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Category:    Home > Reviews > Rock > Alternative > The Jesus And Mary Chain DualDiscs (Rhino/U.S.: Psychocandy/Automatic/Honey's Dead/Stoned & Dethroned)

The Jesus And Mary Chain DualDiscs (Rhino/U.S.)


                                 Music     Sound: B     Extras: C

Psychocandy: A

Automatic: B-

Honey’s Dead: A-

Stoned & Dethroned: A-



In the summer of 1992, that long hot idyll between my senior year of high school and my first year at the university, I sweated in the basement of the public library, palled around with old friends before they left town for colleges beyond the Pittsburgh city limits, and re-ignited a sweet love affair I thought over months earlier.  The other memorable event of that particular summer was attending the second installment of the Lollapalooza touring music festival. On the bill: Ice Cube, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ministry, Pearl Jam, and the band that I was especially eager to see The Jesus And Mary Chain.


I don’t remember exactly how long I waited, reclining on that sweltering hillside, the bright sun baking us and the sky utterly clear above us.  My arms around my girlfriend, the aroma of gyros wafting up from the food tents, and the two of us sharing exorbitantly priced bottles of water as the heat and humidity went to work on us I occasionally cursed Perry Farrel under my breath for organizing this damn thing.


I have a thing about the outdoors – I don’t particularly like ‘em.  Sure as a kid I enjoyed nothing so much as running around outside playing and having a good time, laughing in the elements, my legs pumping, arms going, breathing deep of the good free air but as I’ve gotten older, though, the great outdoors has become something I can do without.  Certainly a little goes a long way for me and spending the entire day melting on a barren hillside, no matter how great the bands may have been, was a difficult situation to get through.  The pleasant and very pretty company definitely helped.


As uncomfortable as I was, though, Jim and William Reid of The Jesus And Mary Chain almost overwhelmed by the giant stage and the mercilessly piercing sunlight that left no shadow in which they could hide were even more outmatched by the summer.  I actually felt bad for the guys and forgave their abrupt set that couldn’t have lasted more than twenty-five minutes.  Of all the bands on that tour JAMC was who I was there to see and of all those bands none were as out of place.  So I couldn’t hold the brevity of their set against them.  Watching them play their special midnight brand of rock’n’roll to that wide-eyed and sun-kissed crowd of neo-hippies and frat boys I actually found myself willing them to make a quick escape.  Run boys, run. No good will come of this. Run!


JAMC records have been embarrassingly out of print in the U.S. for years, but now thanks to Rhino (of course) their oeuvre has been overhauled and re-issued in appropriately respectful fashion.  Each disc has been remastered and includes three of-their-time videos.


Psychocandy bursts out of the gate with early Velvet Underground dissonance and sculpted guitar feedback swirled assuredly in the doom and gloom with a spoonful of sugar pop of the Shangri-las.  Jim Reid’s vocals are all threat and regret while William’s guitar lines shift from sharp stabs to buzzsaw shredding.  The core of their sound is present here from the first track and listening to this record there is no way anyone could imagine them on a big empty stage shot through with white sunlight.


Automatic was their third record following the sharp and spiky Darklands. Automatic betrays a certain tired lassitude.  There are still some good songs here but the record feels kind of padded.  There’s no real snap here. This is brought into very clear perspective by the Pixies cover of Head On which turned that JAMC highlight into a real barnburner.  As good as the song is here it just never scales the heights it could have.  Not a bad record by any means but you feel like the band is running in place on this one.


All of that quickly became trivial and meaningless with Honey’s Dead.  This is the first JAMC album I ever bought and it was because of it that I was on that hill in the dead of summer.  These are the songs I had come to hear.  But Reverence and Teenage Lust were never meant for the bright light of day.  In fact no JAMC song was meant to be heard by any other light than that of the red neon of a sex shop window at two in the morning.  The album is so fierce, so sickly threatening and aberrant yet at the same time it’s still beautiful pop music.


With Stoned & Dethroned JAMC changed the rules of their game.  Here was a JAMC album where the acoustic guitar was the centerpiece.  Not only that, but guest vocalists Shane Macgowan and Hope Sandoval join in. Sandoval’s contribution in particular is a highlight to this record. Stoned & Dethroned was the final peak of JAMC’s career.  A great album filled with great pop songs.


After this they would release tired revisitations to their earlier classic sound to no real avail.  Rhino has reissued the crème de la crème of JAMC in solid MLP 96kHz/24bit 2.0 Stereo-only editions on top of solid CD sound versions and America is all the better for their doing it.



-   Kristofer Collins





Kristofer Collins is the owner of Desolation Row CDs in Pittsburgh, PA and an editor at The New Yinzer. He can be contacted at desolationrowcds@hotmail.com


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