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Sunday 3 December 2023

Forty Minutes Of The Jesus And Mary Chain

The Reid brothers William and Jim announced their return to action last week with a new album, Glasgow Eyes (their first since the rather good Damage And Joy from 2017), a tour kicking off in Manchester in March and a new single jamcod. The video opens with a warning about strobe lights and then the hissy synth kicks in, reverb and distortion are everywhere, William plays a signature guitar riff and Jim sings and snarls, a vocal that could have been put down at almost any point between 1984 and three weeks ago.  

To coincide with this new song I thought a Bagging Area JAMC Sunday Mix was in order, one that throws in some rarities and some singles, an edit and some covers, ending at the beginning. 

Forty Minutes Of The Jesus And Mary Chain

  • Nine Million Rainy Days (Los Lopez Club Edit)
  • Snakedriver
  • Coast To Coast (Alt Take with William vocal)
  • Crackin' Up
  • The Hardest Walk
  • Head On
  • All Things Pass
  • Everything's Alright When You're Down
  • If You Gotta Go
  • You Can't Stop The Rock
  • Upside Down

Nine Million Rainy Days was on Darklands, 1987's follow up to Psychocandy, an album that got them a proper hit (April Skies) and a bigger, slightly more polished sound.This edit by Los Lopez from 2012 has a juddering synth bassline not too far from the sound Jim and William have cooked up on jamcod. 

Snakedriver was a 1992 single, a shuddering, scabrous, noisy blast of self loathing that will give your eyes a good clean out and make you feel like you've bene dragged through William's FX pedals backwards. In a good way. 

Coast To Coast was one of the highlights of 1989's Automatic, Jim, William and a drum machine, with more reports from the frontline of the USA, Jesus and Coke. At the time Automatic felt a bit flat, a bit like they didn't know what to do or where to go. Now it sounds like a great Mary Chain album. This version with William singing instead of Jim came out on the Power Of Negative Thinking box set, a rarities and B-sides release from 2008.

Crackin' Up was the lead single from the album that broke them back in 1998, Munki. A William sung song with a riff that isn't a million miles from the one in jamcod. The band broke up on stage in Los Angeles. Alcohol and sibling rivalry played their part. When the brothers re- united for Damage And Joy and recent tours they had a new set of rules. Jim had given up drinking completely and William stopped drinking on stage. 

Punk trumpeter Terry Edwards with his The Scapegoats recorded an entire EP of Mary Chain covers in 1991. He then went on to play trumpet with the band. His cover of The Hardest Walk is a blast. 

Head On was a single in November 1989 and is one of my favourite Mary Chain songs. When they reformed and played Manchester Academy a few years ago, playing Psychocandy in full, they did an encore set first, seven songs, then a brief pause and then Psychocandy. They opened with Head On. Endearingly they messed up the beginning of You Trip Me Up twice, finally getting it right on the third go. Yes, I could have included Pixies cover of this song here instead.

All Things Pass was on their 2017 comeback album Damage And Joy, made with Youth on production and containing several songs the brothers had recorded separately in the period the band were broken up. All Things Must Pass dated from 2008, a different recording done for the TV superhero series Heroes. Two chords. Fuzz. Sneering vocals. It was like they'd never been away.

Everything's Alright When You're Down was the B-side to 1987s Happy When It Rains. Three minutes of Reidian perfection dissolving into feedback. 

If You Gotta Go was on a Jim Reid solo single, Dead End Kids, released in 2006, a cover of a Bob Dylan song. After the Mary Chain ended Jim formed Freeheat with Nick Sanderson and Ben Lurie and then reverted to using his name, recruiting Loz Colbert from Ride and Phil King from Lush for a tour that included a very low key gig at Night And Day in Manchester. 

You Can't Stop The Rock was on Little Pop Rock an album by Linda Reid, Jim and William's sister, who recorded as Sister Vanilla. Both brothers contributed songs and performances separately- they weren't taking at the time. You can't Stop The Rock then re- appeared on Damage And Joy. Little Pop Rock is a good album, a hidden gem in the Reid family back catalogue. 

Upside Down was The Jesus and Mary Chain's debut single in 1984. It gave the Reid's overdriven feedback to the world and gave Alan McGee and Creation Records a kickstart. Bobby Gillespie thumps the drums, standing up. It all started here, so it seems a good place to finish this mix. 


Khayem said...

Excellent selection, Adam, including one of the best B-sides by any band, let alone JaMC.

I’ve a lot of love for Automatic.

Swanditch said...

Thank you for this mix. Great picks from a great, great band.

The Sister Vanilla record flew under a lot of radars but in my view it's a JAMC album through and through. The original Japanese issue had a different track order for some reason.

Piece of JAMC trivia that puzzles me is that Karen Parker never gets any love for her vocals on Just Like Honey - she is the keystone of that track. Where is she now?