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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some Candy Talking
One of my favourite authors writing about one of my favourite bands, wonderful! I've been enjoying Zoe Howe's perceptive and sharp music books since the great Slits biog, "Typical Girls?" a few years back, and this is every bit as good. Apart from the main text, there's a really well put together timeline of the JAMC era, & it really took me back to the mid-80's...
Published 8 months ago by Mr. Den Browne

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Something's Wrong"
Zoe Howe has written a decent enough account of the Mary Chain’s rollercoaster career but with access to so many of the key players in the story the book really should have been one of those classic non-fiction page turners. Unfortunately it is a standard run through, albeit a very good one, of the band from start through to 2012.

All the expected stuff...
Published 7 months ago by Gary Clarke


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some Candy Talking, 10 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: Barbed Wire Kisses: The Jesus and Mary Chain Story (Paperback)
One of my favourite authors writing about one of my favourite bands, wonderful! I've been enjoying Zoe Howe's perceptive and sharp music books since the great Slits biog, "Typical Girls?" a few years back, and this is every bit as good. Apart from the main text, there's a really well put together timeline of the JAMC era, & it really took me back to the mid-80's and the inane blandness of the dominant pop scene then.

So it's amusing to find the little snippets I'd read in the NME about this strange new band from Scotland - who reckoned they'd already got their first three albums written in their shared bedroom at home & who played deranged 15 minute live sets generally resulting in riot and mayhem - were part of later Creation/Oasis mainman Alan McGee's desire to be the new Malcolm Maclaren. When put on to them by Bobby Gillespie, he reckoned he'd found his Sex Pistols.

Zoe Howe describes all this in fascinating detail, with some great anecdotes, and enough humour to leaven some of the darker aspects of the story (violence, alcoholism, rip-offs, drugs). Probably the book's strongest point is how willingly all the main protagonists - bar one - have been to talk at length to her about the many twists and turns in the group's career. In the end though the book easily overcomes the lack of direct involvement from the older Reid brother, William. There's been some serious background research, which has turned up plenty of quotes which do enough to show some of the differences between him and Jim.

That's an underlying theme which the author maintains throughout the book: the fact that however much the brothers fight, hate each other and fall out, neither is as good on his own and in the end they can't escape the symbiosis between them. Whether they like it or not, they need each other.

Like one of the other reviewers here, my enjoyment was enhanced by digging out a stack of old JAMC tapes and discs. If in any doubt as to the validity of a book about a couple of weirdoes from East Kilbride, just listen to the astonishing "Darklands" album and be transported back to 1987 - and a time when we really did need a pair of black-clad loons with freaky hair emerging from a storm of feedback and distortion to fight against the Stock Aitken Waterman tide.

Some more pictures would've been nice, but that's about my only gripe. Apart from the timeline and a handy "Where Are They Now?" feature (intriguing how many JAMC people have gone on to careers in design or graphic arts) there's a comprehensive JAMC discography too. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the formative days of the indie scene and anyone who's ever felt the timeless power of black leather and squalling feedback.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Something's Wrong", 11 July 2014
By 
Gary Clarke "beeclarke2" (Ipswich, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Barbed Wire Kisses: The Jesus and Mary Chain Story (Paperback)
Zoe Howe has written a decent enough account of the Mary Chain’s rollercoaster career but with access to so many of the key players in the story the book really should have been one of those classic non-fiction page turners. Unfortunately it is a standard run through, albeit a very good one, of the band from start through to 2012.

All the expected stuff is included – the mapping out of the band in the Reid brothers’ East Kilbride bedroom, the bafflement of sound engineers and producers when it came to the trademark Mary Chain feedback, the North London Poly riot, the fighting between Jim and William, the drugs, the booze and the breakup, and most importantly the songs. There are some lovely anecdotes in the book, like the story of future band member John Moore travelling to East Kilbride to see where his heroes hailed from and even buying a black shirt from Topman because he assumes this is where they must’ve bought theirs from. Former band members Bobby Gillespie and Douglas Hart provide the best insight into the early years as Jim still appears a little guarded about the band’s past and William refused to contribute to the book. The later years are covered in less detail which is a shame because I would guess most fans will know least about this part of the bands lifespan and would like to discover more.

A lack of real telling insight and investigation of the lives of the band members are the biggest weaknesses of the book. About three quarters of the way through we are casually told that Jim is married to someone called Julie but that is all we learn of her. Similarly we are told that Jim moves with his family to Sidmouth but not why. Is Julie from there? Does Jim like the sea? If the latter then why not move to Felixstowe?

There is a really handy ‘Timeline’ and ‘Sources’ section at the back which handily summarises the main points in the book and the expected ‘Discography’ is excellent.

If you’re looking for a standard run through of the Mary Chain’s career this book is for you. If you like your music books more along the lines of Peter Guralnick’s masterpieces on Elvis you’ll probably be left disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Far gone and almost out, 3 July 2014
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This review is from: Barbed Wire Kisses: The Jesus and Mary Chain Story (Paperback)
Bit lacking in real in-depth views on why they did what they did, and I personally would love more on how they recorded stuff but a good insight into their story... one of the finest bands ever IMHO, worth a read if you like music... always surprised that books like this don't come with QR codes or something that lets you play stuff (songs, interviews, videos) while reading them... music biogs need to be interactive.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book about a great band., 13 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Barbed Wire Kisses: The Jesus and Mary Chain Story (Paperback)
Zoe Howe does a fantastic job of bringing the Mary Chain story to life, charting their rise from a council estate in East Kilbride to their creative and commercial peak, and then back down again. She writes in a sympathetic, accessible style, and while she is obviously a fan, she doesn't allow this to colour her opinions too much. It's painstakingly researched, with input from many of the main players in the story, including Jim Reid (the nice one). Also included are a comprehensive discography and a timeline, which helps you put everything in context in the grand scheme of things.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Like Honey, 30 July 2014
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This review is from: Barbed Wire Kisses: The Jesus and Mary Chain Story (Paperback)
Read it within 24 hours and found the story to be highly informative and interesting. I learned a lot about one of my all time favourite bands and was never bored.

GREAT BOOK!
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5.0 out of 5 stars ... trawl through the turbulent history of one of the greatest British bands, 7 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Barbed Wire Kisses: The Jesus and Mary Chain Story (Paperback)
Superb trawl through the turbulent history of one of the greatest British bands. Filled with a host of surprisingly comical stories, especially when you consider just how dour the Mary Chain were. Much like the band, the book is over too soon and leaves you wanting more.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a must read for JAMC FANS, 3 Jun. 2014
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I COULD . NOT PUT BOOK DOWN and found myself putting albums on as I read my way thru this book ..just in time as well with announcement of UK tour for Psychocandy anniversary tour
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5.0 out of 5 stars comprehensive, 12 Jan. 2015
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Interesting reading. Knowing some of the people in the book back in the day it was great to have the story behind events.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it, 9 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: Barbed Wire Kisses: The Jesus and Mary Chain Story (Paperback)
The truth is that there are not enough books about the Jesus And Mary Chain. It's ridiculous because they're one of the greatest bands ever. Yet it's not the only reason I enjoyed reading this fantastic biography. I love a musician's biography when it delivers the exact feeling of listening to their music and it does that. This book covers almost everything that are publicly known about the band in a very organized manner. Being a fan for some time I think I know much about the band, but still I've learned something new reading this biography. One thing though is that I wish William had been properly interviewed for this book (it is clear in the book that the author had done her best with limited material).
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5.0 out of 5 stars rare, 8 Feb. 2015
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Excellent read a rare insight into the marychain
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Barbed Wire Kisses: The Jesus and Mary Chain Story
Barbed Wire Kisses: The Jesus and Mary Chain Story by Zoe Howe (Paperback - 19 May 2014)
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