You can now pre-order a four-record boxset of vinyl from Rhino Records, titled Some Girls Wander By Mistake, that will cover the earliest singles and EPs of The Sisters of Mercy, from 1980 to 1983.
Available from 1st September, for the princely sum of £35.92, it is titled the same as the 1992 compilation album released by the band and includes much of the same music. However, also included is the 1992 version of Temple of Love with Ofra Haza and the Canadian Club Remix of Vision Thing – released as a club single in ’91.
There is also a re-release of Under The Gun, the very last single from The Sisters Of Mercy, released in 1993. It includes both the Jutland and Metropolis Mix, plus the 1993 remix of the floor-filling classic Alice. So, in a way this box-set will bookend the career of The Sisters of Mercy, containing their first and last officially released singles – at least until the ‘newer’ songs see some kind of publication… if ever.
Rhino have form with this – they released another four-vinyl boxset in 2016 covering the last studio album, Vision Thing, which included the album, the singles, and a few bootlegs and remixes as well. So, is this a chance to experience a classic recording amalgamated with choice extras, in a remastered design, with an upgraded sound?
I reached out to audiophile, Sisters scholar and singer of Terminal Gods Robert Cowlin for his professional take on this release and whether it was a completist’s goal, a purist’s dream or a blatant extortion effort.
The Blogging Goth: Hi Rob, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. So, first off, you’re a Sisters fan of impeccable auditory savvy. Will this reissue see an improvement on the quality do you think?
Rob Cowlin: Hopefully this reissue will see an improvement in sound quality if the label follows the same route as they have for the previous three LP/digital box sets. The difficulty with these early singles is that the masters are scattered and the original release of SGWBM used (not very good) needledrops as the sources.
The three 12 inches were originally cut at MPO (a French vinyl processing plant that handled the original releases), which is still in operation. I hope Rhino has been able to salvage the original vinyl cutting masters from MPO and used them for this release (if they still exist). The Damage Done and Body Electric are trickier, both were mastered at small London studios, who knows what has happened to their production parts.
The Body Electric master turned up on the CNT compilation, “They Shall Not Pass”, and sounds a lot better than the mess on the original SGWBM compilation. If they have to use needledrops that is okay, but hopefully they will make better transfers than the ones used in ’92. If they’re able to use original tape sources (either masters or vinyl cutting tapes) then this release should beat the original compilation for sound quality, and could potentially sound better than the original singles depending on how good the mastering is.
Thankfully, the other three titles in this series have been mastered to a good standard with healthy dynamic range and appropriate EQ. If the early singles receive a similar treatment then these could be the best they’ve ever sounded.
The inclusion of Temple of Love ’92 and Under the Gun is a head-scratcher. From a sound quality perspective, the original CD singles are excellent and I can’t see them being improved upon.
TBG: I was curious about including the later singles – are they just filling space do you think, enough to bulk out another four-record collection?
RC: Purely filler in my opinion. They should have just reissued SGWBM and Overbombing as standalone releases.
TBG: Do you think Rhino will release a box-set for A Slight Case of Overbombing as well?
RC: They’ve nothing left to pad a box out with. Hopefully they will reissue it on its own as originals are hard to come by!
TBG: So this is more for audiophiles and completists then?
RC: Not at all. Any fan of the band (particularly the obsessives who know the songs well) will be able to hear the difference in sound quality between the reissue, original compilation, and original singles – for better or worse.
I’ve shared some of my needledrops of the original singles and fans have been surprised at the difference in sound quality achievable simply by sourcing mint condition originals and using competent equipment. If Rhino use good tape sources then there should be an easily quantifiable uptick in sound quality.
With the original singles getting harder to find in mint condition, I should think this reissue will appeal to quite a few fans and of course modern vinyl enthusiasts. For what it’s worth, I don’t understand the fans on message boards or Facebook who go “I’ve got the original 12″, 7″, promo, test pressing, cassette, bootleg – why would I buy *this*?!” Hypocritical much?
TBG: What do you think the band’s strategy is for this re-release, if indeed they’ve been involved at all?
RC: I doubt the band has been involved, though the box set’s release is due to coincide with their Roundhouse residency!
TBG: Yeah, Rhino scheduled this well. Thanks very much for your time, Rob!