By the mid-'80s, the British goth scene had begun to achieve a certain degree of critical acclaim and commercial success. Led by the likes of the Sisters of Mercy and the Mission UK, the sparkling -- if often downbeat -- guitar pop of bands such as Ghost Dance became briefly touted as the way forward for U.K. indie music. However, by the early '90s the bubble had burst, and Ghost Dance was left without an audience.
Ghost Dance came into being when guitarist Gary Marx left the Sisters of Mercy in 1985, having composed much of the material on their debut album, First and Last and Always. He quickly recruited singer Anne-Marie Hurst from fellow goths Skeletal Family and guitarist Etch. The initial sessions consisted of odd cover versions -- "Radar Love," anyone? -- and Sisters-inspired material, even to the point of using a drum machine, dubbed "Pandora." A few more members came and went, including ex-Red Lorry Yellow Lorry guitarist Steve Smith, before the lineup was finalized, consisting of Hurst, Marx, Etch, guitarist Richard Steel, and drummer John Grant.
After a handful of singles and EPs mostly released on the U.K. indie label Karbon, Ghost Dance was signed to Chrysalis in 1988. Their debut album, Stop the World, followed a year later. Unfortunately, the attempts at grafting a new pop sensibility onto the band's material were critically derided. Like many goth outfits, as the '90s approached, Ghost Dance found themselves unable to successfully change with the times, and they folded soon afterward. Etch briefly joined the touring lineup of the Mission UK, while Steel later resurfaced in Spacehog. Tracks periodically appear on goth compilations, and rumors of reunions continue to circulate. ~ Jim Harper