In the space of just a few months, The Jesus And Mary Chain would transform themselves from a few shy lads in East Kilbride to seminal noise terrorists.
Of course, some of it was hype. Creation Records' boss Alan McGee - now back in the fold to manage to band's upcoming tour - ably whipped up support in the music press, backed with some actual, real life riots to boot.
Ultimately, though, the music was what mattered. The Jesus And Mary Chain's debut album 'Psychocandy' was released in November 1985, leaving in its scorched wake almost entire genres.
Fusing golden, syrup-sweet melodies with some all out noise, the band matched the innocence of pure 60s pop with an animalistic fervour. Lives were changed, bands were formed and the world of indie rock (or at least its hearing) was never quite the same again.
Clash asked A Place To Bury Strangers' lynchpin Oliver Ackermann to reflect on this truly seminal album...
- - -
They declared it and it was true. In 1985 The Jesus And Mary Chain were the best band in the world. Their first record 'Psychocandy' was released on Blanco y Negro and it was unlike anything that had ever come before. The mysterious world that they built from their sound and ideology marked the start of a new era.
'Back To The Future' had hit the theaters, Madonna was hot, fluorescent synths and cock metal were blazing, and then there they were. Two dysfunctional brothers from Scotland, Jim and William Reed. Their hair was teased, bodies plastered in black leather, hanging on the beach, and always wearing sunglasses. Their shows would end with crowds rioting and smashing clubs to pieces. They would trash-talk all other music, not give a fuck about anything, and do this all while fabricating beautiful white noise symphonies. They seemed like gods.
The Jesus And Mary Chain - 'In A Hole' (Live on The Old Grey Whistle Test)
- - -
When 'Psychocandy' came out it purposefully destroyed all other music that had come before it. The album was loaded with some of the greatest pop songs of all time. Tracks like 'My Little Underground' and 'Never Understand' are annihilated with feedback and ear piercing noise. The art was so pure; they created a baby and aborted it. Usually musicians were trying to get attention by showing off how good they could craft a song or how virtuous they could wank their instruments. This Jesus And Mary Chain seemed like they sneezed out amazing hits and then chose to make them unlistenable. This was the new punk.
I remember when I bought 'Psychocandy'. I was rummaging through a huge bin of gospel records at a church estate sale, bored really. The selection in a bin of religious records is typically more dire than you could possibly imagine, but there it was. 'Psychocandy' was probably mistakenly bought by the church but I didn't care. It was my new soundtrack. The record player I had had at the time was one of those rubbish, all in one, Panasonic, fake wood, tape eating monsters, and it had played so many records that the needle scratched into whatever was placed on it. This record was perfect for it. It was the most fucked up album I had ever heard and it sounded great even under bad circumstances. They had crackles and pops, and the soundscapes were so beautifully arranged that I would even put the record on to cure a headache. I had never heard anything sound like that before and when I found out the sounds were coming from a guitar, I knew it was what I wanted to do.
The Jesus And Mary Chain - Camden Electric Ballroom 1985
- - -
'Psychocandy' was such an important record for me when I was discovering my absolute love for music. My older brother had just introduced me to Punk and that blew my world apart. I departed from the older 50's and 60's music I had grown up with, to this new aggressive influence. Then The Jesus and Mary Chain married the two. There was something calculated to the chaos. All the songs appeared perfectly crafted like the old pop I used to love and yet sounded so out of control it was hard to tell what was going on. I didn't realize until later in life how awesome the power of ambiguity could be. The overall mood of the music was so mysterious it allowed my imagination to fill in the gaps. It was like the perfect adaptable puzzle piece that would make me sad when I was feeling down and lift me up when I was on fire. It became the most personal experience ever. The Jesus And Mary Chain had just touched my soul.
Now I play, record, write, produce music and engineer devices that create music. It all began with what are now faded memories of bands and styles that crafted my youth. So if you forget what it feels like to be alive, do what this 30-year-old gem did for me. Ditch your friends for one night, get high and turn this album up as loud as it gets. Let the Jesus and Mary Chain trip you up.
The Jesus And Mary Chain - 'Never Understand'
- - -
The Jesus And Mary Chain are set to play 'Psychocandy' in full at the following shows:
19 London Troxy (SOLD OUT)
20 Manchester Academy (SOLD OUT)
21 Glasgow Barrowlands (SOLD OUT)
23 Glasgow Barrowlands (SOLD OUT)
24 London Troxy (SOLD OUT)