Upside Down: The Best Of Double CD
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A huge name on the 80s and 90s indie scene, the Jesus And Mary Chain were a seminal name in British guitar music and played a huge part in shaping the way music sounded for years to come. Upside Down is a proudly compiled and constructed 2CD career-spanning Best Of and is the very first of its kind for the Glaswegian brothersand the various other band members involved.
This release coincides with the release of a documentary feature film `Upside Down: The Story Of Creation
Records' which is backed by Sony Pictures and features interviews with the Jesus & Mary Chain (as Creation's first big act), and like this compilation is named after the band's first single. There is an interest from the producers towork with us on cross-promotional opportunities including a big launch parties and
screening parties up and down the country.
The band continue to tour since their reformation in 2007, recently headlining the Coachella Festival in the US and the Meltdown festival over here.
Their songs crop up frequently in TV and films, most notably in recent years the Sofia Coppola film "Lost In
Translation" which made great use of the classic "Just Like Honey". Their unique feedback-saturated sound
is increasingly influential and acknowledged by a new generation of guitar bands such as the Raveonettes,
Horrors,Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Dum Dum Girls and Wavves
* 2CD collection featuring all their single `A' sides, key album tracks and rarities including guest appearances by Shane MacGowan (The Pogues) and Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star).
* Includes 2 UK Top 10 UK chart hits ("April Skies" no. 8 in May 1987 and "Reverence" no. 10 in Feb 1992) and 10 other singles that charted in the top 40.
* Features 2 tracks never before featured on a Jesus And Mary Chain release - 2008 recording "All Things
Must Pass" (recorded for the NBC TV programme "Heroes") and "45 RPM" (previously only available on a long-deleted mid-90s XFM compilation).
To declare, as this CD’s artwork does, that East Kilbride’s The Jesus and Mary Chain are "arguably the last great British rock’n’roll band" is almost as provocative as the music with which they kicked off their career. Early releases may have been deeply influential for plenty of artists that followed – like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Horrors and shoegazers galore – but whether such a superlative is justified remains questionable.
The Reid brothers’ 1985 debut Pyschocandy, represented here by the deliciously fuzzed-up Just Like Honey and the trebly squall of tracks like Never Understand, still remains one of the most exciting records of the last quarter-century, its alternating mess of screaming feedback and narcotic acoustics shaped by a love of Phil Spector’s production techniques, 1960s pop and biker mythology. 1987’s Darklands – which saw Bobby Gillespie leave to focus on Primal Scream, his single drum replaced by a machine – found the brothers’ fierce rage ousted in favour of a shadowy languor accessible enough for April Skies to chart, though the latter’s similarity with follow-up single Happy When It Rains hinted at limited horizons. But with 1989’s Automatic they already seemed to be a pastiche of themselves, the thunder of the previous year’s stopgap single Sidewalking often neutered by heavy-handed, programmed drums.
Automatic’s considerably slicker production, however, endeared them to the US, and by 1994’s Stoned & Dethroned they seemed to have entirely lightened up, its highlights – the dreamy Sometimes Always and the languid God Help Me – tellingly featuring guest vocalists, respectively Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval and The Pogues’ Shane McGowan. But 1998’s Munki saw them re-embittered, I Hate Rock’n’Roll’s nihilist roar and Jim Reid’s lazily drawled Cracking Up amongst the best moments of their career. Sadly the public had moved onto the laddish, self-indulgent pleasures of Britpop, and few noticed when the brothers separated amidst the kind of fraternal acrimony that had ironically become part of Oasis’ appeal.
Ten years later, however, they returned with triumphant shows at California’s Coachella Festival and London’s Royal Festival Hall, and this retrospective – complete with non-album singles like the unforgettable Some Candy Talking – offers plenty of good reasons. In its generous 44 tracks, however, it also reveals a band with a surprisingly conformist agenda, the simplicity of their songs as often one dimensional as powerfully immediate, their later tightness at odds with their chaotic genesis, their reliance on trad’ rock’n’roll Americanisms overshadowing more exciting (if admittedly crude) lines like "I want to die just like Jesus Christ". Upside Down therefore ends up highlighting that, despite their current sacred cow status, The Jesus and Mary Chain were merely an occasionally great British rock’n’roll band rather than the last.
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Top customer reviews
Even though the JAMC had an obvious impact on the `Shoegaze scene' I wouldn't really put this band in the same category because I feel they had so much more to offer than just fuzzy distortion and feedback. Much of the criticism of the band is that they didn't often move away from a formula of 3 chords and their trademark guitar noise, but whenever they did make a different record (i.e. Stoned & Dethroned) they got panned for that too! So they really couldn't win either way but what makes this band so special is that they stuck to their guns, did things their own way, and were completely committed to their cause - to make brilliant records!
So... If you're not already accustomed to the band's sound you could be put off by the sheer noise on much of this album, but after a couple of listens the pop melodies and structures will shine through, showing how well the band understood both pop music and the music made by their rock'n'roll predecessors. Also, I will mention that I can't really recommended `Upside Down' to people who worship at the altar of the `guitar', or love Steve Vai, because this band were never technically minded and often sound like they're bashing their guitars against amps (which they probably did). However, if you love chugging power chords, bucket loads of overdrive distortion and reverb, place your order now!!!! I must stress though that the whole album isn't full on noise and there are much lighter moments on tracks like 'God Help Me', 'New York City' and `Drop' (also covered by Hope Sandoval.)
This compilation is a fantastic introduction for new listeners and covers most of their singles, a handful of tracks from each album and a few B-sides. It also contains `All Things Must Pass' from the series `Heroes' and a previously unavailable song (on any JAMC record) `45rpm'. Basically what you've got here is wall to wall brilliant songs and I couldn't pick out a weak track even if I tried, but I am a huge fan of the band so I suppose that's just me. For today's music listeners, this album will be of particular interest to people who like the Ravenottes, A Place To Bury Strangers and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.
If you missed out on the previous '21 Singles' or can't afford `The Negative Power Of Thinking' get this because it really does what it says on the tin, it's the best stuff on one album. It's missing a couple of other classic songs, `Taste Of Cindy' and `Snakerdriver', so it's not completely perfect but almost! If I had to make one bad comment about The Jesus And Mary Chain, it's that THEY DIDN'T MAKE ENOUGH RECORDS!!!!!!!!!!!!
There have been a few attempts to explain their longevity, and their influence upon bands like Glasvegas and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. However, most of those efforts – such as Rhino's The Power Of Negative Thinking: B-Sides And Rarities (Digital Version) - have tended to focussed on the less familiar parts of their back catalogue. Whereas this generous 44 track double CD, which runs from 1984’s ear-splitting title track to 2008’s ‘All Things Must Pass’, features all 10 of their UK Top 40 hits and some of their key album tracks.
That isn’t to say things couldn’t be improved. Most of their attention-grabbing singles are on the first CD giving Upside Down a bit of a lopsided feel, and there is no sign of their abrasive covers of The Beach Boys ‘Surfin USA’ and Bo Diddley’s ‘Who Do You Love?’, despite the fact that they were considered good enough for the well-named Barbed Wire Kisses.
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