Sunday, 24 May 2009
What the fuck was that?
Those were the exact words I uttered on my introduction to Upside Down by the Jesus and Mary Chain.
A lot of people go on about the first time that they heard the Smiths and the effect that ultimate indie band had on them but I didn't really get it. I am not here to slag off the Smiths, I really like some of the band's output, however I never really got into that sensitive, Oscar Wilde quoting, 60's kitchen sink drama side of them that some of the fanboys I knew did and as for the celibacy thing that was incongruous to a hormonally charged 15 year old.
What I'm trying to get at here is that I hadn't had that Damascean moment that a lot of my friends had and I was beginning to wonder why not? I liked a lot of different music from Hendrix to The Clash and SLF but there was nothing that I was fanatical about, nothing that was mine.
Until that dark grey day at the beginning of 1985, a couple of months after the single's release, when a friend gave me a compilation tape that his elder brother had made. I rewound the tape and played Upside Down over and over again which was quite painfully through the earphones of my red Sony Walkman. I just couldn't get enough of the track. I had found my band, I thought. The track had everything, primal drumming, vicious feedback an underlying feeling of malevolence but beneath it all was a really catchy song.
I eagerly awaited the next single Never Understand, which didn't disappoint and the glorious debut that was Psychocandy the merits of which I could bang on about all day.
My love affair with the Mary Chain dissolved with the third album Automatic which to this day I have trouble playing. I did, however continue to buy everything they released and the odd glimmer of genius is apparent on all of their subsequent releases just not in abundance as on the first 2 albums.
From the Jesus and Mary Chain I found the Velvet Underground and Can who, eventually, with the help of a certain Radio 1 DJ led me to The Fall .
Jesus And Mary Chain - Upside Down
Just what is needed on a Sunday morning to blow the cobwebs away.
I remember watching the band's first appearance on the Whistle Test and looking on in awe until my mate, S broke the spell, saying "if that was John Lydon, the mic stand would have went over on the first attempt, they're playing at it" which sparked a highly charged discussion.