SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG(s) : #159 : THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN

From wiki:-

“Never Understand” is the first single from the Scottish alternative rock band The Jesus and Mary Chain’s debut album Psychocandy. It was the band’s first release on Blanco y Negro Records and was released through them in February 1985. The song was written by William Reid and Jim Reid, and was produced by The Jesus and Mary Chain. It is considered influential for its use of guitar feedback.

Here’s the tracks from the 12″ version. It includes a rather splendid and sweary cover of a song by Subway Sect, one that I’ve been lucky enough to have heard sung by Vic Godard in recent years:-

mp3 : The Jesus and Mary Chain – Never Understand
mp3 : The Jesus and Mary Chain – Suck
mp3 : The Jesus and Mary Chain – Ambition

I still love SWC’s description of the single as recounted when he pulled together an ICA back in November 2016:-

I don’t know if you’ve ever been chased, or ever felt like you were going to be chased, but one night I was listening to this whilst walking back from Our Price Girls house. It was about midnight and for some reason, this song utterly freaked me out. I think on reflection it was the opening bit, the frenzied squalling wall of screeching feedback sounds exactly like the sort of noise an axe wielding maniac out on a midnight killing spree makes, and frankly that makes its utterly compelling and such a twisted slice of genius.

JC

I SAW THE LIGHT

The Jesus and Mary Chain emerged blinking and battling into the sunlight at a period when I temporarily stopped caring so muc about music to an extent that I got very cynical about things, genuinely believing that there would be very little to emerge in the following years that would thrill or excite, far less sound unlike anything that had come before. I was 25 years old and my pessimism/doom’n’gloom turned out to be well wide of the mark, as I hope I have proved on many occasions through postings on this little corner of t’internet.

My thoughts on the JAMC were clouded by the fact that the noises coming out of the speakers were just a variation on the shock of punk rock, taking the sacred cow of the Velvet Underground who had been lauded by so many of the indie bands on the 80s and throwing some feedback on top. The antics of the stage performances, where fights and riots would be instigated from a ‘couldn’t give a fuck’ attitude seemed no different or more confrontational than that of The Birthday Party who themselves had grown up and subsequently grown weary of it, and therefore it was only a matter of time before the Brothers Reid did similar.

I didn’t mind some of the songs I was hearing but not enough to make me rush out and buy anything….until the day I was exposed to a b-side and a cover version at that:-

mp3 : The Jesus and Mary Chain – Surfin’ USA

The Beach Boys were, and still are, a band that I ever quite ‘got’. The 80s were a particularly annoying time for me as so many journos from that period were fond of wanking themselves into a frenzy over Pet Sounds being the greatest album of all time. I’ve listened to that album in my teens, 20s, 30s and 40s and never once been remotely impressed with it. Hearing this wonderfully energetic and irreverent take on the song, not to mention the sampling of the religious nutters at its end, at a period in history when there were some bad bad people on the right (and on the rise) in the land of the free, made me smile and made me take a liking to the JAMC.

A few weeks later, I got my hands on the 12” single on which it had appeared. This was the era when vinyl didn’t sell out instantly and you could find copies of singles hanging around the shelves many months later. It was my first exposure to this:-

mp3 : The Jesus and Mary Chain – Darklands

Hadn’t until now apprecaited that they made such great pop singles, tuneful and memorable and at exactly the sort of pace and tempo that so often fitted my mood.  The five minutes that converted me.

Many years later, a former member of JAMC offered his band’s take on it….and in doing so made it sound like one of his own:-

mp3 : Primal Scream – Darklands

JC

OVERDOSING ON COVER VERSIONS (2)

All the greats eventually get the full-blooded cover version treatment with singers and bands queing up to pay tribute to those who greatly influenced them. The late Leonard Cohen has had his songs covered more than most, including various compilation LPs over the years which have been commercially released or given away free with music magazines. There’s even been specially curated gigs at which some of the great and good have appeared on stage to pay tribute.

So many tracks to choose from, but I’ve gone for one which, in its original recording, is not much more than a gravelled voice and some backing oohs and aahs over a toy synthesiser with its cheap drum pattern:-

mp3 : Leonard Cohen – Tower of Song

The opposite tack was taken by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds who, in a drink and drug fuelled frenzy one day in a studio, eventually cut what became an infamous 33 minute version of the track in which all sorts of musical genres are eventually thrown in. It’s not for the faint hearted:-

mp3 : Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Tower of Song (full length)

An edited version was made available for inclusion of the tribute/compilation album I’m Your Fan, released in 1991:-

mp3 : Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Tower of Song (album version)

Here’s two more versions worth giving a listen:-

mp3 : Lloyd Cole – Tower of Song
mp3 : Martha Wainwright – Tower of Song

And finally, the daddy of them all in which Lenny C is given the shoegaze treatment:-

mp3 : The Jesus & Mary Chain – Tower of Song

Outstanding.

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #94 : THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN

A GUEST POSTING FROM S-WC

Hiya mate – seven weeks in the writing, started at home, finished in the waiting room of a dentists.

An Imaginary Compilation – The Jesus and Mary Chain

“That’s going to take me for ever, stupid bloody 11th song rule, who’s stupid idea was that?”

I’ll tell you who’s stupid idea it was, mine, and I’ll tell you why the choice is going to take for ever in a bit, but first – let me tell you why we are Eynesbury in Cambridgeshire and have just been interviewed on local radio by the Cambridgeshire version of Simon Bates.

Every year around August, Badger picks a team who have entered this year FA Cup. We then follow that teams results and then follow them or whoever beats them all the way to Wembley Final We also try and go and watch a couple of the matches. Now usually we do Round One and Round Three, as we hope to see some Giantkilling Adventures.

This year just for larks we have decided to go and see some ‘Grassroots Football’, folks, its FA Cup Qualifying Round Three and we are two of about 120 people who are nicely spread out around ground watching Eynesbury Rovers vs Sutton Coldfield Town in Mid September.

Eynesbury is in Cambridgeshire, we’ve driven for four hours to get here and for some reason this has bemused the guy on the gate at the ground, when he remarks that he hadn’t seen us here before. “You’ve done what…You daft buggers”

Then he turns to a fat bloke wearing a 70s style jacket – which I think was actually a jacket he bought in 1978 – and shouts (literally shouts, despite porky being about five foot away – porky is holding a can of coke and bacon sarnie as it happens) .

“Here Roger, come and listen to what these two lads have done” – the fact he called us lads, shows how old he was.

So Roger ambles over, turns out Roger works for the local radio and decides that he wants to interview us because it would make a nice story. So after a four hour journey and some twenty five minutes before kick off, Badger and I are sitting in the ‘press box’ of this eighth tier football club eating their biscuits and drinking their tea whilst the radio guy asks us lame questions about our journey from Devon. He then gives us a Black Cat Radio car sticker and Badger swears he said ‘Keep on rocking’ before waving us on our way – seriously, it really was like travelling back to the late 1970s.

The game is terrible, I mean awful, Sutton Coldfield romp home 3 – 1 but to be honest if Badger and I had randomly picked a bunch of lads from pub around the corner, I think we could have given them a good game. Sutton Coldfield Town become our next FA Cup team (as it happens we’ve progressed a bit more – the First round is coming up and our team is now Dartford – a town in Kent, and as such I am supposed to despise them, because as a Gillingham fan I grew up with burly heavily tattooed blokes often telling me – ‘There is only one team in Kent’) and we slowly make our way back to the car park which is some two miles from the ground (behind the pub where we had lunch).

Now, the 11th track, we decided this time to not start the music until pretty late on, the rule we added was that nothing played on the motorway counted, so on the motorways we stuck the radio on and on local roads reverted back to the iPod – Badger’s iPod for what it worth, still filled with Radio 2 fodder that ‘he keeps forgetting to remove’.

So it arrives on the A420 just outside Oxford and it’s the Jesus and Mary Chain, one of the greatest bands of all time. Its bloody impossible and so that is why some seven weeks later I have finally finished the thing, but I’m still not happy with it – and no doubt there is a load of stuff that I could have put in that I didn’t. So someone needs to do a Volume II please. I’ll also add that ‘Psychocandy’ is one of greatest records ever made, and it was really hard to not just send JC that in a jumbled up order. I’ve also tried to avoid the singles, but that in itself was so difficult.

I’ll also say that back in 1990 I managed to get the entire school banned from sitting on the back row of the school lecture theatre because I scrawled into the table there, ‘The Jesus and Mary Chain fucking rock”. That ban lasted twenty years until they refurbished the block containing the lecture theatre.

I’ll spare you anymore of my wittering because the music starting and that is far more important.

Side One

Just Like Honey from ‘Psychocandy’ (1985)

This is their quintessential track, and the perfect place to start if you are new to the band – and if you are new to the band, WHERE THE FUCK HAVE YOU BEEN? ‘Just Like Honey’ is full of languid vocals almost definitely about sex, swaths of fuzz, an occasional drumbeat here and there, but its lovely and laid-back and for a change, catchy. Unlike…

Never Understand from ‘Psychocandy’ (1985)

I don’t know if you’ve ever been chased, or ever felt like you were going to be chased, but one night I wasn’t listening to this whilst walking back from Our Price Girls house. It was about midnight and for some reason, this song utterly freaked me out. I think on reflection it was the opening bit, the frenzied squalling wall of screeching feedback sounds exactly like the sort of noise an axe wielding maniac out on a midnight killing spree makes, and frankly that makes its utterly compelling and such a twisted slice of genius.

Everythings Alright, When You’re Down from ‘Barbed Wire Kisses’ LP (1991)

The first of a couple of B Sides that I found impossible to leave out, I love this for three reasons, firstly it was Our Price Girls favourite JAMC song – (did I mention she loved this band?), secondly, at times the blizzard of feedback and screaming noise could be distracting and so when tracks like this appeared you appreciated them even more and thirdly, once whilst waiting for a bus just outside Godalming I found myself singing along to this at a bus stop, and get an odd look from the old lady who had just arrived when I sang the ‘Fuck me now’ bit.

Nine Million Rainy Days from ‘Darklands’ LP (1987)

“Nine million rainy days have swept across my eyes thinking of you, and this room becomes a shrine thinking of you, and as far as I can tell, I’m being dragged from here to hell.” Yup, they were a cheery lot the Marychain. ‘Darklands’ is a very different album to ‘Psychocandy’ its melodic instead of violently caustic for a start.

Some Candy Talking from ‘Some Candy Talking’ EP (1987)

This was banned by the BBC I think on its release because of the ‘obvious’ drug references, which comes as a surprise to me because the songs clearly about those little candy cigarettes you can get from the sweet shop and considering how much the BBC played and promoted ‘Pass the Dutchie’ by Musical Youth I’m surprised they banned anything.

Still.

Its also worth checking out the two B Sides to this EP as well – the first is a sweet little tune called ‘Psychocandy’ and the second is called ‘Hit’. (I’ve tagged them on the bottom) – but the recording of ‘Psychocandy’ is shagged slightly because I recorded it direct from my battered 7” version. For me these two tracks show the bridge between Psychocandy (the album) and Darklands perfectly.

Side Two

‘Happy When It Rains’ from ‘Darklands’ (1987)

More rain, but this time the band are a bit happier and as it happens, this is my favourite JAMC track. Its my favourite for one single reason, once in 1992 in the pouring rain outside the Army and Navy pub in Rainham, Kent, Our Price Girl gave me the best kiss of my life – at the time at least – and then sang this to me sweetly in my ear as the rain dripped off our hair. We then walked three miles, soaked to the skin hand in hand and hardly said a word, because frankly she said it all.

‘Reverence’ from ‘Honey’s Dead’ (1992)

Sorry its another single, its only the fourth, I’ll try not to include any more, but this was the song that bought a whole new audience to the Marychain, again the lyrics were controversial and again the BBC refused by and large to play it, despite there being a ‘Radio Mix’ as well. This is a tremendous record all guitars, crunching drums and sneering. Its impossible not to love it.

‘Boysfriends Dead’ from ‘You Trip Me Up’ Single (1987)

Opening line ‘C___, Fuck!’

Some people say that the Marychain did this sort of thing to be deliberately provocative and to show but they were angry but I think on reflection it was weariness and frustration. Its songs like this that give us fans that were too young to witness the early chaotic violent gigs, some impression as to what they actually sounded like.

‘Guitarman’ from ‘Speed of Sound’ (1994)

I wanted to include a cover version, simply because the Marychain did a few, mainly old Blues rock numbers from the 60s, and this I think was the best one. I also recommend their version of ‘Little Red Rooster’ because the absolutely crush it, but for me the bit where Reid goes ‘Show ‘em sonnnn’ is bloody marvellous.

‘April Skies’ from ‘Darklands’ (1987)

I went this because it’s the best song on ‘Darklands’ its not my favourite but it’s the stand out moment on the album although the natural closer ‘About You’ runs it close. What ‘April Skies’ showed us was that the Marychain were not about to self combust (not yet anyway) and that behind the hair , the fuzz and the attitude was a band that actually loved proper songs.

Crikey that’s quite a long piece, sorry guys, but you know it’s the Jesus and Mary Chain, its worth it.

S-WC

Bonus tracks*

Pyschocandy

Hit

*recorded from JC’s vinyl copy of the single as it is less shagged than S-WC’s.

FROM THE SOUTH-WEST CORRESPONDENT..WHAT’S IN YOUR BOX (32)

index

index2

The Shoebox of Delights – #4a and 4b
The JBO Perspective 1988-1998/Two Gallants – What The Toll Tells

This week, I have cheated slightly, normally I just select the CD at the top of the pile – the order of the pile, incidentally changes on a daily basis, as my daughter likes to ‘look at the CD’s’ – by ‘look at’ she means throw around the room and use as plates for her teddies various tea parties.

I then try and somehow crow bar in a story from my past and tenuously (really tenuously) connect it to the CD.  Top of the pile this week was ‘What the Toll Tells’ by country rock duo Two Gallants – now much as I love them and this CD, the (only) story I can connect to it makes me angry, to the point where if I talk about it too much I’ll be in a bad mood all day…….

I was given that CD by a bloke called Gareth outside Derby County’s football stadium in March 2006. I used to be good mates with Gareth but one night in 2011 he got drunk on a night out in Exeter – later than evening as we returned to my house (he was staying in the spare room as he lived some distance away) and we all retired for the night. About 2am – Gareth walked into the marital suite of the house and asked me and the wife if we fancied a threesome. He was stark bollock naked and he then vomited on the carpet.  Before that moment I was interested.

I’m joking.

He was a Derby County fan, and to misquote the esteemed journalist Martin Kelner, I wasn’t about to interrupt 35 years of unblemished heterosexuality. Also he was dog ugly, when the Lord gave out looks, poor Gareth was cleaning the toilet. He left the house about seven minutes later. I haven’t seen him since – I did get a Facebook Friend Request off him about two years ago, but I ignored it. That probably makes me a bad person.

mp3 : Two Gallants – Las Cruces Jail

Other than this esteemed blog, one of my favourite places on the Internet is over at Drew’s place ‘Across the Kitchen Table’.

I love his perspective on life (and his utter hatred of ‘fucking decorating’) and the selection of music is terrific. If you haven’t checked it out – you can follow the link from T(n)VV.

One of the best features of the blog has been the series ‘It’s Friday….Let’s Dance’ – where every Friday, Drew selects a piece of classic dance music accompanied by a picture of a nubile young lady (or more often ladies) grooving. When you get to a certain age, little things like this can make your day. I think I have downloaded nearly track this year from the ‘Its Friday’ series – they sit in my own iPod in a Playlist simply called ‘Friday…’

I hope I am right when I say that Drew is a fan of the Junior Boy’s Own label – recently his blog featured a series of posts about some 12” records released on Boys Own – and it was excellent and contained some wonderful music. The CD second from bottom of the pile today – is ‘JBO – A perspective 1988 – 1998’ so I have picked that CD largely so I can wax lyrical about how good it and the label itself is – but also as a nod in Drew’s direction. Hope that is ok?

The album is not only a comprehensive selection (over two hours worth!) of JBO releases, it’s also a definitive collection of what was best about the ’80s-90s so far as dance and electronic music goes. Some of the absolute classics included on the disc are New Order’s “Everything’s Gone Green,” My Bloody Valentine’s “Soon,” The Chemical Brothers’ “Song to the Siren”, “Loaded” by Primal Scream and Underworld’s “Moaner.” It also includes some forgotten treasures such as ‘Fallen’ by One Dove and ‘Naked and Ashamed’ by Dylan Rhymes –on the negative side it includes at least one track by Simply Red – but that my friends is what the skip button was invented for. JBO was the label that took a lot of risks when they first started out and ended up being right at the front of an entire musical movement.

Enjoy

mp3 : U2 – Salome (Zooromancer Mix)
mp3 : Dylan Rhymes – Naked and Ashamed
mp3 : Bjork – Human Behaviour (Underworld Mix)
mp3 : One Dove – Fallen

S-WC

JC adds…………..

(1) I’m delighted that S-WC is appreciative of Drew’s work. His blog is one of the best and most original out there and I’m delighted that over the years, given we have some common tastes in fine music, we have been able to hook up at gigs and over the occasional social pint. He’s a top bloke….and I can vouch that he makes a very fine pasta.

(2) I love how the titles of the four tracks picked out from the JBO compilation can be linked to the tale told above

(3) I’ll say it….cos I know some of you will be thinking it and wondering if you’d get away with asking the question…..what would the answer have been if it had been OPG making the offer and not Gareth…..

 

FROM THE SOUTH-WEST CORRESPONDENT..WHAT’S IN YOUR BOX (31)

The Shoebox of Delights – #3
The Jesus and Mary Chain – Sometime Always

The-Jesus-And-Mary-Chain-Sometimes-Always
It is nearly Easter 1994 and it is the day of my driving test. I am shitting it – I have no idea why I am doing my test – I can’t parallel park, my three point turn is more like a seventeen point turn and whilst practising bay parking in my Grandad’s Ford Escort I have hit a wall and a shopping trolley. The shopping trolley wasn’t even in the bay that I was reversing into. I am so going to fail. To make this worse it’s raining, in fact it’s absolutely effing it down.

I sit in my Grandads car waiting to go in – he looks at me and says “you’ll be fine, its easy” – he was a man of few words my grandad – he told me once that when he passed his driving test in 1963 that all he had to do was drive between two cones and the reverse back through and stick an arm out of the window. Because of this he was a lousy driver, I mean him no disrespect when I say that there an undiscovered tribes in the Amazon with no comprehension of cars, roads, traffic cones or clutch control that could drive better than him. In the thirty years he’d been driving, I think he’d changed gear correctly about twice, you could hear him coming down the road because of the load crunch of gears when he slowed down from third to second. He also refused to drive on motorways so it took literally for ever to get to some places, but he’d never had an accident, I mean he’d caused several thousand, but that’s not the point – right?

He switched the radio on – I think he wanted to get the result of the 1230 race at Doncaster – but instead he got rock music. I’d changed the channel whilst reverse parking in the car park at Tesco earlier in the day. The song that came on was ‘Happy when it Rains’ by Jesus and Mary Chain. I look out the window as the rain lashes down on the car. For the first and only time, I hear my Grandad say the F word followed by the words ‘load’ ‘of’ ‘noisy’ and ‘rubbish’. Then I hear the familiar sound of static and then the radio station he wanted. His sudden outburst had strangely relaxed me and I burst out laughing. I’d better get inside I said. “I’ll wait here, you’ll only be five minutes” he said utterly convinced that I was doing the same test as him. Although I still think I would fail that. As I get the door I see him rip up a small betting slip that he taken out of his blazer pockets (incidentally what is it with old chaps and blazers…?), I always wanted to hear his explanation to my Nan as to where her housekeeping money had gone.

Remarkably I passed. For the only time in my life – I managed to do a parallel park without driving backwards and forwards twenty times to get the angle right. My three point was exactly that. My emergency stop was so good it sent the instructors clipboard flying into his lap. I even did an additional emergency stop when the tractor appeared out of nowhere – this was a built up area in the middle of the Medway Towns, I have no idea what the tractor was doing there.

As I drove back into the test centre – “just park anywhere” the instructor says. I deliberately park next to Grandad’s car and give him a wave as I do so. He is asleep. Of course he is. I once found a hip flask full of whiskey in his glove box whilst looking for a pen. He always said it was for medicinal purposes.

The instructor looks at me – and he says “ I know you from somewhere”. Shit. I think. He looks at my name on his pad. Shit, I think again, I have just remembered where I know this bloke from. In all the worry about having the test, I realised that I have barely given the guy a look. He lives next door to Our Price Girl. I curse my luck – I mean what are the chances of that? I have met him twice. The first time was at a barbecue at her house for her Dad’s 45th birthday about eighteen months ago. The second time was when he caught me nipping out the backdoor at 6.30am as I was late for my morning job at a newsagents. That was three days ago. I know. I know.

I had no idea he was a driving test examiner. I thought he was a copper.

It took me about a week to phone her after the Green Day incident, I had tickets to see Pavement in London at the Town and Country Club – the girl I was intended to take – let’s call her Levellers Girl – couldn’t come – and I was going to give the ticket to mate, but changed my mind – or rather my loins changed it for me. So I asked Our Price Girl. She said yes straight away.

The gig was on the last day of February and it snowed. We spent most of the train ride up talking and then we danced (me badly, her gracefully, wonderfully) to our/my favourite band and spent the train ride home doing things on trains that were if it rush hour would have got us arrested (leaning out window, smoking that sort of thing). So we were back together. Sort of. It wasn’t official . Hence me sneaking out the back door, pants in hand at 6.30am. For now.

“Are you Dave’s son?” the voice said next to me, shaking me out of my (pleasant) memory. Now, my Dad is called Dave – so I said yes. “ I think I played football with him. Was he a goalkeeper?”. My dad played in goal for Gillingham – briefly – I’ll add – he gave it up because he preferred smoking to training – true story. Yes, I said again. That’s his dad sitting asleep in that car over there. “Frank” he said. Yes, I said, struggling to comprehend what the fuck was happening. Our Price Girl’s next door neighbour knows my entire family – how, what,why?

He embraced my Grandad like a long lost uncle. It was weird. I never asked him if he was Our Price Girl’s neighbour – I mean he definitely was – and as it happens I only went to her house once more and I didn’t leave through the back door.

Our Price Girl bought me this CD – as a late birthday present, it came out on July 1994, just before their new album ‘Stoned and Dethroned’. We’d spent a week on the Norfolk Broads and she bought it from a branch of Our Price in Norwich.

mp3 : The Jesus & Mary Chain – Sometimes Always
mp3 : The Jesus & Mary Chain – The Perfect Crime
mp3 : The Jesus & Mary Chain – Little Stars
mp3 : The Jesus & Mary Chain – Drop Re-Recorded

I played it constantly – she told me that the song reminded her of me and her particularly the ‘You ran away’ bit. I can sort of see what she meant. Exactly two weeks later, we were over. Again.

S-WC

JC adds…

a belated image to round off this piece.  It’s based on Dirk thinking out loud in the comments section and Badgerman later confirming something……
img-hope-sandoval_174552601096

As close as you’ll get to a photo of Our Price Girl.

NEXT YEAR’S NOSTALGIA FEST (Part 36 of 48)

R-1098394-1191873443.jpeg

Continuing with the run of bands that I’m surprised to see on CD86.

I don’t think too many readers will need any lessons on the history and timeline of The Jesus and Mary Chain. If you do, then I’ll refer you to this wiki page which is extremely detailed and comprehensive.

I’m assuming that Bob Stanley has included the boys from East Kilbride (the same town as Roddy Frame was raised) on the basis that they would go on to be the best known and among the most sustainable indie bands to emerge from the era in question with all sorts of celebrity fans the world over. I don’t think anyone who watched the continual chaos and violence around the early gigs, combined with a total ‘fuck you’ attitude from the band members would ever have imagined they would enjoy such a long and incredibly successful and rewarding career in the music industry.

CD86 contains Upside Down, the debut single which actually came out on Creation Records in November 1984 when the line-up was Jim Reid (vocals), William Reid (guitar), Douglas Hart (bass) and Murray Dalglish (drums).  The first 1.000 copies were in black with red writing and included a contact address for the band. and were printed by future band drummer and all-round superstar Bobby Gillespie. Later initial versions had a multitude of colours (red, yellow, blue or pink) but no contact address; nor where they printed by Bobby.  Such was the demand for the single that Creation re-released in it 1985 with a totally different sleeve but with the same b-side, a cover of a Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd number:-

mp3 : The Jesus and Mary Chain – Upside Down
mp3 : The Jesus and Mary Chain – Vegetable Man

Enjoy