More about: The Jesus & Mary Chain
The brothers Reid, from the wastelands of East Kilbride, proved with the right amount of surliness and self-belief, anyone could be in a band. The poster boys for attitude over ability, they created a soundscape of angry, arty, Glaswegian youth that gave them a notoriety not even manager Alan McGee could expect when signing them to Creation Records.
Despite the riot-inducing gigs, the hostility between Jim and William Reid, the drink, the drugs and the sardonic sense of humour, it's easy to forget that The Jesus and Mary Chain created not just articulate expressions of angst and alienation but also the perfect soundtrack for when you have a huge crush on someone and you're horny and lonely.
Influenced by the easy punk and swagger of The Ramones, the magic of Phil Spector's girl group production and the originality of The Velvet Underground they took on a new template of guitar music by being a melody driven pop band hidden behind walls of feedback with the early help of Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie. Like a lot of young people, there's a vulnerability and insecurity to their lyrics; two introverts somehow masquerading "art as terrorism" according to McGee. Now, after 18 years, the band will finally be releasing another album, entitled Damage and Joy, set for release next March. To celebrate, here are 13 of their best:
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Snakedriver - Perhaps one of their most overlooked songs, Snakedriver was never included on an album, instead featuring on the soundtrack for the 1994 film, The Crow. Sleazy and bluesy, it sounded slightly different to the Jesus and Mary Chain's usual trajectory but still retained the romanticised lyrics - "Everything just passes by I thought it always would but then I kissed her".
Head On - "The way I feel tonight, Oh I could die and I wouldn't mind", perhaps best summises the dead-eyed, laconic confidence vested by Jim Reid that even the Pixie's tried their hand at covering it in 1991. The lack of their trademark feedback and focus on a synth bass and drum machine makes Head On still sound endurably fresh.
Amputation - Produced by Killing Joke co-founder Martin Glover, Amputation is the brand new release off their impending album, Damage and Joy. It's also the perfect JAMC prototype: shrouded in beloved reverb, underpinned by hazy harmonies and brought to the fore by Jim's withering delivery.
Side Walking - Released as a single in 1988, the track's menacing chug and sampled drum loop from Roxanne Shante's Roxanne Revenge mirrored their growing interest in hip hop. Toning down their heartfelt cravings, this could be watermarked as some of the most badass shit they've done.
Just Like Honey - No amount of riots or distortion or drug taking or brotherly brawling could downplay the fact that the Jesus and Mary Chain could swim the depths of emotional discomfort and make it into a glimmering pop song like no other band. Interestingly, Scarlett Johannson joined them on stage at Coachella in 2007 to perform it following it's re-discovered appeal in the film Lost in Translation.
April Skies - Their highest charting single in the UK, April Skies was a classic sickly sweet taster from their second, cleaner cut album, Darklands. It jangles but in a very different way to The Smiths and its husky drive masks JAMC's romantic tendencies.
Happy When It Rains - Another slice from the more refined Darklands, this song holds a somewhat sad yet warm romantic energy; the goth kids needed a love anthem of their own after all. It's summed up perfectly with the lyric "and we tried so hard and we looked so good and we lived our lives in black".
Blues From A Gun - Brawling its way out of Automatic, a much more barer sounding album compared to the previous two, Blues From A Gun reached number One in the US Billboard Modern Rock charts thanks to William's manic, unrestrained guitar playing.
Reverence - Reverence blasted the JAMC into the 90s with buzzing guitars and contemptuous, blasphemous lyrics with the opening line stating "I wanna die just like Jesus Christ, I wanna die on a bed of spikes". Drawing its fair share of outrage, it's a ravaging assault on the senses and a stunning gem in their back catalogue.
Some Candy Talking - Taken from the EP of the same name, it was widely misunderstood to be about heroin use, leading Radio 1 DJ Mike Smith to blacklist it from being played on the station. With draping chords and bitter pauses, the opening drumbeats are an obvious nod to Spector, setting the mantra for what the Jesus and Mary Chain would come to define.
Never Understand - The first single from the seminal Psychocandy, Never Understand is at first listen a mass of frenzied guitar skrees that reaches blistering heights, but take a more concentrated listen and the multi-layered noise makes it one Jackson Pollock of a song.
Sometimes Always - Stoned and Dethroned was created under the conception that it would be an acoustic record, which eventually wasn't quite the case. Sometimes Always, taken from the album, however was a stateside hit featuring Mazzy Star's Hope Sandoval with the lyrics narrating William and Hope's own frenetic relationship.
Upside Down - The initial demo given to Creation Records, the game changer, the song that made Alan McGee froth at the mouth with uninhibited adulation for the Reid brothers, the song that made him believe that they were gonna be the best band in the world. If Alan could find mass appeal under the white noise and the relentless drums and the vehement vocals then it was only through pure genius that the JAMC would go on to pave the way for every other shoegaze band on the planet.
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More about: The Jesus & Mary Chain