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This weekend I’ll mostly be listening to the Jesus and Mary Chain’s Munki February 7, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....

Their final album, from… gulp… just about 10 years ago. Released in June 1998 and for some the disappointing tail end to a career that had faded out from the crackling brilliance of their debut and second album.

Well, for some. But those early years sort of disappointed me ultimately. The first album, while remarkable in many ways, was never quite as good as the singles and EPs that preceded it. Check out their version of Vic Goddard’s Ambition on the Never Understand single…

And from there on things could only get… difficult. Darklands, with its country tinge, was a fine album, and Automatic which was infused with near-Krautrock rhythms, had its moments. But in a sense the store had been ransacked. What else was there to do? Where else to go? And so each successive release, from the pretty good Honey’s Dead to … merely pointed up that question. What they did they did very well indeed, but what it was was very well known.

So, somehow Munki, as a bookend to their career might well have disappointed, but to my ears it was quite the opposite. Where their earlier material had sounded like people making music that they thought sounded unhinged there was something about this album which eschewed that level of detachment. This was a group of people, aging, losing credibility and fans at a rapid rate, on the brink of disintegrating and it was in the sound. And despite that sound reiterating the past, it somehow managed to rework itself so that it was given a callous freshness.

The album had the feel of a ragbag of ideas and sounds thrown together. Consider Moe Tucker, a paean to the legendary Velvets drummer, which on the album is sung by their sister in a voice which is – frankly – pretty great. More please Ms. Reid.

The opening verse goes…

You know I think it’s time you gave the girl a chance
You know she don’t need love and she don’t need no romance
You’ve got to walk before you run
You’ve got to live for number one
Don’t get up for her ’cause you’re going down

Definitely about time that a certain thematic current in their lyrics was dealt with…

Moe Tucker

Or the entirely cynical I Love Rock’N’Roll

There’s a horn section on the album. Oddly great.

But for me the masterpiece is Cracking Up which quite literally charts their descent from pre-planned to entirely organic chaos.

And the lyrics to that? Well, perhaps best avoid the lyrics… particularly ones that go like:

One said I was a priest
I am a priest
They said I was least
I am a priest
They said I was in-com-plete
I am a priest
I am a freak

Although, although, they have a great Doors-like year of zonk meaningless meaningful thing going on. He is a priest…

There are other great tracks, Supertramp to mention but one, but unfortunately they aren’t available on YouTube.

The inevitable happened, on tour William walked out. And he didn’t walk back again until almost a decade later. I almost, almost, hope they never write another JAMC album. But if they do I wonder if I’ll be disappointed, or not?


1. WorldbyStorm - February 9, 2009

Apologies to all who commented, some glitch in WordPress kept pushing this post to the top of the list so I had to repost it…


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