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to live and live again…The Jesus and Mary Chain return. July 15, 2007

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Music.
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It’s the weekend, so who cares about politics…okay, it’s that hiatus in between Saturday night and the arrival of Sunday newspapers (and arguably the only time I would purchase the Daily Mail for a certain CD. Yeah, advertising works). Anyhow, prior to ensuring The Artist Currently Known as Prince earns his…what…quarter of a million or whatever, I was amazed to discover the line up for the Electric Picnic included these guys…

…Yes, eight years after breaking up the Jesus and Mary Chain have reformed. Now, as someone on YouTube noted the song is a bit ‘vanilla’, but it is a song. Curious though because only last year or the year before, as I recall, Jim Reid was trekking around with his own band and declining invitations to play JAMC songs with quips about ‘that being the past’.

Clearly not.

I saw them around 1987, playing the SFX as I recall. Wave after wave of sound from the stage, suitably detached manner and a couple of anonymous hired hands on other instruments. Oh yeah, and unfeasibly distressed hair…

Years later I was talking to Binttii from Princess Tinymeat, long after that particular outfit folded (and now I think about it they did a fairly dab hand at that goth/noise crossover too) and he told me that the JAMC were just pale Velvet Underground copyists. Well…perhaps. I think they were reaching further back than the Velvets into the late 1950s and 1960s. And there was something about the range of their references, new wave, punk, rock and roll, funk and popular culture which was broader than the Velvets, albeit in the context of the times not quite as innovative. Sure, they were enormously flawed. After all, when you have one great idea it can be very difficult to come up with another great idea. Feedback and the Beach Boys. Where does one go next?

After their first album Psychocandy in 1985 they tried more melodic stylings on Darklands. Then they went back to a sort of motorik sound on Automatic. Later they tried a slightly more melodic take on Psychocandy with Honey’s Dead in 1992.

But after that it all became a bit of a mess. Great tracks jostled for space with not so great tracks. In a bid to do something, anything, different we had their acoustic ‘country’ album, a plethora of compilations, then an EP which sought to rekindle the energy of Psychocandy. Their last album, released in 1998, was Munki, something akin to a nervous breakdown set to music. There was still some powerful stuff there, but overall it sounded jaded, skeletal song structures only half worked through, the exercise pointless.

So no surprise that they split apart then. As is usually the way with such things the sum of their individual components was less than the whole and none of the side projects prospered.

Still, Jim Reid looks reasonably chipper, while his brother wisely remains hidden behind a fringe, so perhaps this reunion will last. There is even talk of an album. That might be interesting.

I won’t be at the Electric Picnic. I’ve developed an aversion to festivals over the last number of years. But who knows, perhaps they’ll do some ordinary gigs soon.

Their influence has been curiously submerged, probably because their sound was so distinctive. Direct copyists have been relatively few. But anyone who has heard the Raveonettes, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club or the much more excellent (than BRMC or the Raveonettes) Serena Maneesh and suchlike will hear echoes, or more than echoes of that original sound.

Here are they in their prime, with a very youthful Bobby Gillespie ‘on drums’…

Comments»

1. Damian O'Broin - July 15, 2007

Great clips. I saw them twice – once in the SFX, probably around 87/88, and then in the Top Hat a year or two later. I remember the A4 signs posted up on all the doors in the SFX before the gig saying ‘The Jesus and Mary Chain do not play encores.’ By the time they came back to the Top Hat they’d mellowed a bit.

I’ll let you know how the picnic set goes 😉

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2. WorldbyStorm - July 15, 2007

I was trying to work out had I seen them twice, but I have no recollection of the Top Hat gig, so probably not!

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3. Dublin Opinion » Blog Archive » Some Jesus & Mary Chain Vinyl, a USB Key and Me - July 18, 2007

[…] by a combination of Conor’s Forgotten Irish Bands posts, WorldbyStorm’s post about the reforming of The Jesus and Mary Chain and the fact that I just got a new stereo with a record player, I decided last night to dig out a […]

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