Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Rock City

Along with the Colmbiahalle in Berlin and Leeds Uni, Nottingham Rock City is one of the legendary venues synonymous with the Sisters, having received no fewer than six visits from the Girls over the years, three in the lengthy UK treks in 84/85 thanks to the WEA advance as they built up a devoted fanbase, and three at the turn of the millenium as touring became the band's main focus. The club has topped the polls as best venue in the likes of the NME and Kerrang! over the years, no mean feat for a provincial concert hall. Rock City first opened its doors to a music starved Nottingham public (the East Midlands town having had no suitable venue for several years since the Sandpiper closed down shortly after the Sex Pistols' visit) in December 1980, with Edwyn Collins' Orange juice the first band on stage in support to Pell favourites The Undertones on their "See No More" tour in front of a capacity 1400 crowd. That accolade would have fallen to Di'Anno era Iron Maiden had Rock City not failed its' fire certificate test earlier in the month, with gigs by Human League and Magazine also cancelled as a result. An all-standing venue with a wide stage, three bars and a balcony, as well as a smaller club-wihin-a-club downstairs, Rock City soon became a favourite with bands and fans alike, and it was inevitable that The Sisters would end up there. Indeed, they were billed to play there in early October '83 as part of a tour to support the release of Temple Of Love, but with internal problems becoming more apparent, the shows were pulled and the club had to wait another seven months before a more confident and professional band took to the famous stage for the first time. A stage probably overdue another visit ...

Friday, 2 March 2012

Some Girls Wander ?

By the time the Sisters releases up to and including Temple of Love finally saw the light of day as a CD release in 1992, Eldritch had become embarrassed about the band's "baby photos", and was keen to point out that they were largely being released to help to fulfil the terms of the band's contract with WEA, along with later compilation Overbombing, as well as to prevent fans from having to pay ridiculous sums to obtain the rarer early 45s. Although the sound production and studio techniques had clearly evolved since the early days, particularly on Floodland and Vision Thing, the earlier releases had advantages which those which were to follow would struggle to match : none of the later albums have the energy and swagger of the Merciful Releases, and as the Doktor became more complex and more subtle, so one of the attractions of the band - the clinical, pulsating drum-machine-n-bass rhythm section - melted from view. The early Merciful Releases stand up as songs, but also as objets d'art, with the iconic sleeve designs which eschewed the trend at the time for band photos (usually black and white against a graffittied wall or in a disused factory), band member listings and other fan-friendly information. Compare the Some Girls .. original singles and EPs against their contemporaries - Bauhaus, X Mal, the Batcave crew et al - and both sonically and artistically (as artefacts), they stand out as design and musical classics. Although Eldritch still claims to be unenamoured of the early singles, the fact that three singles were subsequently re-recorded for WEA release and that even the unloved Anaconda and the lyrically primitive Kiss the Carpet have featured on the 30th Anniversary tour show that his attitude to these early classics, as on so many topics, is mellowing.