An outlet for the surfeit of material they had around the "Carved in Sand" era. Judging by the patchy quality of these songs, it can't have been that difficult to decide the final track listing for "Carved in Sand". "Hands Across the Ocean" is the only real gem, upbeat goth pop with the emphasis on the pop. "Bird of Passage" is a pleasant enough Elton-Johnish piano ballad. But "The Grip of Disease" and "Divided We Fall" show that without good tunes all that remains is big-haired posturing.
A few distractions from the plain Mission rock sound are interesting for fans but insubstantial. The Kinks' "Mr Pleasant" is covered in Chas and Dave pub rock style. The swearword-laden invective "Mercenary" (along the lines of the Cure's "Shiver and Shake") will delight sniggering teenage boys. On "Sweet Smile of a Mystery", Wayne Hussey's groaning vocals are puffed up with a pompous Biblical-epic-movie style orchestra. The pornographic "Heaven Sends You" confirms that, as a rule, rock singers can't get away with sex lyrics, and Hussey is no exception. At least "Heaven Sends You" (from "Children") made an attempt at subtlety.
Some rehashes of familiar Mission songs serve as filler. The piano-only version of "Kingdom Come" is a pleasing rearrangement, just as they successfully softened up "Garden of Delight" a few years earlier. Their architectural anthem "Tower of Strength" is difficult to murder, working well in a rich acoustic setting, but "Butterfly on a Wheel" ends up as limp when castrated of its production.
May 9, 2005