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The Mission

+ {Wayne Hussey}

As summer 1985 turned into early 1986, the light of day (via a court settlement) for goth-rock act The SISTERS OF MERCY had not yet been ascertained between Messrs Andrew Eldritch and men on a mission Wayne Hussey and Craig Adams. Remaining in Leeds, the pair recruited guitarist Simon Hinkler (ex-ARTERY, ex-PULP) and drummer Mick Brown (ex-RED LORRY YELLOW LORRY), and chose to perform under the name The Sisterhood for a gig in January ’86 supporting The CULT. Much to their dismay and rather confusingly for the press and public alike, former chief Eldritch – in fear of a takeover of the “Sister” part of the name – came out of the stalls himself with The SISTERHOOD moniker on a single (`Giving Ground’); by definition of a court ruling, Eldritch won the lawsuit and an alleged £25,000 advance from WEA, leaving Hussey (now vocals/guitar), Adams (bass) and Co to lick their wounds and almost immediately come up with The MISSION.
Deserted by WEA Records, the quartet opened their account on indie label Chapter 22, releasing in May ’86, the enjoyably amateurish goth theatrics of `Serpents Kiss’, which breeched the Top 75. A second single, the Top 50 `Garden Of Delight’, appeared later that summer before the band were snapped up by Mercury/Phonogram Records; incidentally, B-side and outtake covers from this period comprised NEIL YOUNG’s `Like A Hurricane’, FREE’s `Wishing Well’, The BEATLES’ `Tomorrow Never Knows’, PATTI SMITH’s `Dancing Barefoot’ and The STOOGES’ `1969’ – the latter once covered by the SoM.
The MISSION’s debut album, GODS OWN MEDICINE (1986) {*8} sold enough copies to reach No.14, bolstered no doubt by the strength of grandiose hits `Stay With Me’, `Wasteland’ and `Severina’. Given a bit of a rough ride by critics for its often overbearing goth pompousness, the record was nevertheless a fairly accomplished set of alt-rock, a bit like what U2 might’ve sounded like had they been born in Leeds and developed a penchant for wearing pointy shoes and smearing their faces with flour. An orchestral manoeuvre of sorts in `Garden Of Delight (Hereafter)’, it staked The MISSION’s claim as the new goth messiahs and no doubt making Eldritch almost sick to his stomach – for now.
But much as the band liked to be serious fellows on record, they liked to party hard behind the scenes; Craig Adams coming a cropper on a particularly gruelling US tour in ‘87, culminating in him briefly leaving The MISSION UK (their enforced Stateside moniker). His temporary replacement was Pete Turner, who filled in for the remainder of the said tour and also played at their triumphant Reading Festival headlining appearance later that summer.
With Adams back in the fold, the band began work on a new album with JOHN PAUL JONES on production chores. The less than substantial result was CHILDREN (1988) {*7}, a near number one despite its critical lashing from certain sections of the fickle press. Very much in the mould of U2 rather than JPJ’s former outfit LED ZEPPELIN, grandiose goth was magically turned into hard and acoustic rock in equal measures; top tracks arose from edited hits `Tower Of Strength’ and `Beyond The Pale’ (featuring ALL ABOUT EVE’s Julianne Regan), while a dodgy folk-rock re-tread of AEROSMITH’s `Dream On’, was a mystifying inclusion.
Preceded by the ballad-y `Butterfly On A Wheel’ hit, 1990’s Top 10 set CARVED IN SAND {*7} had quite a lot to offer for their fans, several of whom were selected to cherry-pick each track. Dynamic and dramatic, Top 40 hits `Deliverance’ and `Into The Blue’ garnered the most attention, while the spangly and strummy `Paradise (Will Shine Like The Moon)’ had its unintentional acoustic roots in JETHRO TULL’s `Fat Man’. More elegantly refined than their normally heavy-handed approach, the set remains their most listenable effort, if not their most successful.
The MISSION resumed exhaustive touring schedules following the album’s release; Hinkler subsequently storming out on the American jaunt. His replacement for the remainder of the tour was another ex-RED LORRY YELLOW LORRY player, David Wolfenden, while the band eventually recruited guitarist Paul “Etch” Etchells (ex-GHOST DANCE) as a semi-permanent fixture later that year. Out-takes album, GRAINS OF SAND (1990) {*6} was thought good enough to spin out, its covers of JOHN LENNON’s `Love’ and The KINKS’ `Mr. Pleasant’, adding another string to the band’s boa.
What came next was rather embarrassing for all parties concerned, when, in 1991, a playful but obnoxious Hussey was ushered off James Whale’s late night TV talk show for being drunk and abusive to its ever-polite “pillock” of a presenter! Slightly less of an ordeal for fans of band was when they’d united (in 1990) with SLADE’s Holder and Lea for a charity version of `Merry Xmas Everybody’, under the glam-pop moniker of Metal Gurus; Hussey was a huge fan of MARC BOLAN & T. REX.
The ambitious MASQUE (1992) {*5} album – which featured the violin playing of FAIRPORT CONVENTION’s Ric Sanders and other guests – rid them the tag of goth, in its place was a shoegazing, crusty aspect that recalled The WONDER STUFF or LEVELLERS. Failing to breech the Top 20 while aiming to break barriers across the ocean, `Never Again’, `Like A Child Again’ and `Shades Of Green’, popped in and out of the charts without much fuss.
Mark Gemini Thwaite on guitar (ex-SPEAR OF DESTINY) was installed to replace Wolfenden and Adams for a series of singles that culminated with `The Mission: 1’ and `The Mission: 2’ EPs, delivered on Hussey’s own Neverland imprint (through Equator). Cherry-picking `Raising Cain’, `Sway’, `Swoon’ et al, from their Middle Eastern music soiree, the NEVERLAND (1995) {*3} set should never have seen the light of day.
The MISSION duly scraped into the Top 75 with their mutated-metal of the BLUE (1996) {*4} set, and though this was a slight improvement, it was a sad indictment to a once enterprising outfit. Hussey and Co would call it a day thereafter, but he revived the band with additional drums from Geoff Reading, Dana Sims and Andy Gregg for twilight record, RESURRECTION: GREATEST HITS (1999) {*5}; a cash-in EVER AFTER – LIVE (2000) {*4} was worst still.
Guitarist Rob Holliday (ex-SULPHUR) had entered the fray for several months, while a new line-up of Hussey, Adams, Thwaite, plus drummer Scott Garrett (ex-DAG NASTY) was in place when the Leeds’ goth shock troops returned in 2001 with AURA {*6}. A reasonable attempt at reanimating the spell they’d held over the nation’s black-clad youth back in their mid-late 80s heyday, `Evangeline’, `Shine Like The Stars’ and the concluding `In Denial’ (at 9 minutes!) presented a RADIOHEAD-esque sound.
In a case of re-activating their back catalogue once again, fresh recordings of recent material on AURAL DELIGHT (2002) {*5} were matched with covers of DEPECHE MODE’s `Never Let Me Down Again’ and ELVIS’s `Can’t Help Falling In Love With You’.
Having rested on his/their laurels long enough, Hussey re-enlisted Thwaite and added bassist Rich Vernon and drummer Steve Spring to complement The MISSION’s “comeback” set, GOD IS A BULLET (2007) {*5}; Simon Hinkler would deliver a cameo. Churning out their U2-meets-goth rock, one can’t imagine musos other than pure acolytes loving the alien beats of `Still Deep Waters’, `Blush’ and the forlorn `Father’.
Inevitably, WAYNE HUSSEY was afforded a solo set. BARE (2008) {*5} basically reproduced a bit of self-indulgence by way of MISSION re-treads and a handful of covers. Weirdly, the title also, of an ANNIE LENNOX covers set, acoustic guitar and piano took precedence on staples such as The CURE’s `A Night Like This’, U2’s `With Or Without You’, The BEACH BOYS’ `God Only Knows’ and that nostalgic Rodgers & Hart nugget, `My Funny Valentine’; note that further coverage came through a re-issued version which added live takes of BEN HARPER’s `Another Lonely Day’ and BOWIE’s `Ashes To Ashes’. The latter two also featured on HUSSEY and (Julianne) REGAN’s “darkwave” covers set, CURIOS (2011) {*5}; rolling off other stuff from the quills of DURAN DURAN, BJORK, The PRETENDERS, DEPECHE MODE, GLEN CAMPBELL et al.
Re-formed soon afterwards, The MISSION – Hussey, Hinkler, Adams and newbie drummer Mike Kelly – fashioned out their umpteenth set, THE BRIGHTEST LIGHT (2013) {*6}. While a sprawling 8-minute opener, `Black Cat Bone’ (lyrics borrowed from blues masters JOHNSON, WATERS, et al), the quartet had dragged themselves up from their flowery gravestones to follow their idols LED ZEPPELIN in `Swan Song’, ROD STEWART & THE FACES for `Just Another Pawn In Your Game’ and a gritty biker beat a la `Drag’.
Maturing over the years, HUSSEY’s sophomore solo set, SONGS OF CANDLELIGHT AND RAZORBLADES (2014) {*6}, received many plaudits for his mission to surprise even the staunchest of doubters. Whether he’ll lead out his band again, Wayne’s world would be all the better for having generated some gorgeous gems here. A romantic at heart and always unafraid to bare his soul song-wise, the pomp and bombast were still entwined, but curtailed on the likes of `Wasting Away (Reprise)’, `Madam G’, `The Bouquets And The Bows’ and `Wither On The Vine’.
Returning to the Top 40 after over two decades in the er… wasteland, The MISSION were a tower of strength once more with ANOTHER FALL FROM GRACE (2016) {*8}. Recalling their classic, goth-rock days of three decades aback (glistening guitars, deadbeat drums, bold bass and visceral vox), Hussey and his haunts somehow sound fresh as the day they were reborn on best bits `Tyranny Of Secrets’, `Met-Amor-Phosis’, `Within The Deepest Darkness (Fearful)’, the title track and the mournful `Never’s Longer Than Forever’.
© MC Strong 1994-2006/GRD // rev-up MCS Aug2015-Oct2016

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