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Wednesday, August 9th, 2006

Barbed Wire Kisses

“Do you remember the JAMC?”

If not, then Rhino’s series of The Jesus & Mary Chain DualDisc reissues, released last month, should help your recall – unless you’re really young in which case never mind. Prefix, Pitchfork, Paste and PopMatters have all taken the opportunity to revisit the Reid Brothers’ oeuvre (or most of it since the reissues don’t include swan song Munki) and since I’ve never been one for independent thinking, I’ve chosen to do the same. And yes, this post is brought to you by the letter “P”.

First off, a couple declarations of heresy: first, I don’t really like the Jesus & Mary Chain all that much and second, Psychocandy is my least favourite of ther five albums relevant to this discussion (and no, Munki wouldn’t have been it even if it qualified). While I appreciate the ultra-crap production is sort of the point with the early records, that doesn’t make them any less grating to listen to. And no, I don’t think that the remasters would help because even if I don’t like history it doesn’t mean that I support revisionism. It’s really only Psychocandy that hurts my ears – I remember the first time I heard it. I was in a friend’s car and we put it on the CD player – and the sound from the speakers was almost indistinguishable from the noise of the engine.

No, I have to say my favourite JAMC album is Honey’s Dead, which incidentally is the one which consistently gets the lower reviews of the reissued works. Can’t really say why, maybe it’s just the brashness and attitude of it or the fact that it’s the first of their albums I got that I could actually hear the vocals. Objectively, then obviously Darklands and Automatic are better, but sentiment is a funny thing. The acoustic-y Stoned And Dethroned has some glorious moments but is far too long to be for the ages.

But these are all relative statements – as I said in the beginning, I rarely listen to my JAMC stuff. Their shadow might loom large over the last 20 years of British music (they were undeniably the proto-shoegaze band and the Reids could teach the Gallaghers a thing about brothers not getting along) but overall, I found them too rough around the edges and one-dimensional to really engage. But I am curious to those who’ve heard the reissues – how do the remasters sound? Did they mess with the sound? Or is the sound still a mess?

The reissues have stimulated a little blog activity as well – RBally posted a live JAMC set circa 1987 a few weeks ago and The Sound Of Indie dug up a video of an interview they did with The New Music waaaaay back in 1985. There’s also some videos YouTube-d in the PopMatters link above. Jim Reid continues to make music in Freeheat. What I’ve heard isn’t especially inspiring. Here’s a Psychocandy track and a Psychocandy cover by The Shins (whose new album has been pushed back to next year).

MP3: The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Some Candy Talking”
MP3: The Shins – “Taste Of Cindy”
MySpace: The Jesus & Mary Chain

Rhino also pays tribute to the late Arthur Lee. If you’re not familiar with Love, then take advantage of this sad event to learn a bit about Lee and his music – The AV Club has a lovely requiem and Chart has 12 reasons why Lee was cool. USA Today and The Los Angeles Times also have rememberences. If anyone asked me whether I was a Sgt Pepper’s or Pet Sounds guy, I’d probably say (or wish I said), Forever Changes. Lee and the reincarnated Love were supposed to come to Toronto way back in 2002, but had to cancel on account of border difficulties – namely Lee’s criminal record for firearms possession. I had always hoped that that would get sorted out somehow and I’d get the chance to see him play. Alas. Anyways, in tribute, here are some past Love covers that I’ve posted. If you’ve never heard them then do yourself a favour and find a copy of Forever Changes. I’m serious.

MP3: Billy Bragg – “Seven And Seven Is”
MP3: The Boo Radleys – “Alone Again Or”

Beth from Rock Paper Pixels interviewed Jay Ferguson of Sloan for BlogTO and got some insight into their new album Who Taught You To Live Like That? Never Hear the End of It, out September 19.

A fair number of concert announcements rolled out while I was away – let’s get caught up. The Strokes have been added to day two of the Virgin Festival – that’s September 10 – and Emily Haines will perform selections from her new solo album Knives Don’t Have Your Back at The Gladstone Hotel on September 12. The album is out September 26, full dates at Filter. Brooklyn’s Grizzly Bear will be promoting their new album Yellow House, out September 5, with a show at the El Mocambo on September 23 (Full dates here).

Looking to October, Jenny Lewis will return with more Rabbit Fur Coat for a show at Trinity-St Paul’s on October 7 (full dates at Pitchfork) and Juana Molina, who played there in June, returns with Adem on October 12 to play the slightly less formal Supermarket. Mojave 3’s October 16 show will be at the Mod Club, not Lee’s as I originally speculated, Billboard previews Frank Black’s Fall tour which brings him to the Opera House on October 26 and The Hold Steady, who were just here last week (and about which they’ve blogged), have added a Toronto date to their Fall tour in support of Boys And Girls In America (out October 3) – they’ll be at the much cozier Horseshoe on October 28. Man, if they thought their Lee’s Palace show was the hottest one yet, wait’ll they see the ‘Shoe.

Newsarama is serializing Bendis and Oeming’s Powers, one of the best comic books on the market today. They’re posting one page a day from the first story, Who Killed Retro Girl? so if you need even more pop culture to distract you from important things, there you go.

np – The Hold Steady / Separation Sunday

By : Frank Yang at 8:57 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. brads says:

    I thought for sure you’d mention the new Ride/JAMC connection: Loz is playing drums in Jim Reid’s band. Really curious to hear that.

    (not to mention Loz’s in-progress solo album… can’t even imagine what that’ll sound like)

  2. ginn says:

    phil king (ex-lush) is in jim reids band also. i love jesus and mary chain.

  3. clicky times 2 says:

    I always like it when someone surprises me and takes a contrarian viewpoint. Kudos. Haven’t heard the reissues yet, but I think I’d prefer them to stay blisfully grating.

  4. mjrc says:

    you know the death cab song "we looked like giants" and he sings, do you remember the JAMC–is that what he’s referring to, the jesus and mary chain?

  5. Frank says:

    mjrc- yes, that’s exactly it. Ben remembers the JAMC. Because he’s old.

  6. ned says:

    there’s lots of current JAMC activity as well… jim reid has put out two singles in the past year (one of which was a split with sister vanilla, aka linda reid backed by the brothers reid), there’s a new freeheat album out on the planting seeds label (jim reid with ben lurie, latter day JAMC guitarist) and there’s a sister vanilla album already out in japan that’s coming out on chemikal underground…

  7. five says:

    I bought Psychocandy, because it was the only one that I knew would improve with a remaster, and it does. The static is no longer just a wall of fuzz, but has some richness and depth. It’s as if, on the original, you couldn’t distinguish one note from the next and now you can.

    However, there isn’t a single bonus track, no B-sides, no 12" mixes – and I’m probably never going to watch the videos. I can’t imagine re-buying any of the others.

  8. Matt Berlyant says:

    I’m right there with you Frank except that I’d replace Honey’s Dead (which I don’t really care for) with Automatic (which I really like). I like the singles from Psychocandy, but they’re all on 21 Singles, which is what I listen to when I’m in the mood for them. I can’t take the production (or lack thereof) on Psychocandy, though I acknowledge its influence and what not, and I feel similiarly about Darklands in that I only like the songs that made it onto 21 Singles. So why Automatic? Well it’s the first one I heard when it came out (yes like Ben Gibbard I’m old, too) and despite the dated-sounding drum machine and what not, it’s still a good-sounding record relative to their earlier stuff and more importantly, the songwriting is more consistent.

  9. Beth says:

    Frank frank frank… not a J&MC fan?!? I’m so dissapointed. But admit it: you are at heart a Sloan fan-girl. TRUTH! (Thanks for the linkage. I also have a blurb + photo link from Sloan’s show in Bala last weekend over on rockpaperpixels.com).

    Oh and your lollapalooza stuff is SO GOOD.

  10. c.bass says:

    Fist of all, let me say that I love and appreciate all that Frank does with this blog. It is great, it really is.

    That said, I gotta call him on out on this JAMC post.

    PshycoCandy was released in 1985. Which, according to my math, would put Frank at the ripe old age of 10 at the time of its release. I don’t think he was driving around listening to cds at 10 — if so, they were probably Glass Tiger or Bryan Adams tapes.

    The JAMC made shoegazer rock. Everytime you hear a guitar drone or a mumbled lyric about love, lust or death — you should thank the (april) skies above for the JAMC.

    Finally, as Frank such a huge fan of cover songs, he should check out the JAMC collection. They cover everyone from Bo Diddley to the Temptations to the Beach Boys to Leonard Cohen.

    To me, having a favorite Reid brother is like choosing Noel over Liam or McCartney over Lennon. Personally, I’ll take Jim’s work anyday over William. You can hear it on every track.

    So, maybe I am a little amped up for this discussion.
    I’ll leave it be, because Frank has continued to pursue his dream of indie rock geekdom, whereas I have sold out for the wife, kids and picketfence.

    But Frank, you messed this one up…..

  11. Frank says:

    perhaps you’d be so good as to point out exactly where I claimed to have been listening to the Jesus & Mary Chain in 1985. If you want a time frame, the first time I heard Psychocandy was in 1998.

    And please also point out where I deny their influence on shoegaze or british music in general? In fact, I think I point out just that.

    All I was saying is that I don’t really like them all that much. And I’ve heard their covers. They’re not terribly interesting.

  12. mike says:

    I was always a "Darklands" JAMC fan myself. I started off listening to them back in the late 80’s at the end of highschool, then went through a period when I didn’t buy their mid-period stuff. I have "Stoned and Dethroned" which I think is a terrific album. "Pyschocandy" is partially great, but can be a little bit taxing to listen especially on a few of the tracks that are more feedback than song.

    And I see you’ve been bit by the Outdoor Festival bug(ie Virgin Festival). This should be great!

  13. c.bass says:

    Frank, show me the last album(s) you listened to 13yrs (1985 – 1998)after its original release that absolutely floored you.

    The JAMC sound at the time was revolutionary. And the sound is still interesting enough to warrant the reissue. 99% of the bands you post about on your blog are interesting today; but they won’t make it to the land of Rhino reissues.

    I find the JAMC covers to be extremely interesting. I like a lot of the covers you post here, but 90% of them don’t stack up to the JAMC covers.

    Good luck with the blog. I’ll still keep checking in on those mp3s of the week. Who knows, you might even come around to post "Tower of Song" by the JAMC. Dare to dream….

  14. edmund_jupp@hotmail.com says:

    Psychocandy is still my favourite JAMC record, although they ALL have their moments. The covers were quite cool -I love their complete ‘re-working’ of surfin’ USA (available on Barbed Wire Kisses). Honey’s Dead is good too, although i often think Automatic comes in for a bot of a slagging. BTW Don;t forget the ace track ‘Sidewalking’, which again was on ‘Barbed Wire Kisses’ as much attitude and cool as reverence…

  15. kristen says:

    long live JAMC!

  16. Five says:

    c. bass – I’m going to chime in in regards to "show me the last album(s) you listened to 13yrs (1985 – 1998)after its original release that absolutely floored you."

    There are plenty of albums worth flooring The Kinks’ "Aurthur…" being one that’s far older. But The Stockholm Monsters "Alma Mater" (1984) had that affect on me when I first heard it in 2002.

  17. Hugh says:

    Hating on JAMC just isn’t nice.

  18. Willy B says:

    "show me the last album(s) you listened to 13yrs (1985 – 1998)after its original release that absolutely floored you."

    Here goes:

    "#1 Record" Big Star
    "Liege and Lief" Fairport Convention
    "Two Wheels Good" Prefab Sprout

    Off the top of my head. There are maybe a dozen more…

  19. trev says:

    Opinions are grand….but this one I take umbridge with – "And I’ve heard their covers. They’re not terribly interesting"

    I think Jim and William knew good songs and are one of a few bands that consistently took others songs and made them their own.

    You should also check out Terry Edwards’s (Terry Edwards plays the music of Jim and William Reid, it was called) covers of JAMC tunes. The songs hold up, minus the noise. :-)

  20. cbass says:

    I am glad to have kicked up some dust here. At least I got some good direction for some new-old music. I’ll be sure to check out the Stockholm Monsters and Terry Edward.

    Willy B — I think you get "floored" rather easily. I guess that’s good for you. And, if those are the albums you are getting around to now, then you are really gonna love the 1990s. There’s this one band, Radiohead, that is simply going to blow you away….