The Jesus And Mary Chain 21 Singles (rhino/wb)
Thursday, July 25, 2002
At the time of their arrival from Scotland in the middle 80's, this band-the Reid brothers and assorted cohorts, including Primal Scream drummer Bobby Gillespie-were regarded, like their namesakes, as saviors. Not of the human race, but of rock and roll. At their inception, TJAMC were directly antithetical to the antiseptic hooey all over the Reagan-era airwaves. Deadpan, cynical and above all, totally feedback- and distortion-drenched (not to mention overtly pro-drug), these guys seemed like revolutionaries.
In retrospect, however, they really weren''t. The Chain''s act was basically grafting the Velvet Underground''s embrace of ugliness and marrying it to the Ramones'' sense of cheery, insane pop. Not to mention the fact that, at the same time that they were burning up the presses and causing riots in Europe (for 15 minute sets), Americans like Husker Du were doing the same thing faster, meaner and in many ways, much better. Still, this overview shows how their desire to make successful radio fare derailed them (not unlike the Ramones or Lou Reed, ironically).
When they didn''t know better, as on the blistering "Some Candy Talking" (pure noise plus melody) and the melancholic suicide anthem "April Skies," they rated among the greats; when they decided to tame William Reid''s guitar, as on the forced outrageousness of "Revelation," they were basically Goth-lite, call them "One Inch Nails."
As trips back into Neanderthal Era (the ''80s) go, this is still a great one. If you can over look the castration factor that rendered them as FM-altie ordinary, you can hear some of the saddest and most powerful rumble of the last 50 years. A definite recommend.