Sunday, 9 February 2014


Music review time. Because this place has been dead for too long of late and I must try and get it going again. What better way, thought I, than hearkening back to a time and a place that is far removed from today. Sunday School, when I was still but a callow youth and not yet fully in my teens, a place where I heard, for the first ever time by the by, the term 'Satanic' used about popular culture. Now, don't get me wrong, my Sunday School was not one to use that term very much (if at all) and my experience of religion was not to be tainted very much by it being applied to popular culture. No, this was special.

I refer, of course, to the music video for one of the songs that really helped me define the early '90s whilstr I was still there rather than helped me to define what they were long after I had left. Shakespeare's Sister's Stay. Eh, this could get boring quickly. Would you like to know more?

The song starts very oddly for stuff that I like. Sung high and slow with an almost theatrical relish. There's a slightly odd organ sound going on and there's a warble from the main singer (Detroit?) that would usually have had me turning off. However, for reasons I no longer remember, on first hearing I did not do that. I can only assume that there was something else that kept me listening. This was the era of me being into bleepy sounds and atmospheric pap like Marc Almond's Days of Pearly Spencer and Erasure's Abba-esque EP so perhaps there was enough of that at play to keep me interested.

About halfway through there's a foghorn moment (Newman and Baddiel?) when Siobhan Fahey (sp?) enters and that's the moment that I fell in love with the sing. Something about the sudden change in pace combined with the lower register of her voice compared to the warbling highness elsewhere makes this stand up and force you to take notice. I loved it then and I love it now. There was a version doing the rounds without this inserted section and I hated it because, to me, the whole arrangement hinges on this moment. It's that insistent bass note (not a drum but it plays the same role) and the tinkling piano that combine to make this work so well.

Overall, it reminds me very much of the later work of people like Evanescence and even elements of dubstep (yes, I like that too). Not ahead of its time, of course, very firmly rooted in the early nineties but a fine example of that time when everything seemed to be changing and art was looking for something to replace the pressure of nuclear devastation and existential angst with something else (hence the costume and facial expressions of Siobhan Fahey I suppose and the reasoning for my Sunday School teacher to call it 'Satanic'. I didn't really get it then and I still don't really get it now - most explanations I did find suggest that the role is angel of death rather than the Devil). The juxtaposition of the space opera opening with the lines "You'd better hope and pray / that you wake one day / back in your own world" always put me in mind of something titanic and dangerous just off-screen.

What am I saying? I still like the song a great deal, I actually think the video fits it well (loving the eye roll near the end) and I recently rediscovered it by accident. Enjoy it here.

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