published: 16 /
In the latest in our new 'Re :View' series, in which we look back upon albums that we feel deserve re-evaluation, Olga Sladeckova reflects upon the Jesus and Mary Chain's underacknowledged masterpiece, 'Stoned and Dethroned'
I love the Jesus and Mary Chain's 'Darklands'. There is so much life and energy on those songs despite their dark nature. Although they are often about death, they are also full of life and hope.
I also love 'Psychocandy', but I'm sure we all do.
There is another of the Jesus and Mary Chain's albums that is, however, well less known, but which I believe is equal to 'Darklands' and 'Psychocandy'. It is 'Stoned & Dethroned'.
'Stoned & Dethroned' is possibly the most simple and seemingly the most obvious album that the Reid Brothers recorded. The truth, however. is that the more you listen to it and penetrate into it the more deep you will find it. Out of all their albums, it seems to be the one that has been thought through the most.
The album came out in 1994. At that time the Mary Chain were going through a personal bad patch and were also beginning to wane in popularity and this is something that shines through in the album very clearly. Even the title of the album 'Stoned & Dethroned', which was chosen by Jim Reid, suggests this.
Most of the songs were written by his brother William and are very dark. You know how you sometimes pick an album to listen to when you are down and want to feel better or when you just need to comfort youself? This is the one of those albums. It won't drag you out of depression and expose you to blinding sunlight. It allows you to go on feeling black, but also offers you some comfort and takes some of the pain away.
'Dirty Water', the first track on the album and also one of its most outstanding songs, sets an appropriate tone for the whole album. In fact, the lyric says it itself:
"Fuck with me, and I'll fuck with you
Isn't that what we're supposed to do
Kick me down and I will kick you too
Isn't that what we're supposed to do"
Don't get the wrong impression though that 'Stoned & Dethroned' is a constantly bleak album. The third track, 'Sometimes Always', featuring Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star on lead vocals, has a much more positive tune. The following 'Come On' and Between Us' are similarly more up-beat.
'Stoned & Dethroned', like 'Darklands', however, takes much of its inspiration from death.
"Well you won't see it coming
Well you won't feel it coming
and you won't know it's coming
till it comes"
"And there's no need in money
And there's no need in running
and there's no need for nothing
when it comes"
Sings William devotedly on 'Never Saw It Coming'.
'God Help Me' is probably the closest of all the 17 tracks on the album to death. It's actually sung by Shane McGowan of the Pogues, not that you would ever know it.
"God help me through this day
God please help me through this day
I'm blind can't see the way
God please help me through this day"...
"I can't take it
I just can't take it anymore"...
"I've been waiting long time
I've been waiting too long
To see the light"
It again was written by William. I read an interview that William gave, after 'Stoned & Dethroned' came out in which he said "I don't want to seem like the only thing that goes through my mind is death and dying. But it does intrigue me. It amazes me that everybody is going to die and yet the subject is almost taboo. I've been at parties and people are talking about this and that, and I'll be bringing up the subject and all of a sudden, I'm the party pooper, and I realise nobody wants to talk about it. I do." William's amazement might that no one wants to talk about Death might make you laugh, but at the same time you have to admit he has got a point.
One can't investigate 'Stoned & Dethroned' without looking at its artwork. It shows a landscape with a road in the centre going somewhere far away that you can't see the end of. It is obvious there must an end to the road, but it's all blurred and out of site. Isn't that like life itself?
It would not be fair to describe 'Stoned & Dethroned' as a depressing album all the way through, but is certainly a record that you appreciate the most listening on your own and on a dark night.
Have a Listen:-