And It Was Bliss

We had to run around in the car yesterday doing odds and ends pre-France holiday and rifling through the cd compartment I found The Jesus and Mary Chain’s 1992 album Honey’s Dead. So I stuck it in and played it. The kids, also in the car, were delighted obviously.

There was an interview in Melody Maker when the lp was released where the Reid brothers admitted that they felt they’d almost been made obsolete by Madchester and that Honey’s Dead was a shot at reinvention and certainly some of the songs here have an early 90s sheen and the drums are looser than before. The title itself refers to killing off Honey, a trademark of the early years. Opener and leading single Reverence has never been my favourite JAMC song, despite its ominous rumble and controversial lyrics (banned by the Beeb). It was always good live but I can skip it on cd. Far Gone And Out is a good radio song. Teenage Lust is a decent approximation of its title. I’ve always liked Rollercoaster (resurrected and re-recorded from the four way tour with Blur, MBV and Dinosaur Jr). There’s a smattering of good album tracks as well. But this sounded stunning. I’ve always loved this song but I could nearly hear it with new ears yesterday.

Almost Gold must have been written the day William woke up in a good mood (or the day after he discovered ecstasy), a love song with hardly any self loathing or alienation, wide eyed and up and full of bliss.

‘I couldn’t give you more than this
I was born and it was bliss
I have died for a thousand years
Tasted salt of a thousand tears
And your kiss was almost gold’

Some Feedback

The Jesus And Mary Chain came on stage last night and announced they would play the encore first, then go off for a few minutes and return to play Psychocandy. They then launched into April Skies, Head On and Some Candy Talking, all crystal clear and fine, William’s guitar twice as loud as everything else put together, the occasional missed note or out of tune string not mattering a jot. Two more songs later they ramped up the noise with an massive version of Reverence. Two minutes and a bit after that they were off- having played Upside Down, loud and drenched in squealing feedback.

A brief public information film from the early 60s projected onto the stage wall advertised the pleasures of moving to East Kilbride and they reappeared with Just Like Honey. Then we got the rest of Psychocandy. The projections (biker gangs, Super 8 home video footage), strobes and dry ice splashed all over the stage, added some visual drama. There isn’t much to look at with The Mary Chain- five middle aged men dressed in black not moving much, apart from Jim occasionally lifting the mic stand up. At some reunion gigs you get a communion between band and audience, a mass singalong, arms around shoulders, joy at hearing songs you thought you’d never hear live again, beery good times, nostalgia. The Screamadelica shows were a joyous celebration. Not here. Psychocandy is an album about alienation and while the audience weren’t alienated, we stood and watched, apart from some sporadic moshing down the front. This was noise, feedback, earsplittingly loud, with Jim’s vocals and the melodies sneaking through the distortion, like in You Trip Me Up. The Living End and The Hardest Walk, garage riffs with a wall of ringing noise. As the band left the stage, William’s guitar bleeding loudly against his amp, Game Over, in 80s video game graphics, flashed up and down the back wall. Still alive, still kicking. Game Over.

Paris, Upside Down, a few nights ago.

Just Like Honey

Tonight, six months after paying for the tickets, I’m going to see the Jesus And Mary Chain play live, Psychocandy and related songs, at Manchester Academy. It’s twenty-nine years since Jim and William Reid released the album, one of the key albums of underground British ‘rock’ (rock seems like the wrong word somehow- this isn’t rock, it’s shattering glass or something similar). I’ve been looking forward to this and while it can’t replicate mid-80s JAMC and I’m not sure I’m that much in favour of bands playing albums in their entirety (just play what you want, or play all the hits)- I love ’em.

Grapples With The Earth With Her Fingers

I was planning to post this anyway and happily reader Gentle Ben pointed it out in the comment box on Monday’s Sugarcubes remix post. Jim and William Reid also remixed Birthday, three times in fact (labelled Christmas Eve Mix, Christmas day Mix and Christmas Present Mix). They kept Bjork’s vocal and added buzzing guitars, dropping in and out in bursts, some ‘hey-hey-hey-hey’ backing vocals and a spoken word part. And some feedback. The Justin Robertson remix and these Jesus And Mary Chain ones show what good remixing should do- get the source material and take it somewhere else. All three versions are good.

On the original 1988 vinyl release these Mary Chain mixes were double grooved so depending on whether you hit one groove or the other you got one version or another. The third was on the B-side with a live song. The eight track ep, released in 1992, plays conventionally and has the Robertson mixes, Tony D remixes and The Sugarcubes demo version. Just so you know.

Birthday (Christmas Eve Mix)

Jesus Creation

‘The sun comes up another day begins

And I don’t even worry ’bout the state I’m in’
The Jesus and Mary Chain have appeared here several time before. I make no apologies for that. They’re one of the best bands ever. From the Creation roster you can make claims for Primal Scream (and I’d agree with you about several/many of their records), claims for My Bloody Valentine (and I’d concede some points there too), claims for other minor players (The Loft, The Weather Prophets, The Pastels, The Telescopes, The House Of Love say) and claims for Oasis (if you’re an idiot), but Jim and William Reid’s feedback drenched pop makes them the original and archetypal Creation band, even if not actually many of their records came out on Creation. And they may only have written one song but it’s a great, great song.

This is from an October 1984 Peel Session as played by the original JAMC line up of the Reids, bassist Douglas Hart and ‘drummer’ Bobby Gillespie. The Peel Session also featured In A Hole, You Trip Me Up and Taste The Floor. Never Understand would become their second single.

Record Company Compilation Album Blues

Apparently there’s a new Jesus And Mary Chain compilation out. I haven’t so far been bothered to look for it, not even on the internet. I read somewhere it contains the studio version of this song, All Things Must Pass, the only song they’ve released since reforming two years ago. Do I want to spend over a tenner on a compilation album containing, in all likelihood, 98% songs I already own on several formats?
This is All Things Must Pass (not a George Harrison cover) ripped from a perfomance on an American tv show a year or two back. What does it sound like? The Jesus And Mary Chain of course.


Lazycame (William Reid) ‘K To Be Lost’

William Reid split up The Jesus And Mary Chain live on stage in America in 1998. Given the nature of the brother’s relationship and their ongoing love affair with feedback and booze, it’s remarkable they lasted that long really. I couldn’t do 15 years in a band, drunk and whatever else, with earsplitting volume night after night with any of my brothers without blood being spilt. William retreated into a solo project called Lazycame, releasing an album called Finbegin and a couple of singles. The album was passed on by Alan McGee, partly because William wanted the cover to feature a picture of himself with a hard-on. McGee must have said no partly because of the music though. It’s the most unfocussed, patchy, lo-fi, scatty, scratchy, irritating, and almost unlistenable records I’ve got or ever heard. At times you want to shout at the stereo ‘Fer fuck’s sake man, tune the guitar and play a song’. It goes on for ages, stopping and starting, out-of-tune, drifting in and out. One man with a tape recorder, stoned, pressing record, then forgetting what he’s supposed to be doing. I quite like it. Someone at Amazon says ‘It’s not for everyone’- it’s probably really not for anyone.

However William could still get it together when he wanted to. This song K To Be Lost (as in, it’s OK to be lost, kind of a mission statement) is a cracker, so good it turned up in slightly more polished form on the Sister Vanilla album. It’s still gorgeously lo-fi, with typical guitars, cheap drum machine and loopy keyboards, but he pulls it all together. I’ve just read that last sentence back- I mean it all in a good way.

When they reformed a couple of years back, some wag suggested they had to do it due to Jim’s battle with his hairline and William’s battle with his waistline. They carried it off though- shades and black clothes can do wonders for the middle aged indie rockstar.

k to be lost.mp3