Number Ones: #124


  • THE MISSION Tower Of Strength (Mercury)
  • Week Ending 20th February 1988
  • 1 Week At #1

The genesis of Wayne Hussey’s band had proven a protracted and messy affair, in the wake of The Sisters Of Mercy’s break-up in 1985. Hussey himself wasn’t a founding member of the Sisters, only joining in early 1984, but had ended up one of the trio who fulfilled concert and promotional duties for the First, Last And Always campaign. 

There then followed a very public spat with mainman Andrew Eldritch over the name, and an attempt to record new material as The Sisterhood which Eldritch nixed by releasing an album called The Gift under that name before Hussey and co. got around to it first. This was only part of the drama, with legal proceedings and record label contract breaches all added into the toxic mix, but by 1986 the new Hussey-led project had a name – The Mission – and a record label (Chapter 22). 

At this point it was a all a bit Indie, with the videos for their Chapter 22 releases Serpent’s Kiss and Garden Of Delight being on the budget side (viewers of The Chart Show on Channel 4 became quite well acquainted with them during the summer of 1986, on the Indie Top 10 rundowns), but then major label status arrived courtesy of Phonogram and The Mission’s assault on the pop charts really began.

Momentum built slowly but steadily, as Stay With Me went to #30 and the album managed a #14 debut towards the end of the year. I only began to take notice with the following single, Wasteland, a knowingly epic and bombastic slice of gothic pop/rock that almost reached the UK Top 10 in January 1987. It made #3 on my own charts, while shortly after I took a punt on the album – God’s Own Medicine – in an Our Price “bargain bin” for about 2.99 on cassette. It was pretty good.

The record label took a further single off the LP – Severina, replete with a notable cameo from All About Eve’s Julianne Reagan – but for the rest of 1987 there was nothing else released. By the time The Mission returned almost a year later, Eldritch had stormed back into the charts with his revamped Sisters Of Mercy and had huge success with the acclaimed Floodland album.

Your move, Wayne.

Tower Of Strength comes on like a monolithic, Led Zeppelin-esque anthem, rising to a crescendo and full of exotic touches. Almost exactly like Kashmir, in fact. Which was no great surprise, given the track was produced by John Paul Jones, the former Led Zep bassist. Shameless? Maybe. Effective? Definitely.

Issued in the grim days of late January/early February 1988, the track obviously struck a chord with me as it flew to #1, something none of the Floodland singles had managed (even though, paradoxically, I would say those are superior records…Dominion, in particular).

Still, that’s the way the Personal Chart Cookie crumbles sometimes.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s