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In our 'Soundtrack of Our Lives' column in which our writers describe the personal impact of music in their lives, Anthony Strutt writes of discovering the Jesus and Mary Chain in the mid 1980s
At the time of their 1985 first album, the wonderful 'Psychocandy', the Jesus and Mary Chain consisted of brothers Jim and William Reid, Douglas Hart and Bobby Gillespie. I originally bought this album on cassette, as I did its 1987 follow-up, 'Darklands'.
The Jesus and Mary Chain were very much a heavy and fast-sounding loud feedback band, whose main influences were not as every one thought the Velvet Underground, William when he spoke to me in my 90's fanzine days told me that he had bought a faulty effects peddle and it was the sound that came from that £10 item that gave the band their raw energy. They were subsequently branded as the "godfathers of shoegaze", a movement, which along with the Cocteau Twins who also found themselves put in the scene, they were never a part of.
Jim and William both sang and wrote the songs. Bobby also fronted Primal Scream by this stage but fell in love with and joined the Jesus and Mary Chain and was as good as playing Moe Tucker drums as he was at trying very hard to sing. He was often tuneless and stole ideas left right and centre, Within a short time their ten minute sets caused riots not seen since the days of the Sex Pistols. I for one didn't want to go to a ten minute gig that turned into a riot, so sadly by the time I saw the band Bobby had left to be replaced by John Moore, who later went on to marry and divorce Sarah Nixey. A big cloud hung over the band, but if anything this was a good thing as it made them unpredictable for a while.
It was also to the tunes of 'Darklands' that I lost my virginity to my ex-wife. She refused to see the band unless I went with her because of their history. Like a lot of women, she thought William was cute. I have since interviewed Jim as well as William and found both them both interesting with a lot to say.
There has just been released 'Upside Down', a new Jesus and Mary Chain best of double CD, which featuring 44 tracks and costing a fiver you can't really go wrong with. Most fans have everything they recorded anyhow, but it includes 'All Things Must Pass', a new William track and not the George Harrison number, which is a stand out track. The Jesus and Mary Chain's six full albums, 'Psychocandy', 'Darklands', 'Automatic' from 1989, 'Honey's Dead' (1992), 'Stoned and Dethroned' (1994) and 'Munki' (1998), have been remastered once and released in America as dual discs. They are being released again as expanded versions next year, but for the time being this compilation is well put together with the right songs done in the right rather than year order. It actually works well in a compilation and certainly for me has brought back some good memories from the 1980s and 1990s.
Don't hold your breath for another reunion though. They have done it twice already. They are to me, however, a great dance band still for the Joy Division crowd.
Have a Listen:-