The Jesus and Mary Chain
When I moved to Cambridge in 1989, The Jesus and Mary Chain were the most important band in my life. I followed them around on their often disrupted tours, bought all their records the day they came out and had a decent collection of bootlegs.
Then the Manics came along and changed all that...
Last night I saw them live in the first time for nearly 30 years, and it reminded me what an incredible, original, inspiring band they are. Although there maybe some irony in a group famed for destroying show biz expectations becoming so polished and proficient, they continue to produce music which is unsettling, nonconformist and subversive, yet also joyful, invigorating and beautiful.
Theirs is the celebratory sound of a band still hating the music biz while simultaneously being still very much in love with the multinational, multicultural, mixed up beast that is rock'n'roll.
Abocve is what I wrote to accompany my pictures of the gig which you can see here
And below is what I wrote for a non music magazine about the new album...
Damage and Joy The Jesus and Mary Chain
35 years ago, The Jesus and Mary Chain showed rock that music could still be provocative in its musical form as well as in its lyrical content.
The band's destruction of 3 minute pop songs under squealing walls of feedback mirrored their destruction of venues, as riots erupted at gigs. Bewildered punters vented their frustration as the band refused to play the pop star game not engaging with the audience (or even facing them) and walking off stage after just a couple of numbers if they were 'bored'. Unsurprisingly they were banned by venues, radio and TV shows and even, on one occasion, the pressing plant that was meant to be producing their single.
They were perhaps the most radical guitar band since punk.
Releasing a new album over 30 years on (and almost 20 years since their last new material) is fraught with pitfalls and contradictions. However, Damage and Joy (its title apparently a reference to the English translation of schadenfreude) avoids both these with a sneer, and shows the band reinventing their East Kilbride council house punk for the 21st Century.
This record was never going to be a remake of Psychocandy, their controversial début album which shocked and redefined musical convention in the 80's. However, it has the drawl, swagger, arrogance, beats and killer tunes that mark out so much great music. Their cheeky undermining of rock's clichés implies both a healthy disrespect for cultural icons and an empowering inclusive manifesto that anyone who can hold down 3 chords can join the party. Although, of course, it takes peculiar talent to produce sounds and songs like these: equally unsettling, nonconformist and subversive yet also joyful, invigorating and beautiful.
Damage and Joy is the celebratory sound of a band still hating the music biz while simultaneously being still very much in love with the multinational, multicultural, mixed up beast that is rock'n'roll. They may not inspire riots or be seen as revolutionary any more, but this is a great record to listen to to inspire you to stick to your guns, to keep on keeping on and to tap your toe while doing so.
Like shooting Blues From A Gun.
Thanks to Simon Baker and Gary Brown for the photopass