The Sisters Of Mercy, Lucretia My Reflection (1988)

SistersFloodland

Artist: The Sisters Of Mercy
Title: Lucretia My Reflection
Description: single; album track, Floodland
Label: Merciful Release, Elektra
Release date: 1988
First heard: 1988

Hot metal and methedrine …

Having thoroughly enjoyed the lavishly tortured imperial grandeur of Showtime’s The Borgias via Sky Atlantic over three seasons, I am now hearing the name in the title of this pounding song as “Lucrezia” (with an Italianate “zz”). According to extensive research on Wikipedia, I have gathered that Andrew Eldritch wrote the song for his then-new collaborator Patricia Morrison in tribute to her similarities to Pope Alexander VI’s scheming daughter. He just spelled it wrong. Who cares? Lucretia is immortalised, and sits between Marian and Alice in Sisters Of Mercy lady-worship. (And Morrison didn’t play on Floodland. Again, who cares?)

Lavishly tortured imperial grandeur is the guiding light of the second incarnation of the Sisters after all that legal argy-bargy over the name, which Eldritch won, and although he clearly resents the idea that a more mainstream rock audience “discovered” the band via the expensive studio metalwork of Jim Steinman on This Corrosion (he didn’t work on Lucretia), it provided quite a spectacle, with a band, or brand, so rooted in the underground emerging via MTV onto the freeway and blinking in the light. I had fallen in love with the first incarnation during my provincial Goth phase in 1983, enchanted by those rattly early singles Anaconda and Temple Of Love. I saw the Sisters live at London’s Lyceum in the mid-decade and felt it a religious experience. (And when I say I saw them, I peered into a wall of dry ice for an hour and occasionally caught a glimpse of a human figure.)

By the time Floodland came out in 1988, I was old enough to have a) embraced all musical forms, including jazz, blues and Bob Dylan, although not yet opera*, and b) stowed any punk-rock snobbery about “selling out”. Thus, I applauded the Sisters Of Mercy’s brazen bridgehead into crossover. I remember seeing the darkly operatic** video for This Corrosion on ITV’s The Chart Show, with its inclement weather and Fester-and-Morticia double act. The album followed through, with a form of rock not really yet stamped by the latecoming American consensus as “industrial”, and no holds barred. The Wagnerian pomp that had driven the first album was turned up to eleven. This was big music. Unabashed. Sincere or ironic? Who can ever really know? I met Eldritch once, on 6 Music, and he unironically requested that the studio webcam be switched off as he wasn’t dressed in character; however, he struck me as a very wry and self-aware chap, so, again, who can ever really know?

I know in my bones that Lucretia, in its full eight-and-a-half minute flight, is a track to drive a tank to. It consolidates all the dreams and fantasies I entertained during my Goth years of death and horror and sex and power. I don’t really have those dreams and fantasies any more, but this songs still sounds magnificent. Eldritch gurgles, “I hear the roar of the big machine.” Yeah, mate, you’re making it. It’s your machine.

*I still haven’t embraced opera, unless you count Tommy.
**I know what “operatic” sounds like.

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “The Sisters Of Mercy, Lucretia My Reflection (1988)

  1. I’ve recently extracted my turntable from the loft, and I’ve been delighting in rediscovering my vinyl collection – as well as discovering a bunch of stuff I didn’t know I had. This item has catalysed the 12″ of This Corrosion to bellow bombastically behind me as I type, and got me wishing I had Vision Thing on vinyl

    Like

  2. I resisted this line up of the Sisters for quite a while, “FALAA” was a stunning record and still an all-time fave but I “sided” with Hussey and The Mission and as silly as it seems now their gigs were some of the best nights of my late teen years. Eventually “Foodland” turned out to be just as irresistible, maybe too overblown at times, sure, but “Lucretia” gets it just right. God, I wished I’d got to see them back in ’85…

    Like

  3. When you’re only going for one song per artist in your 143, I would think that picking a Sisters track must have been one of the really hard choices. First & Last doesn’t really have a duff track on it and contains the mighty Marian; Alice / Temple / Anaconda etc are brilliant singles tracks; the cover versions (Emma / Gimme Shelter etc) are awesome; even something like Ribbons from Vision Thing has its place too.
    I can’t really argue with picking Lucretia out from Floodland though. As a late 80s provincial goth it pulled me back from being totally Mission-centric to appreciating both sides of the divide.

    Like

Hey! Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s