I apologize, well no I shouldn’t really apologize to an imaginary readership now should I? But if you are reading, I’m truly sorry….
My posts have become more sporadic due to other study related commitments which are now dominating my time and so here we are with another ‘essential’ entry in this series dedicated to two downcast, frizzy haired, pale-faced siblings from Glasgow, Scotland who armed with their knowledge of classic pop and punk injected a sense of danger into an otherwise grey uk independent music scene in the mid 1980’s.
A facsimile maybe; something new yet old, familiar. Where these boys differed initially on their landmark début album Psychocandy was in the level of noise they brought to the table. Psychocandy, released in 1985 is awash in reverb and feedback which almost drown out the sublime hooks crafted by William and Jim Reid as heard the records two outstanding tracks (well for me at least); ‘Just Like Honey‘ and ‘Some Candy Talking‘. Both use a primitive Moe Tucker like back beat as the songs rhythmic spine, the vocals in attitude and delivery are a mixture of Lou Reed and Suicide’s Alan Vega, their sweet melodies wrapped around teenage boy fantasy lyrics of beauty and decay and both feature spine tingling crescendos of pure pop melancholia; a potent cocktail of Brill Building song craft, Postcard Records jangle, Factory sleaze and Punk/Proto Rock N’ Roll primitivism.
Just Like Honey (1985)
Some Candy Talking (1985)
TV Interview (1985)
Now for the personal angle. What’s that you are saying? You shouldn’t clumsily announce your thematic intentions as it makes your writing style seem stilted, obvious and boring. Oh, inner critic how I love/hate you so. But seriously folks…in 1998 I picked up a cd single of The Jesus & Mary Chain‘s then comeback single ‘Cracking Up’ and for a while they made me feel like I could pretend I was sexy and slightly fucked up in a druggy rock star way whilst posing in front of my bedroom mirror. The fact was that at this point, the bands critical and limited commercial aura had diminished somewhat in the intervening years since their much hyped début and despite re-signing with their first label Alan Mc Gee’s Creation Records, then riding the Wave of Oasis massive success, this under-rated piece of prime goth scuzz barely scraped the Top 40 of the UK hit parade.
Munki, the album on which Cracking Up featured also sank without trace but this probably had as much to do with Creations reverse midas touch when it came to (under) promoting any of the other acts on its label who weren’t fronted by two mono-browed Mancs as it did with JAMC’s cultural irrelevance. But that made this single and the band even more important to me. Having been turned on into the band initially by a teacher in college a year or so before and armed with my pea-brained musical knowledge to those callow ears they seemed outdated, unfashionable even.
But then when I heard Cracking Up for the first time, that out of time sound had become a virtue, a comfort to me and briefly, I felt like this was my secret song. It was dark, moody, sleazy, fucked up and unlike any of the music my friends were listening to -although I came to realize having heard Definitely Maybe oh, roughly a million times over a period of several years thanks to said mates that Oasis had definitely borrowed a trick or two particularly on a track entitled Columbia which to these ears has the same riff as The Mary Chain’s 1992 track Teenage Lust – and it fueled my illusion of being cool and unique.
Cracking Up (1998)