If you have never listened to the Jesus and Mary Chain, I would recommend that you stop reading this and listen to the entirety of Psychocandy and Darklands before anything else happens – It’s a decision you won’t regret. The Jesus and Mary Chain are one of a group of rare bands that will change not only what you are listening to now, but will define what you search for from this point forward.
Psychocandy is a fundamental album for anyone interested in alternative rock music and acted as a foundation for much of what is heard the breadth of the country today. Released in 1985 by the label Blanco y Negro, The Jesus and Mary Chain’s debut album was a musical marvel combining the popular melodies of 60’s pop music like the Beach Boys with Velvet Underground minimalism, and drowning the entire thing in a tidal wave of distortion and guitar feedback.
The album is rated as the 269th best album of all time and 45th best debut album of all time by Rolling Stone, and although this speaks volumes about the quality of the record, its real significance came from the influence it had on music. The mid 80s were a time when the music scene was dominated by U2 and the Smiths, when suddenly The Jesus and Mary Chain emerged from East Kilbride and spoke to an entire generation of the disillusioned. They influenced the development of shoegaze and alternative rock; It’s hard to imagine the early drawl of Nirvana without the influence of Psychocandy.
The mainstreaming of rock music was contested by this release; raw, rough, reintroducing guitar music through distortion. Lyrics like ‘things I see you only disagree, you never understand that’s what I want to be’ from Never Understand highlight the angst and antipathy that permeates Psychocandy, and hearing Jim croon is just as powerful in the 2015 Barrowlands Live record as it has ever been.
The 30th anniversary live recording is special in the sense that it still sounds as relevant, as important as it ever has. Reid’s voice is impeccable, holding notes perfectly and sounding as good as a recorded version. Hearing the show open with cheers and the drums to Just Like Honey evokes memories of the first listen to the Jesus and Mary Chain, the first time you heard the sound and the first time you connected with it. Although not quite as raucous as their early shows, which often descended into violence, an incredible atmosphere remains and pervades the entire record. The energy cannot be summed up in a more perfect way than when Jim Reid, during Inside me, sings ‘This takes me back again’; this live recording will take any fan back to the beginning, it will remind you why you love this band, remind you of everything they’re about’.