on 14 July 2006
bought this album on day of release in 1985 as a 14 year old just gettin over being into queen and wham.heard never understand and thought what the hell have i been missing .totally changed my listening habits forever.no record before(and none since)has affected me so dramatically.every song on this album is a classic pop song,some are hidden behind layers of feedback ,others such as just like honey,and taste of cindy are perfect pop tunes.it influenced so many bands since from the brilliant(my bloody valentine)to the awful(black rebel motorcycle club).i stopped listening to this album about 15 years ago cos i had played it almost every day for 5 years.listened to it again last week for 1st time since,still had that same adrenalin rush like when i was a (very)spotty teen.the main point of this review though is ,at the end of the 80s nme did a poll to find the best and most influential album of the decade and psychocandy won ,yet when there is a reader/viewer top 100 poll psychocandy doesnt make the list,how can an album as great as this be so totally overlooked.its as tuneful as the stone roses,and as influential as ok computer ,which seem to dominate the lists now.people should go and listen to this album and give the jesus and mary chain the credit they deserve
on 18 December 2005
OK, you will of heard that this album is many things; grating, noisy, simple, beautiful whatever. One thing that you have to remember is that when it was released it took apart the music scene at the time. Emerging out of the dross that was electro-pop, thumbing a nose at the pretty boys of DD and Wham etc, this album (and subsequent live shows) defined a whole era of alternative music to follow ( MBV, Pixies et al) that is now going through a re-surgence. The basis of all the songs are simple 12 bar, but it is the imagination of the Reid Brothers to craft something unique at the time that is the genius of this recor. To the generation that heard Psychocandy for the first time, it had the same impact as Nirvana's Nevermind a decade later. Buy it, play it and remind yourself that British Indie music has everything to thank this album for.
on 30 January 2001
The first few times you listen to Psychocandy, virtually all you hear are shards of feedback, Jim Reid's monotone mumbling and the echoey thud of Bobby Gillespie's drum. Nothing wrong if you like that kind of thing, but the more you listen, the more you become aware that every song has a tune buried beneath the wall of white noise. Noise-for-noise's-sake is one thing, but using it to cunningly disguise the fact that you are, in essence, a pop band was, and still is, something else entirely.
There has never been an LP quite like Psychocandy. It still sounds as scary now as it did back then. It remains totally unique; oft imitated, but never bettered.
A whole plethora of experimentation went wild on the skin, shredded noise from six metal strings and crooned, screamed, dipped and soared in the 80's, a time of unremmitting experimentation. All drawn from the 50/60's alchemical sounds, the 70's boot into the door and 80's peers.
Jesus and Mary Chain were part of the stable, fitting in with Sonic Youth who supported them at Hammersmith Palais, Fall, Lydia Lunch, Swans, Butthole Surfers, Wire, Big Black, Neubauten, Laibach, Death In June, Nick Cave, Scientists, Moodists, Test Dept were all part of oeuvre.
JAMC built their life raft out of the outer fringes of Glasgow by listening and then becoming a Velvet Underground pathway soothed in big sound reverb. The vocal melodies played along to the bass, a Joy Division innovation taken from reggae, doused in Phil Spector big perfomance sound. The whole package coated in a sneer and powdered in brown dust.
Played it recently and the bottom end failed to shift. Never noticed at the time as the playback equipment was rudimentary, it was the exictement of the innovation that captured the senses. The template even more than the Pistols has been battered to death by a thousand inferior copies. Other peers took elements and reinvigorated the template; Death In June and Nick Cave were darker the Scientists and Moodists were...moodier and more angst ridden. Big Black more ferocious, Swans and Sonic Youth far more experimental. Butthole Surfers far more mad and Wire more sweeter, Lydia more bitter and Mark E Smith out to lunch.
All part of the same supernova. JAMC took one aspect of a wider canvas and then the copyists in the indie cannon fodder who appeared afterwards narrowed their focus even further. This eventually became pastiche, the sweetest of melodies embroiled in the harshest of sound.
Eventually JAMC ditched the noise and sang straight. They lasted for a further 4/5 albums. Experimentation shifted as JAMC raised their arms towards stadium rock. They failed and the whole edifice deflated with the aplomb of a pin pricked souffle.
This album is a diamond amongst the muck of the corporate rock hurbis, the flip side of the 80's.
This music is for sweaty clubs, the squat land of Berlin, the new factory's yet to be be unleashed. It is the noise of love coated in turmoil, just like honey.
on 27 June 2003
Let's put this in perspective. In 1985, the charts were encrusted with soulless, cynical commercialism (sound familiar?)and yet within the potent 'little underground' rock's consistent capacity for rebirth produced at least three of the greatest records of the decade - The Smiths 'Meat Is Murder', New Order's 'Lowlife' and this - certainly a candidate for the top 10 greatest debut albums. Like any perfect debut it draws the listener into a consistent, exhilirating new world that encapsulates a style, a sound and an attitude (black, black and er...black), in short, it blows you away.
The influences may now seem well worn - the quintessential cool of the Velvet Underground, the three chord simplicity and inventiveness of punk and the early 60's beat groups (The Strokes, anyone?), but the combination with elements of Spector's 'wall of sound' and the genius stroke of immersing elegantly constructed gems in shards of feedback was a revelation.
So, let's put this in perspective, back in 1985, I was 16 years old and this record (amongst those others mentioned above) dominated and drenched my life, so much so that I've been unable to return to it until now. I still marvel at the songwriting and amidst any of today's offerings, it more than hold's it's ground. In amongst The White Stripes, Eminem and Gareth Gates, I wonder how it sounds to 16 year old ears today? But this now, buy a guitar and be in black.
on 3 April 2003
In 1985 the Reid Brothers emerged after years plotting away in their bedroom exactly how their band would look and sound. They wanted to take the 80's music scene on and destroy it with noise. They took every rock cliché - the shades, the leather, the attitudes and songs about motorbikes - and then blasted it back into relevance with the then radical notion of covering pop tunes with a hideous noise racket. Nowadays Psychocandy sounds conventional such is it's greatness.
The Jesus and Mary Chain took a lot of their blueprints from the Velvet Underground. They used the same simple drumbeats, the feedback and dark lyrics. Behind all the noise and feedback of every song on this album there lies a cracking simple pop tune worthy of the greatest 60's girl vocal group. This album is full of great moments, from the fuzzy melody of the opener Just Like Honey to the way Jim Reid could sing "She takes me back again, and I see something" and somehow make it rhyme. Every single track on this album is a classic, and this is the only album I've owned that I've never skipped a track on it. There is not one dull moment.
One small complaint I have is the presence of Some Candy Talking on this reissue. Some Candy Talking is a fantastic song but I don't really think it belongs here on Psychocandy, poping up halfway through as it does. Some Candy Talking was released as a single between Psychocandy and Darklands and it is much closer in tone to Darklands than Psychocandy. It doesn't fit on this album and it sticks out as a different style. It would have fitted much better on the Darklands reissue, or better still on Barbed Wire Kisses. The song interrupts the flow of the original album. I guess I'm just too used to the original tracklist and I'm nitpicking. Most people who haven't heard this before won't even notice.
This is very probably the best album ever made by anyone. It's influenced just about every indie band who've been around since whether directly or indirectly. It's one of those absolute classic albums that everybody should own and it's still my favourite album ever. Psychocandy manages to be both the noisiest AND poppiest album of all time all at once. Buy it and it will change your world.
on 14 March 2012
Along with The Smiths these guys are crowned as the savers of 'guitar music' of the 80's. Now everyone rants and raves about The Jesus & Mary Chain but most don't go further than 'they're cool' in way of an explanation as to why they like them, but I'll try and go further than that.
They are punk rock; the sound, the attitude and the live gigs, often played not facing the audience and ending in a riot after only a few songs, all make them unique hailing from an era of New Romantics and Synthpop. And they did guitars like no-one else before them, William made the songs squeal with a thick, reverb ridden, distorted racket. Underneath the layers of fuzz and noise though are absolutely perfect pop tunes, songs like Just Like Honey, Hardest Walk and Cindy wouldn't sound out of place on a daytime BBC radio show if they'd of just been striped of their guitar onslaught. Then with songs like Candy Talking it's already there, really perfect jangle pop (very much what Bobby Gillespie took from JAMC for the first Primal Scream album), these are songs that even my Mum likes, they are that nice to listen to.
Of course there's the heavier tracks as well, these may not appeal to those BBC 2 listeners, but to me the contrast makes the album. Motorbike orientated The Living End is a song that Alex Turner wishes he had the bollocks to write, full on filthy Rock 'n Roll the way it's meant to be done, songs like In A Hole aren't far behind and the ender It's So Hard with the fuzz turned up to a new level, where the guitar screech throughout the short, sharp 2 and a half minutes, but that's all it needs to get the point across.
By the end you know you have listened to something truly unique and that maybe no other band will make such a masterpiece in the same vein again*. The bench mark is up there now still in my mind with no other band yet to top it, it cannot be perfected as the originators perfected it themselves, and with only one record.
*Some may argue Loveless topped this, and in my mind it is a better album, but at the same time I put them in different leagues. My Bloody Valentine made beautiful, lovely dream-pop where as The Jesus & Mary Chain make all-out rock 'n roll. Despite similarities, I struggle to compare the two.
on 16 February 2011
Psychocandy paved the way towards shoegaze, by infusing dream-pop (already established way back in the 60's with songs such as "Sunday Morning" by The Velvet Underground) with lots Beach Boys style melodies with layers of ear shredding feedback and distortion, complemented by Jim Reids slurred vocals. Though no doubt an important album, the Jesus And Mary Chain didn't invent dream-pop, they didn't invent noise-rock and they didn't invent acid-rock. They just found the common denominator between them. Sometimes its just about being at the right place at the right time.
Every song on Psychocandy is the perfect pop song, each song is the perfect length, it never loses its focus and it still sounds so fresh. Perfect 50s/60s style surf-pop songs buried under a thick layer of feedback, distortion and fuzz, I'll never know how the band managed to find such an irresistible balance between noise, melody and harmony but The Jesus and Mary Chain did it and this is one of the best things my ears has ever experienced.
However I must admit at first I didn't get it, but the sonic torture this album puts you through is so strangely addicting. There's so many different divergent aspects of the album that meet so perfectly. One moment I'm concentrating on a poppy and catchy melody, but then my attention will be slammed in reverse to the reverberating slabs of noise. Another moment I'll be smiling at the sweetness of the melodies, but a second later I'll feel like head banging to the massive beat matched with a wall of guitars. It really shouldn't work, but because it does it's amazing to listen to. A distorted and destructive nightmare-version of pop music, this is really quite marvellous: simple yet beautiful pop on the inside, rather nasty noise on the outside. What makes this concept work is that the songs themselves are great,
With a punk attitude which got them called "the new Sex Pistols", complete with fights against the audience and stage destruction, the Jesus and Mary Chain's charm laid on its ferocious noise layer which sets the decibel bar at the highset possible. However loud they were, they still had their commercial appeal, with an average track length of 3 minutes and with lyrics dealing with car crashes and crashing relationships with honey drenched girls or the knife in the head of Cindy. Some bands come across better live than they do on record and in this particular case I think that could be true, to fully appreciate the sound you need to be immersed in it.
The time was 1985 the alternative scene was ruled by The Smiths who were peaking and Echo and the Bunnymen were turning "Pop". The time was right for something different. The Scottish duo of brothers Jim and William Reid took the invention of power-pop melodies of The Beach Boys mixed with the "Wall of Sound" production and the feedback distortion of The Velvet Underground to make a complete innovation. Furthermore, synthesizing the simplicity of the Ramones and the fury of the Sex Pistols, the siblings boasted their elementary arrangements into something rebellious and at times, utterly tender, utterly blissful.
This is there most intense recorded as they mellowed out in subsequent recordings. Although it could be argued that JAMC were nothing more than retro it's amusing to think that some of the Britpop bands of the 90's looked to JAMC for inspiration, like Ride for example.
This album shows that using a minimalist approach to song writing is not only fair and effective it can be beautiful and its fair to say that in this particular instance that can be quite hard. The Reid brothers had an irritating habit of rhyming the most obvious pairs of words (fast/last, away/day) but as a whole the lyrics were pure pop gold. The noise isn't a cop out, covering up mediocre songs with a wall of noise, like some claim be cause somebody else could have just as easily turned these songs into a classic jangle pop album had the distorted guitars been replaced with clean guitars, and the hollow production replaced with clear and bright production. The great melodies and songs are definitely there. I think that's the essence of its charm. My belief is that they are actually sticking two fingers up at the industry.
Thank God they got away with it
on 28 February 2013
There are insufficient superlatives available to express my deep love for this record. It is quite possibly the very best debut, the coolest LP, the most fully realized vision, very best guitar rock but without any doubt it is the best pop record of the 80s. In terms of lyrics, music and overall song writing sensibilities it is perfect pop. Don't get me wrong this may not be the sweetest bubblegum but it sure beats everything else that decade had to offer.
Many reviewers mistakenly focus on the bands use of feedback on this record - don't be fooled there is real substance behind the noise. That substance is the perfect pop found on "Just like Honey", "You trip me up" and "Cut dead" - genuine teenage melancholy; it's beautiful. Without doubt there is an edgier side to the record found on the likes of "Living end", "Taste the floor" and "Inside me" but the band's pop sensibilities still run strong.
The record isn't a perfect album, it is essentially a collection of tracks that should have been released as 7 inch singles - in true respect to the golden age of popular music.
As a forty something male who is increasingly aware of his own mortality this record serves as a slightly distorted reminder of simpler heady times that still resonate as a blue print for what's cool. I am so happy that the JAMC have never been popular ( in the way of Quasis or Blurt) - it gives me an innate sense of being a genuinely cool curmudgeon.
on 8 October 2010
In a recent edition of retro music magazine Mojo Super Furry Animals Gruff Rhys was asked, if push comes to shove, what is your all-time favourite album? His response was pretty level-headed. He said:
"This changes every week, but it will be difficult for anything to ever match the head rush felt by listening to Psychocandy by The Jesus And Mary Chain as a 15-year-old."
I can kind of see Rhys's point. I had a similar experience. It is one of a select few albums that I have instantly played again after first hearing (such as Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Queen Is Dead, Never Mind The B*llocks, and Closer).