Deep One Perfect Morning

This coming Saturday we were supposed to be going to see The Jesus And Mary Chain perform Darklands at Manchester’s Albert Hall. Darklands is/was their 1987 album, a record that saw them replace the departed Bobby Gillespie with a drum machine and abandon the feedback drenched treble- fest of Psychocandy with an album that split opinions. Some Mary Chain fans saw it as an exciting next step, an album where you could hear the songs, and audibly make out the guitars not just the overloaded amps, an album with a stripped back, dark sheen but undoubtedly a poppier sound. Some saw it as a sell out. I’ve got a lot of time for Darklands- the hit single, too pissed on Top Of The Pops to stand up straight buzz of April Skies, the William sung title track and gloom of Nine Million Rainy Days and On The Wall, the sweet sting of Cherry Came Too, the buzzsaw pop of Happy When It Rains and this one…

Deep One Perfect Morning

The gig and tour has been postponed, a response to Coronavirus and the restrictions placed on gatherings of crowds in many European cities. It seems most un- Mary Chain like to be laid low by a virus. The Reid brothers of 1987 would have slagged it off in the music press, sneered at it, compared it to Bono or John Lydon and then got pissed and fallen over. While playing the full twenty five minutes of the gig.

The whole Coronavirus situation is becoming increasingly scary. I was in a meeting after work last night where we planned for the possibility of having to close the school and how we’d deal with and prepare for years and classes preparing for exams. The exam season starts on Monday 11th May, what scientists are saying could be the peak of the epidemic. If we have to close there will be classes who won’t have enough time to complete GCSE or A level courses. The tone of the government’s briefing last night was very different from the one on Friday and I’m guessing that school closures are moving into when not if territory although the government’s advice is contradictory- avoid pubs and restaurants but feed hundreds of children in school canteens, avoid social gatherings but put thousands of children into the same building every day. In the meantime we have both children and staff in self isolation and expect numbers to increase as the week goes on. On top of this our eldest child Isaac is in the vulnerable group and so now moves into a situation where he is to be in self isolation for twelve weeks. We are in very strange times and they’re getting stranger.

 

Reverberation

This song was mentioned in the comments to my Roky Erickson post on Sunday and I thought it was worth dragging up- a 1992 cover of a 13th Floor Elevators song by The Jesus And Mary Chain. Reverberation was on the 1966 debut The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators. The Reid brothers covered it and released it first as a B-side to the loved up Almost Gold single (the 12″ version but not the 10″ or 7″ releases) and then on 1993’s B-sides and rarities compilation The Sound Of Speed (the CD version but not the vinyl one). Their trusty drum machine pounds away and Jim snarls the words while William fires off squally guitar lines and waves of feedback.

Reverberation

Almost Gold is a moment of genuine bliss and beauty in the Mary Chain’s back catalogue, William dewy eyed and in love. I think this was when he was going out with Hope Sandoval, so who can blame him?

 

What Goes Around

In 2005 Sister Vanilla released their only album to date, Little Pop Rock. Sister Vanilla was/is Linda Reid, the sister of Jim and William. Back in 2005 Jim and William were only just talking again and the Mary Chain hadn’t yet re-united. Instead Little Pop Rock became a sort of Jesus And Mary Chain album by proxy, Linda on vocals throughout and Jim and William recording songs with her in her flat and at their studio The Drugstore (along with Ben Lurie who followed Jim after the JAMC split up live onstage in Los Angeles who plays on it ). The album was recorded piecemeal over a couple of years with Stephen Pastel helping out, while Jim and William presumably found their way round working alongside each other again.

Some of the songs on Little Pop Rock appeared elsewhere in the brothers catalogue- K To Be Lost on William’s Lazycame album and Can’t Stop The Rock and The Two Of Us on the reformed Mary Chain’s Damage And Joy from 2017 (Linda singing on the former). The songs reference the Mary Chain in places- the song called Jamcolas for one, a scuzzy romp with Jim singing the first half of the song and Linda the second. On K To Be Lost Linda sings ‘Honey’s Dead and Psychocandy, I listened to them all of the time’. Linda had sung on The Mary Chain’s swansong, 1998’s Munki, the song Mo Tucker being one of that albums few high points. So it’s a Mary Chain album in many ways with shared vocals, lo-fi and homemade (and all the better for it), Linda’s voice providing a good counterpoint to her brothers.

This one opens with a drum machine and single piano notes and a sense of impending doom. The guitar playing is spindly and distorted and then Linda, vocals smothered in reverb, sings of Tienanmen Square, digital pies and Jim Morrison.

TOTP

What Goes Around is full on self-loathing set to a three chord rumble with lyrics about hookers and LSD, money, drugs, fame, piss, mothers and wives, good times becoming bad times. Eventually William joins in singing ‘what goes around comes around’.

What Goes Around

Hal Blaine

I’m sure other people’s blogs will mark the death of drummer Hal Blaine at the age of 90 as well as this one. Hal Blaine was one of the most recorded drummers in history, a man who played on over 6000 singles and 40 number one singles including those by The Byrds, Simon and Garfunkel, The Carpenters, The Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, The Mamas And The Papas and The Supremes. He covered for Dennis Wilson on Pet Sounds. But the bottom line is he’s the man who did the intro on this…

Be By Baby

The result of a dropped drumstick apparently, a mistake that became one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most instantly identifiable sounds, amplified by Phil Spector’s production. The boom-ba-boom-crash sound was borrowed by, to name but two, The Jesus And Mary Chain…

Just Like Honey

And Johnny Boy…

You Are The Generation Who Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve

Coincidentally some of us were discussing the Johnny boy song on Twitter on Sunday night and I discovered that there’s a Don Letts directed video for the song I’d never seen before. It’s here.

Hal Blaine R.I.P.

Nine

Bagging Area started nine years ago today, taking a few faltering steps into the blogging world, unable at first to even work out how to copy and paste a link to a song. Since then I’ve written pretty much daily, found blogging to be a really good way to distract myself, made all sorts of friends and connections that I wouldn’t have done otherwise and have hopefully contributed a little to the enjoyment of music. Blogging was a bigger deal in 2010 than it is now- the landscape has changed and I suspect music blogs are a tad anachronistic in 2019- but I’ve got no plans to stop so it’s a matter of just keeping going and seeing where it takes me. Thanks to all of you who read this, to those who comment and to those who I’ve met in real life. Salut.

Some songs with nines in them.

Jim and William Reid from their Darklands days, re-edited here with a juddering electronic bassline…

9 Million Rainy Days (Los Lopez Edit)

It wouldn’t have been Bagging Area without Andrew Weatherall. Here Lord Sabre remixes Suns Of Arqa in fine style. Chunky acid house vibes…

City Of Nine Gates (Andy Weatherall Remix)

And finally London rock ‘n’ rollers The Flaming Stars with a drop of the dark stuff…

Nine Out Of Ten

Honey

Back in June I posted a new single from Death In Vegas. Honey is a slow burning, pulsing techno track graced by Sasha Grey’s seductive vocals. I’m still playing it now, still finding it one of those songs that gets right into me and makes me feel alive. In September it gained a video, mainly close ups of Sasha’s face while she coos that she would die for you.

The Los Angeles photographer Blake Little covered people in honey for a series of pictures and a book called Preservation. Being draped in honey might be rather nice but it must have taken ages to get clean afterwards. More here.

Honey is a bit of a theme in art and music- warm, sticky and sweet, an everyday luxury. More honey?

The Los Angeles photographer Blake Little covered people in honey for a series of pictures and a book called Preservation (including the one above). More here. Being draped in honey might be rather nice I would have thought but it must have taken ages to get clean afterwards.

Jim and William Reid’s Honey, like their Candy and Cindy, was a love song to a girl or a drug (or both). Here they are on The Tube, introduced by Paula Yates on Friday night in 1985, still with Bobby Gillespie playing the snare drum. Black leather, pale skin, feedback.

Earlier this year I posted another Scottish band’s tribute to Honey, The Pastels whose Baby Honey is a wonderfully shambolic B-side from 1984.

Baby Honey

There are plenty of other honeys on my hard drive- not sure that’s a sentence that is going to keep me out of trouble- Johnny Burnett’s Honey Hush, Lee Hazelwood’s Silk ‘n’ Honey, Orange Juice’s Simply Thrilled Honey, Martha Reeves and The Vandellas (We’ve Got) Honey Love, Duke Reid’s What Makes Honey? and Prince Fattie and Hollie Cook’s Milk And Honey but this one seems to round this off the best. Spacemen 3 were into honey (of course they were). It was the opening song on their 1989 album Playing With Fire, an album I have revisited a lot earlier this year. Honey is a Pete Kember song that opens with a blast of wobble, some descending chords and plucked guitar notes. The whispered vocal arrives a minute in and everything is stretched and phased, pleasantly distorted. ‘Honey won’t you take me home tonight?’ Pete asks, ‘the night is warm and the stars are bright’. Pete’s meditation drifts on, blissfully and before fading out just before three minutes. ‘Surely there ain’t nothing we can’t do’.

Honey

To Talk In Rhyme

Let’s stay in 1987, a year that has a bad reputation as being at the height of 80s excesses, but there is plenty of gold to be found. Darklands for example…

A very simple song- a couple of chords, some fuzz, some do-do-do-do-do-doo backing vocals and William’s tale of teenage alienation.

Ten years later Primal Scream covered Darklands and did quite a job on it- murky, numb, disturbed and distorted. The Scream had bene in a hole for some time at this point and began to climb out with Vanishing Point. This cover was the B-side to the If They Move, Kill ‘Em single.

Darklands

Damage And Joy

An hour and a half in the company of The Jesus And Mary Chain is a good thing at the moment. They turned on their own brand of charm on Saturday night, sounding engaged, interested and on some sort of mission. The opening one-two-three of Amputation, April Skies and Head On set us up nicely for what followed- some hits, some album tracks and some new songs. They were ragged enough for it not to seem too drilled or professional- Jim had to speak to the audience in gap after the opener due to a technical problem with William’s sound and he ran out of things to say pretty quickly. They had three attempts at getting The Hardest Walk off the ground and at least one other song had a false start too. I like this slightly shambolic edge, it adds to the proceedings, reminds us of who they were. William’s guitar is loud in the mix, often overpowering the rest of the group except for Jim and the snare drum, and he peels off the chords and top lines from behind his mess of hair, backlighting and dry ice. Those three sounds are what I want from a Mary Chain gig- Jim’s voice, William’s guitar and some drums. Teenage Lust is heavy and dark. Darklands highlights Cherry Came Too and Nine Million Rainy Days sound brittle and menacing. Some Candy Talking is fuzzy and tense, building to a staccato end. Reverence is long and overdriven. The encore brings a mini-Psychocandy, Just Like Honey, The Living End, You Trip Me Up and Taste Of Cindy before finishing with War On Peace, another new one. This slow approach to the reunion has done them some good, not rushing in and pushing it. Making an album, by their own admission a stressful experience, and managing to remain on speaking terms shows some growth. These miserable, uncommunicative but maybe now slightly more grown up middle aged men have found a way to make it work. Long may they have the blues.

Always Sad

The new Jesus And Mary Chain album is out today, not words I necessarily thought I’d end up typing when I started this blog. I’m reasonably excited about the new album, tempered slightly by the fact that seven of the fourteen songs have been recorded and released by one Reid brother or the other in previous post-split incarnations- I’ve heard half of the album before, but still, new Mary Chain is new Mary Chain. This single from February is one of the new new ones and is good enough. Tomorrow night they’re on at Manchester Academy and I shall be in attendance. Hopefully they’ll still cut it live- they certainly did on the Psychocandy tour a couple of years ago.

Dead End Kids

A new Jesus And Mary Chain single came out last week, the first in eighteen years it is claimed. This ignores All Things Must Pass which came out in 2010 and was on a Best Of… (which in the internet age almost counts as a single). It also ignored the fact that the new single, Amputation, is a re-recording with a new name of a Jim Reid solo single from 2006. Here it is…

Dead End Kids

I liked Dead End Kids, bought it on cd single and thought it was a decent song. A typical Jim Reid three chord riff and a typically Jim Reid lyric- ‘It’s wine today, it’s piss tomorrow’, ‘fucked up girls like fucked up boys’, ‘I’m a rock ‘n’ roll amputation’. The new version has some squally feedback at the start and reverb covered vox, a dirty guitar part on the chorus. But this release should have been a genuinely new song instead of a shrug and a sense of disappointment (which is what I felt). It’s not an All For One level disappointment. A milder disappointment. Ah well, hey ho. Still, tickets for the tour in March are on sale and they were very good when they toured Psychocandy two years ago.