|Studio album by|
|Released||13 November 1987|
|The Sisters of Mercy chronology|
|Singles from Floodland|
Floodland is the second studio album by English gothic rock band the Sisters of Mercy. It was released on 13 November 1987 through Merciful Release and WEA, with Elektra Records handling the US release.
After the release of the band's debut album, First and Last and Always (1985), members Craig Adams and Wayne Hussey departed the band, leading to the band's disbandment. As a result, band frontman Andrew Eldritch formed a side project, The Sisterhood, and recorded new material with them. After his first album with the side project received poor sales and a negative reception, he went back to recording with the Sisters of Mercy, albeit still without Adams and Hussey. Sisterhood member Patricia Morrison became a part of the band as a result.
Eldritch called upon Larry Alexander and Jim Steinman to produce the album with him. Recording sessions began in Manhattan, New York during January 1987 at Power Station Studios. After the first sessions, the remainder of the album was recorded in England at Strawberry Studios in Stockport, The Wool Hall in Bath, and AIR Studios in London. Eldritch served as the vocalist and performed most of the instruments on all tracks, with Morrison performing bass on some tracks and the band's drum machine, "Doktor Avalanche", acting as the drum player. In contrast to First and Last and Always, Floodland was done in a less conventional way, with the album being pieced together on computers using sequencers.
Floodland had a positive commercial performance. It debuted in the United Kingdom at number 9. Its pre-orders assured it silver certification status from the BPI upon its release. In 1988, the album was certified gold by the BPI for selling 100,000 copies in the UK. The album also peaked within the top 40 in other European countries. The album was supported by three singles: "This Corrosion", "Dominion", and "Lucretia My Reflection". In the UK, "This Corrosion" peaked at number 7, "Dominion" peaked at number 13, and "Lucretia My Reflection" peaked at number 20. The song "1959" was also released as a radio single.
- 1 Background
- 2 Recording
- 3 Composition
- 4 Release and singles
- 5 Commercial performance
- 6 Track listing
- 7 Personnel
- 8 Charts
- 9 Certifications
- 10 References
- 11 Bibliography
- 12 External links
Break-up of the original band
After the release of the band's debut album First and Last and Always in March 1985, frontman Andrew Eldritch intended to record an ABBA cover as a single, and tried to hire Jim Steinman as a producer. Eldritch originally contacted him when the ABBA song "Gimme Gimme Gimme" was in the band's setlist. Steinman was interested in producing the cover, but was too busy at that time. Shortly afterward, the Sisters of Mercy disbanded. The break-up occurred while the band prepared their second LP in October 1985, which was going to be titled Left on Mission and Revenge. Eldritch, who still intended to record the album as a solo artist, on the same day called bassist Patricia Morrison, currently on a UK tour with her band Fur Bible supporting Siouxsie and the Banshees, and asked her to collaborate with him.
The music press reported the break-up on 2 November 1985, announcing that "the Sisters of Mercy were down to singer Andrew Eldritch and his faithful drum machine Doctor Avalanche this week after guitarist Wayne Hussey and bassist Craig Adams left the band. Although this has scuppered recording plans for a new album this month, Andrew now intends to record the same album in the New Year and could well be using Wayne as a session guitarist. [...] Andrew has also approached former Gun Club bassist Patricia Morrison—now in Fur Bible—to play on the album, but it's not yet known whether Andrew will continue with the name Sisters of Mercy." Eldritch had no intention to carry on under the old band's name, as members of the band who left to form the Mission had an agreement with him that the name "the Sisters of Mercy" would be used by no one after the break-up.
Eldritch released the single "Giving Ground" on 20 January 1986 under the name "The Sisterhood", which featured vocals by his musician friend James Ray. At the end of February 1986 the Merciful Release label announced the "forthcoming Andrew Eldritch album which for some months has had the working title Left on Mission and Revenge." This solo album which was finally titled Gift was released in July 1986, again under the Sisterhood moniker. It was recorded at Fairview Studios in Willerby, Hull. Eldritch did not sing on the album for contractual reasons. Morrison collaborated with him for the first time, contributing a spoken passage on the track "Jihad". The album was a financial failure, received negative reviews from the music press, and, as a result, Eldritch lost his publishing deal with RCA Music Limited. A Sisterhood 12" EP titled This Corrosion was planned for release and would feature an American vocalist, whose identity was meant to be kept secret until release. It had been recorded at Fairview Studios with Alan Vega but remained unreleased. Eldritch instead kept the idea for when he would reboot the Sisters of Mercy.
Preparation of the album
After the "Sisterhood fiasco", Eldritch decided to continue under the name "The Sisters of Mercy", feeling as though doing so would improve the name's reputation after the previous fallout. He also thought that it would have been nonsensical to change the name, as he still wrote songs the same way as before. Eldritch, who in 1985 first moved to Bramfeld and then to St. Pauli, began to compose a new album, under the WEA label, in Hamburg. The demos were mainly recorded with a Casio CZ-101 synthesizer, acoustic guitars and a new drum machine. At the time, Eldritch was attempting to find a MIDI drum machine that featured a "tighter snare drum" sound at a modest price. With the exception of "This Corrosion", he recorded demo versions of all Floodland songs in 1986, which later began to appear on the bootleggers' market.
According to Eldritch, Morrison didn't contribute to the songwriting, saying that it was a "full-on solo album. My partner Patricia Morrison obviously suffered from writer's block. She didn't come up with any musical ideas, I couldn't even get her to pick up the bass in the first place." Merciful Release office manager Boyd Steemson also confirmed that her contributions were minimal. Eldritch denied that his approach to songwriting had changed since the band split, saying that "'This Corrosion' sounds like 'Temple of Love' II, '1959' sounds like 'Afterhours' part 2. I don't see any difference or any real change. I think I just carry on where I stopped." He licensed the publishing to SBK Songs Limited (now part of EMI Music Publishing).
The starting point for the album was the song "This Corrosion", which was to be produced by Steinman. Eldritch had immediately thought of him when he came up with the idea for the song. He stated that "when we were trying to sell 'Corrosion' to Steinman, we told him it was like the high-point of a Borgia's disco evening and he went for it." He also used Steinman to get his record company to concede an appropriate recording budget. He figured that the company wouldn't grant money to use on choirs, but that they'd immediately do so if Steinman were to ask for it. According to Steemson, Max Hole, the head of Warners' A&R, managed to get the band a budget of £50,000 for the song.
The recording of "This Corrosion" and "Dominion/Mother Russia" started in January 1987 in New York. Steinman and Eldritch used Power Station Studios in Manhattan, New York, where they worked with engineer Larry Alexander. On both songs, Steinman used six background singers and 40 members of the New York Choral Society. Eldritch recalled that he was unsure as to why so many vocalists sung all at once, but noted that it "seemed like a good idea at the time" and worked out well in the end. Steinman mainly focused on the production of the choral singings and did not contribute much to the actual composition and arrangements. This caused him to receive only partial production credit for "Dominion/Mother Russia".
The remainder of the album was recorded in England. Initially, Eldritch worked with an unknown producer, who he eventually fired. He called Larry Alexander while in New York and hired him as a co-producer. They traveled to England, where they recorded at multiple studios. They spent time at Strawberry Studios in Manchester before transitioning to The Wool Hall in Bath. Recording was completed at AIR Studios in London. Roy Neave, an in-house engineer at Fairview Studios, engineered the sessions. Originally Eldritch intended to work with his colleague John Spence, who had worked with the Sisterhood in 1986, but he was committed to another project at the time and recommended Neave as his replacement.
The music of Floodland has been described as a mix of gothic rock and dark wave. In contrast to the previous album, First and Last and Always, which had been recorded in a conventional way, Floodland was pieced together on a computer with the help of sequencers. Eldritch worked on the recorded parts with a Voyetra Sequencer Plus, with a Yamaha SPX-90 being used as an effects unit and the parts being saved on a Compaq Portable 286. The guitars were played by Eldritch himself, apart from the solo on "This Corrosion" which was played by Steinman's friend Eddie Martinez. In the previous year, he had played the guitar solo on Robert Palmer's US number one hit "Addicted to Love". Most of the bass on the album was not played on a bass guitar, but instead by Eldritch himself using synth bass. Though Patricia Morrison was brought in as a member to play the bass, she was only featured in some places; Eldritch later suggested that she did not appear at all on the album. In an interview, he commented on the issue of Morrison playing on Floodland, saying "that's an assumption which a lot of people make, [...] but obviously I question that assumption." Morrison later stated that she did indeed play on the album, but Eldritch recorded over her parts at times. The drum sounds on the album were sampled together from various drum machines with an Akai S900. The tom sound was from an Oberheim DMX which had been used on First and Last and Always. The remaining drum sounds were from a Yamaha RX-5. The track "1959" features only the sound of a piano, but was pieced together with a sequencer by Eldritch and played without an actual piano.
Regarding the album title, Eldritch realized that, after writing all the songs, the theme of water came up multiple times throughout. He attributed the recurrence of this theme to the amount of water within Hamburg, where he was writing these songs. The two-part opening track, "Dominion/Mother Russia", was inspired by the well-known poem Ozymandias, from which one line is lifted. Eldritch noted that "Dominion" is specifically about "erecting monuments in outrageous places to one's own personal power and then crumbling away." "Mother Russia" was inspired by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. "Flood I" and "Flood II" use the word "flood" as a metaphor for sex. Eldritch commented on the song, saying "most people, if you think about it, only get wet under certain circumstances. [...] Water is something so mammoth, so a flood is emotionally very stimulating." He has called "Lucretia My Reflection" his "Welcome on board, Patricia" song, saying that he had always thought of her as a "Lucretia-type person."
The centre piece of the album, "This Corrosion", goes back to the conflict between Eldritch and his former bandmates who were now in the Mission. The lyrics are a parody of "clichéd, meaningless rock lyrics" as Wayne Hussey especially wrote them. Eldritch noted that "it is, of course, directed at somebody and it doesn't take a genius to work out who, although it'll probably take the person concerned some considerable time. [...] Nearly all of [the lyrics] should be thought of in quotation marks. It would be too confusing to print them all." He also notes that the title is printed in all-capitals, because "it's the title of somebody else's song. I invented this fictitious band and made them sing all these stupidities. [...] Wayne used to withdraw himself with a book of song titles, select those which sounded best and piece together a song lyric from it. It didn't have to have any meaning, it just had to sound good."
"Driven Like the Snow", like "Nine While Nine" on the band's previous album, is about Eldritch's former girlfriend Claire Shearsby, even being noted as "Nine While Nine Part 2" by him. He thought of the song as a way to logically explain why the relationship had to fall apart. On "Never Land", Eldritch commented that it imagines "the entire population of the earth starting to travel from some indefinable point in space toward the earth at increasing speed. It would take an eternity to reach the earth—by which time you'd be reasonably spiritualised—and even when you reached the destination, you wouldn't actually hit the ground. You'd be going so fast you'd just go through and out the other side, where there is another eternity of nothingness. I just tried to write a song about these impressions." The lyrics Eldritch referred to would be found on the full 12-minute version of the song, which was included in the Merciful Release box set.
Release and singles
|The Village Voice||C+|
Floodland was released on 13 November 1987, through Merciful Release and WEA. Morrison's name was not included in the album's credits, although she was pictured on the sleeve and she appeared under her real name Anne Rainone in the "Thanks" section of the inner sleeve. Morrison downplayed this fact in interviews, saying "if you look at Sisters' records, the names for what people play usually aren't there. Andrew writes the songs so there's no reason for anyone else to be featured. I was well aware of that when the album came out but what I didn't realise was that it would confuse other people. If people haven't seen the press we've done, they don't know I'm in the band." After the album's release, Eldritch chose not to embark on a tour to promote the album, feeling that the album was never made to be played live.
"This Corrosion" (September 1987)
"This Corrosion" was selected as the first single from the album, although Eldritch initially had pleaded for "Dominion". WEA conceded a budget of over £50,000 for the video. It was shot in a warehouse in Wapping and set in the ruins of a post-nuclear attack London and was directed by Stuart Orme. The band wanted to film in Kazakhstan in the Soviet Union, but at the same time, Russian record label Melodiya was in negotiations with the West regarding video rights, and filming there would have botched the negotiations.
The single was released on 18 September 1987. Each format (7", 12", CD and cassette) contained a different mix of the song. Eldritch originally wanted the long version on the single, but the record company desired for an edited version instead. The mix of the LP version is identical to that of the 12" version, but fades out earlier. The cassette version was mixed by Steinman and differs from other single versions. The B-side of the single was "Torch", which Eldritch produced and played every instrument on. It had been written in 1985 for the aborted Left on Mission and Revenge album. The 12" single added Eldritch's version of the Sisterhood song "Colours".
It reached number 7 in the UK singles charts. Eldritch and Morrison, backed by members of James Ray and the Performance, appeared on the TV shows Top of the Pops and The Roxy. The single failed to enter the US Billboard Hot 100, but reached number 38 in the Billboard Club Play chart. In Germany, the single entered the charts in November 1987 and reached number 17.
"Dominion" (February 1988)
A remix of "Dominion" was announced as the second single in December 1987 and released in the last week of February 1988. A cover of the Hot Chocolate song "Emma" was recorded for the single in January 1988 at The Church Studios in North London, with final overdubs and mixing completed at Master Rock Studios in Kilburn. Morrison provided the bass guitar for the track. Eldritch recorded vocals for the song several times, but regardless of the result, he felt that it didn't sound as good as his vocals from live performances. As a result, he and producer Hugh Jones hired the Kilburn National Theatre and the Rolling Stones Mobile recording truck and played the track to him through the stage monitors, recording multiple performances with him singing on the stage.
The other B-side tracks of the single, made from various "Dominion" segments, were prepared shortly before the "Dominion" video shoot. "Sandstorm" consists of various sampled saxophone and keyboard parts from "Dominion", mixed to a moody short instrumental track which was used in the opening section of the video. "Untitled" is a slowed-down instrumental excerpt from "Dominion". The CD single contained "Ozymandias", which is "Dominion" played backwards. The video for "Dominion" was filmed in February 1988 in the Jordanian city of Petra. After the commercial success of "This Corrosion", WEA had again conceded a budget of £50,000 and enlisted director David Hogan, who shot the video in two days after four-and-a-half months of preparation. Eldritch called the video "Lawrence of Arabia part two."
In the UK, the single reached number 13 in the charts. Eldritch and Morrison, backed by members of James Ray and the Performance, appeared on the TV shows Top of the Pops and The Roxy. In the US, the single was only released as a promotional 12 inch. Nevertheless, it reached number 30 in the Billboard Club Play chart on 18 June 1988. The single failed to chart in Germany.
"Lucretia My Reflection" (May 1988)
As the third and last Sisters single for the next two-and-a-half years, a remix of "Lucretia My Reflection" was released on 27 May 1988. The song's lyrics mentioned the words "long train", so the eponymous Sisters track was selected as a B-side. "Long Train" was originally released as a flexi disc in 1984 and had already become a collector's item. The video was filmed in India with director Peter Sinclair, at a "Bombay cotton factory" and other places. Additionally a video to "1959" was filmed in India. For a while Eldritch had toyed with the idea of releasing "1959" as a single. It was however released as a promo for radio.
In the last week of May 1988 The Sisters of Mercy appeared at Montreux Rock Festival in Switzerland, which was organised by BBC, MTV and TSR and broadcast worldwide on television. During this mimed appearance, the only one in front of a large audience during the Floodland era, they were again backed by members of James Ray and the Performance.
In the UK, the single reached number 20 in the charts. A mimed performance on Top of the Pops on 16 June 1988 was the last public appearance of The Sisters for the next two years. In the US, the single did not enter the Billboard Hot 100, but on 20 August 1988 reached number 30 in the Billboard Club Play chart. The single did not chart in Germany.
Floodland reached number 9 in the UK album charts. Preorders alone assured the album silver status on the day of its release, and on 11 March 1988 it went gold with 100,000 sold units. According to Eldritch the album recouped the high production costs in 1989. In Germany, which Eldritch claimed was The Sisters' second largest market behind the UK, Floodland entered the top 100 albums chart on 14 December 1987, staying there for twenty weeks and reaching number 32. In 1993 it went gold, with 250,000 sold units. In the US, Floodland was released on 11 January 1988 by Elektra Records. It reached number 101 in the Billboard 200 on 12 March 1988.
All tracks written by Andrew Eldritch.
|3.||"Lucretia My Reflection"||4:57|
|3.||"Driven Like the Snow"||4:39|
|4.||"Never Land (a fragment)"||2:46|
|3.||"Lucretia My Reflection"||4:57|
|8.||"Driven Like the Snow"||6:27|
|9.||"Never Land (a fragment)"||2:55|
|3.||"Lucretia My Reflection"||4:57|
|7.||"Driven Like the Snow"||6:27|
|8.||"Never Land (a fragment)"||2:55|
|2006 reissue bonus tracks|
|11.||"Never Land"||Andrew Eldritch||12:00|
|12.||"Emma"||Errol Brown and Tony Wilson||6:21|
Personnel adapted from articles and interviews involving Eldritch and album liner notes.
The Sisters of Mercy
|German Albums (Offizelle Top 100)||32|
|New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)||28|
|Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)||28|
|Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)||24|
|UK Albums (OCC)||9|
|US Billboard 200||101|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||100,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
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