Photo: Sakura Photography
Let’s be clear from the outset, I’m very protective with regard to the Jesus and Mary Chain and their legacy. Nothing is more likely to induce puce faced apoplexy than when faced with dismissive ill-informed revisionist nonsense by journalists who adopt a tone of snarky arch indifference…. Why on earth these cock juggling wank spangles chose to write about music is beyond me because it doesn’t appear to excite or enthuse them in any way shape or form it’s just something to hurl lots of clever words at, but it never actually touches them, they don’t ‘feel’ it. They are the sort of rum coves who when presented with a work of great poetry, instead of losing themselves within its pages, marvelling at the beauty therein, start discussing the binding of the book, analsysing the basis weight, grammage and lustre of the paper. “Yes, yes but which pen did he use? I sincerely hope it was an original Scribemeister 1878, anything else simply won’t do… oh dear, I see he’s working class, one can tell by the uneducated way he grips his pen”
… but I digress…
The Mary Chain’s ‘Psychocandy’ 30th Anniversary tour gave Jim and William Reid the chance to set the record straight, and demonstrate what a hugely important band they are. To prove that despite vicissitudes of fortune, the fights, the drinking and the passing of time they had lost none of their incendiary power. And with original manager and avid JAMC proselytiser Alan McGee back at the helm it appeared people were taking notice again. And rightly so because ‘Psychocandy’ is an album that never ceases to astonish me. It was and still is, a beautiful contradiction; light-years ahead of its time, yet influenced by the past, visceral and savage yet fragile and tender. Is it my favourite Mary Chain album? Well that would be rather like asking a parent to pick their favourite child or Imelda Marcos to choose her favourite pair of shoes. However, it was their most important album simply because of the effect it had on the music scene at the time, its lasting influence and the fact that it gave the Reid brothers a launch pad to continue to release their glorious brand of twisted beautiful noise pop.
They inspired so many bands and yet the broadsheet music press continued to ignore them, their shyness, and awkwardness often mistaken for surly arrogance, their drinking, and fighting a sign of a band that didn’t care when actually it was a sign of a band that cared too much. The press in need of new heroes from the past instead hitched their bandwagon onto a very pleasant dimple faced Irish chap in a lab technician’s coat. His hilarious talk of ‘ meditative states via certain musical frequencies,’ of ‘searching for his inner self’ and of ‘tuning into the Earth’s frequency’ (which was surely tongue in cheek) delivered in the hushed tones of a poet, was lapped up by journalists. The fact that he hadn’t released an album in over 22 years didn’t stop them declaring My Bloody Valentine to be their favourite band EVER, despite never previously referencing them. Thus Mr Shields and co became seminal for doing nothing whilst the original trailblazers were shunted into the sidings. Revisionism eh? it’s the fucking curse of modern music journalism. Former Mary Chain drummer and Primal Scream front man Bobby Gillespie addressed this issue recently saying (of the Mary Chain) “They were a great band and I don’t think they get enough credit just for being them, for being so good at what they do, and for inspiring the amount of people they inspired.”
Beneath the crackle and distortion there are wonderful pop songs from a band that refused to compromise their musical vision and who all too often shot themselves in the foot. Nevertheless, one thing’s for sure, very few bands intuitively understand the true essence of rock n roll as well as the JAMC, it quite simply, was in their soul. However, how would revisiting and performing ‘Pyschocandy’ work some thirty years later? Would they put the naysayers in their place or would it all end in tears and beers? Well you can read my review by heading over to ‘Get Into This’ …. now ;)