... twenty pounds.