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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 22 October 2010
I've got to get right to the point here: This is essential listening for any proper music fan, especially fans of Rock music. I'm not going to list all the influences on The Jesus And Mary Chain's music as there are too many to mention. The band were totally music obsessed, to the point where they spent five years on the dole, sat in their bedroom crafting their genius plan - a combination of pop and chaotic noise - and stockpiled songs onto a 4 track. To give people a quick idea of the bands early sound think; the Ronettes, the Ramones, the previously mentioned Beach Boys and Velvet Underground, a twist of Einsturzende Neubauten and variation of Phil Spector treatment, and you could be close.

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!!!!!!!!!!!!
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on 23 November 2011
Being a fan of JAMC from Day 1, this is without doubt their most comprehensive Best Of Compilation to date featuring all their biggest hits plus previously unreleased tracks and B sides such as their incredible version of Syd Barrett's Vegetable Man. So why only four stars? Well for me there are two glaring omissions already alluded to by previous reviewers, Snakedriver and Coast to Coast, two JAMC classics. Personally, I would also have like to have seen the inclusion of the extended versions of April Skies & Happy When it Rains which as far as I am aware have never been released on CD. Having said that, this is still an essential buy for new fans and old fans alike. Jesus and Mary Chain, as it says on the cover, are arguably the last great British Rock'n'Roll band and sadly greatly underrated. Their influence is still very evident in todays alternative music from the likes of BRMC, The Raveonettes and The Manhatten Love Suicides to name just a few.
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on 4 June 2012
OK so I admit it - at the time, along with many others I was bemused by what attracted John Peel and other luminaries to them. They were loud, brash, confrontational, at times obscene and couldnt really play all that well either.
But now with the benefit of age, hindsight and in the context of what followed and all they inspired they were indeed the greatest rock and roll band East Kilbride and probably the UK has ever produced.
All modern music history is here - echoes of the Beach Boys, Everly Bros, Chuck Berry, Phil Spector et al come flooding out amidst the squalls of feedback and the couldnt care less attitude the JAMC displayed at the time - even the Gallaghers copied the fraternal enmity!
This attractively priced release contains almost all of their finest songs from the gorgeous sweep of Just Like Honey through to the curious false start of Cracking Up and even throws in the odd dud for balance just to show their essential imperfections.
As a concert going experience nothing comes close to standing right at the front at the Forum and feeling the sound travel through you as William embarks on one of those trademark solos that made all thse songs so instantly memorable.
An essential document of British rock and roll music.
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#1 HALL OF FAMEon 28 October 2010
'Upside Down' is a nice budget-price compilation that manages to blend material generally found on the '21 Singles', Barbed Wire Kisses' and 'Sound of Speed' compilations with selections from all their albums and a few oddities.

Having most of their material on vinyl or tape and not completely updated to CD, this was a budget price joy containing 44 tracks for £4. Some of the selections may be a bit random and two b-sides ommitted ('Taste of Cindy - acoustic' & 'Heat') seem a bit silly as they featured in a film ('Adventureland') and TV-advert (car? beer? can't remember) - so would have contrasted well with 'Just Like Honey' (now associated with the end of Lost in Translation). & not all the singles are included - 'Snakedriver' (which was included on '21 Singles' and a lead-e.p. track) is missing - instead 'Something I Can't Have' is included from that e.p (though the claim on the sleeve that all their singles are included isn't very accurate...and the sleevnotes also state 'Cherry Came Too' was from Automatic, which is sloppy).

Still, plenty of odd b-sides, from their early take on Syd Floyd's 'Vegetable Man' to a cleaner 'The Hardest Walk' (recorded for 'Some Kind of Wonderful) to their fine cover of Leonard Cohen's 'Tower of Song' to 'Some Candy Talking' b-side 'Psychocandy.' Plenty of great singles - 'Upside Down', 'Never Understand', 'You Trip Me Up', 'Just Like Honey', 'Some Candy Talking', 'April Skies', 'Happy When It Rains', 'Darklands', 'Sidewalking'...

Though the 'Automatic'-material has a production that thinks it's Suicide, but comes across as 'Midnight to Midnight'-Psychedelic Furs blended with Billy Idol's 80's material. By the early 90's the Mary Chain had Stone Roses' style drum-beats (think 'What the World is Waiting For') and weren't completely convincing. Still, 'Far Gone and Out' is pleasant enough and 'Sometimes Always' with Hope Sandoval is thoroughly charming. Even towards the end the singles were strong - 'I Hate Rock & Roll', 'I Love Rock and Roll', 'Cracking Up' - and the new track 'All Things Must Pass' (recorded for TV's Heroes) is fine and suggests the Reid-brothers should think about a new LP.

It was a fairly enjoyable career, despite the fact the Mary Chain were eclipsed by many of the bands they influenced in the early 90's - still, it's churlish to sniff at a double-cd that includes such wonders as 'Kill Surf City', the 7" of 'Sidewalking', early b-side 'Happy Place', the Shane MacGowan-fronted 'God Help Me', and the pure noise of 'In a Hole.' Lovely and the ideal budget primer into a fairly great band...
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VINE VOICEon 18 October 2010
The Jesus & Mary Chain emerged in the mid eighties, a time when I had largely lost interest in music, especially new music. For years they were just a name to me who appeared regularly on the late evening John Peel sessions, which I never listened to by that time, and no more.
It was only many years later that I first heard their music and this was their biggest hit April Skies on an indie compilation. I loved the track, believing it to be one of the best on that compilation, and decided to investigate the band further. I purchased their second album Darklands that contained April Skies. There were more excellent tracks on that disc: the brilliant title track, Happy When It Rains and the wonderful Cherry Came Too.
I then purchased the previous album, the highly acclaimed debut Psychocandy. However this was too atonal for me, full of the band's trademark guitar feedback rather than the more lyrical pop style of Darklands and I let it go. I was never moved to buy any more albums by JAMC until the first hits collection 21 Singles which came out in 2002. This was an excellent compilation, although it did omit the brilliant Cherry Came Too as that wasn't ever a single.
This new compilation far and away exceeds 21 Singles as it contains everything on that collection, except Snakedriver, and being a double cd features another 22 songs including Cherry Came Too.
The Jesus & Mary Chain were actually a bizarre cross of the pure pop sensibilities of the Beach Boys laced with the atonal feedback derived from The Velvet Undergound; incredibly this unlikely combination mostly actually works. The JAMC themselves then became an influence in their turn on later bands such as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and the whole `shoegazing' scene.
Some of the JAMC songs such as the four already mentioned together with Just Like Honey and Some Candy Talking are as glorious as any pop music created by anybody anywhere. There are also other excellent songs such as Happy Place which weren't on the previous compilation; however there are a number of the early atonal pieces such as Upside Down, You Trip Me Up, Never Understand and In A Hole, which for this listener at least make for pretty hard going.
Even though there are ultimately only a handful of really great tracks much of this generous compilation is well worth listening to and all the JAMC most listeners would need, easily making 21 Singles now redundant.
There are liner notes giving some background to the band, however there are also a number of mistakes in the track running order on the inner listings. Cherry Came Too is listed as track 21 when it is actually 13, it also says it comes from the album Automatic when it was actually on Darklands, whilst the tracks Between Planets and Nine Million Rainy Days are also listed incorrectly in the running order on the inside. Fortunately all are listed correctly on the back and the slipcase, but this poor quality control is slightly irritating.
Nevertheless this is now the definitive collection and the only one most people will ever need of this always interesting and occasionally glorious band.
However I would disagree with the extravagant headline claim on the back of the cd that they were arguably the last great British rock n roll band. I think fans of Oasis and the Stone Roses to name but two would have something to say about that!
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on 30 December 2013
Now I have a confession to make regarding this particular band, up until a couple of years ago I never really got it! but for the dare i say casual listener or possibly interested listener then this compilation is well worth the money?
Long time and more die hard fans than me will discuss the actual content in greater detail and what should or should not be included but for me this is a really great introduction to one of this country's most underated and influential bands.
This kind of music transcends all genres and only wants to make me investigate more, which surely is the whole point?
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on 10 July 2014
The Jesus & Mary Chain are quite simply the greatest rock & roll band in the world*. Many have imitated them but few have come close to that perfect blend of feedback and melody that makes them so unique. Possibly the most influential band of their generation as were the Velvets before. This best of is a good introduction although once you are hooked, you are going to want to buy the albums.

*(from East Kilbride.)
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on 5 January 2011
For some reason, my memory of JAMC is that of a band that made one classic innovative album ( the debut ) folowed by a hasty decline with an increasing lack of ideas over the following years. After taking a chance on this album, I realised what I'd been missing.
This is a superb compilation full of surprises, many of which I've never heard before. My only gripe? One of the best rock n' roll tracks of all time, " Coast to coast ", is not included.
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on 6 November 2010
I haven't bought this 2-CD compilation but felt obliged to comment, simply because I have bought every other studio and compilation album by the JAMC, except the 4-CD boxset, ever since their 1st Lp. When the JAMC appeared in the mid-1980s, with 15-minute long gigs and various scandals on their tail, they were a much needed kick in the @$$. Mixing punk chaos, blues-based riffalama and a pop sensibility like no-one else at the time (and, please, don't mention Billy Childish), they became my favorite band for this veteran of the punk wars and, to some extent, still remain very high on my list now. On these two CDs, you get some of the best R'n'R tracks of the last 25 years. Buy!
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on 10 July 2015
This is a great condensation of their Singles LP and their b-sides box set. The song choice is nearly perfect, and I'm so glad they included the soundtrack version of the Hardest Walk. (And I appreciated the double-jewel case packaging as well!)
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