The Jesus And Mary Chain / 21 Singles

21 SinglesThe Jesus and Mary Chain are a Scottish Indie rock band formed in East Kilbride, Glasgow in 1983. The band revolves around the songwriting partnership of brothers Jim and William Reid. They released a string of albums, singles and EPs between their 1983 formation and their 1999 breakup, and gained notoriety in their early days for short sets and violence that became common at their live shows. In 2007, the band reunited.

The Analysis:

Upside Down—-Let’s just fess up and admit it…the early singles from JAMC were fairly awful! This still sounds pretty darn good…one of the high points for the band, but the high-pitched feedback is almost enough to blow out your eardrums. The vocal is magnificent, but the layers upon layers of noise never made me a huge fan of this early stuff…sorry.

Never Understand—-A bit more bass driven and with an underlying melody that the band would hate to admit to, this is still one of my favorite early songs from the band. I’m not sure how this band eer managed to record sounds like this way back then…the noise is almost excruciating at times…it is only the wonderful sense of melody and the emerging Brit-pop vocal that saves it from obscurity. Nice!

You Trip Me Up—-Still deeply embroiled in the early noise core movement of the band’s career, this is so fuzzy and full of sharp feedback that you almost forget to appreciate the wonderful vocal that accompanies all of the chaos. This is blacker than black but also delivered with an almost hopeful sound…the end of the song just dissolves into a huge mass of noise, much like the band’s early live shows…none the less, this is an important part of British Musical History.

Just Like Honey—-Emerging a bit from the overwhelming feedback of earlier recordings, this is still one of the most accessible singles the band ever released. This is freakin’ brilliant…Reid delivers a vocal that is surprisingly touching and emotional…far removed from the ramshackle writing of the first few releases. This is stellar….listen to this and relive it…this does not get much better.

Some Candy Talking—-Much in the same vein of the previous track, this is full of emotional lyrics that still surprises me. the music is so damn accessible and present…it is no surprise the band rode so high for such a time and is cited as influential by so many other bands. The vocal is magnificent…the music bombastic without being obnoxious, this is the sound of a band discovering themselves.

April Skies—-Another defining single in the career of this band, the whole damn thing is so magnificent it still takes my breath away. Led by a remarkable almost jangly guitar and little or no ‘noise’, the vocal is so superb it is hard to believe where this band was once was. This is emotional, real and dark as human emotion can be…but still shining with a pop element that leaves you breathing heavy and sweating a bit. Wonderful!

Happy When It Rains—-This is a bit more driving than the past few songs…delivered with a nice aggressive guitar and a darker musical sound that fits the lyrics perfectly. There is still an amazing sense of melody to this and Reid actually shows some inflection in his vocal that is surprising. The tone changes and the range is lifted from the comfortable dark the song a nice life and an incredible lasting power. This is wonderful!

Darklands—-This has a remarkable guitar intro…sounding fresh, but never losing that classic JAMC sound. Reid delivers a vocal that is again much more full inflection and range…giving this track an even more emotional feel. These guys would be ashamed to think that people embraced them on an emotional level, but the simple fact is that this band delivered song after song that shaped many people’s lives…this is a prime example…simply wonderful!

Sidewalking—-One of my favorite tracks from this band, this is much more reminiscent of the earlier songs from the band but delivered in a style that is less bombastic but still true to the original feedback and distorted feel. This is remarkable…Reid delivers a vocal that is almost deadpan…even though there is a remarkable sense of melody to the whole damn thing. This is a band I would love to spend even 15 minutes with.

Blues From A Gun—-Again, much more straight forward Rock n’ Roll, this is superb. Full of a remarkable aggression but with a nice sense of modern melody, the band seems to have found a new chapter in the evolution of themselves. By this point, the band was pretty much unstoppable….kindred spirits of both the Brits and the American Teens going through angst and development. This only served to fuel their fire!

Head On—-Perhaps one of the best known singles from this band, this contains all the elements that made this band huge and hated as well. This is driving, aggressive yet melodic and wonderful. Despite many people’s interpretations, this song WAS written and recorded by JAMC well before The Pixies ever got their hands on this. This is a masterful track…full of magical pop hooks as well as an underlying aggression. This is a stellar moment in the career of this band.

Rollercoaster—-This is a bit different….allowing the lead guitar to start off the track rather than a heavier bass sound. the vocal is pushed way underneath everything else…giving it an almost removed sound and allowing for some nice throwback sounds of the earlier tracks. This is a bit noisier…more aggressive and delivered with a mastery that still shine through today…I love this band…such magnificent memories….this reminds me a lot of The Roses!!!

Reverence—-This is nice….delivered with a nice sense of feedback and noise that hearkens back to the formative years. the lyrics are full of religious overtones that both shocked and awed the British Press…causing an uproar and a huge increase in interest and record sales for the band. Sometimes the best PR is bad PR. This is true to form and not that unexpecterd…the remarkable thing for me is how well it still plays today.

Far Gone And Out—-From the very first few notes, the melody of the song establishes itself…when Reid enters with the vocal, the melody increases even more. Although the song manages to get pretty noisy at times, you never lose that magical catchiness that this band was so good at purveying. This is another of those magical moments that you never expected from this band but got anywhays…ready or not!

Almost Gold—-Much more sedate and introspective, the band of brother seemed to move in this direction as they aged and became more centered. This actually seems to have a gentle under swell of sound that is lulling at times…at other times the guitars roar back with a jangle that makes you catch your breath. This is a nice example of maturation and comfortability..all the while the whole damn thing was imploding behind the scenes.

Snakedriver—-This is magnificent….still one of my favorite songs from my all-time favorite JAMC release…Stoned And Dethroned. This is another prime example of maturation and finesse as the brothers show that they were aging gracefully and successfully,  all the while tearing each others eyes out behind the scenes. This song has so many high points….the magical melody and the understated feedback that recalls both the past and the present…this just makes me smile…a rare thing these days!

Sometimes Always—-Yet another really stellar track that could not be any more different from the previous if it tried. This is fantastic….featuring a guest vocal from hope Sandoval, this worked better than I think even the brothers thought possible. This is loaded with all of the classic JAMC sounds and at the same time delivering a sound that is fresh and updated. This is by far…my very favorite track from this band!!! Beautiful and remarkable!

Come On—-This, at the time, was the future that would begin to emerge from the British music scene. This is both modern and retro…helping to usher in the whole Brit-pop movement that would dominate the overseas charts for years to come. This is not that different from any of the countless Oasis tracks you could pull out…this is magnificent. With a nice underbelly of feed back but an overwhelming sense of melody…combined with a damn pleasant vocal…this was the future.

I Hate Rock N’ Roll—-Taken from the release that was to be the band’s swan song, it only seems appropriate that the band would end up where they started. Delivering a noisy track that is laden with guitar tracks laid over guitar tracks creating a huge layered sound, the band is a constant study of contrasts…as they expose why they love Rock but hate it at the same time. This is magnificent…noisy and filled with a nice anger, this is an end to a remarkable band….bowing out as glorious as they started.

Cracking Up—-Sounding to me like this was recorded in your friend’s garage, it is again an appropriate send off for a band that started in the basement! The vocal is so removed, it sounds like it was recorded in a complete different room than where the band was playing…which could be a true and real possibility. This is brilliant…raw and raucous it is just where the band needed to end up…exactly where they began.

I Love Rock N’ Roll—-Still delivering melodic driven Alternative Rock, the band delivered its swan song in a masterful way….much as they started….full of an underlying aggression and noise that defies all of popular music but somehow landed this band right in the forefront of the movement. This is fantastic…I would hate to be with this family on Thanksgiving!!!!

***** out of 5 [!!!!!]


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