What the fuck was that?

Those were the exact words I uttered on my introduction to Upside Down by the Jesus and Mary Chain.

A lot of people go on about the first time that they heard the Smiths and the effect that ultimate indie band had on them but I didn’t really get it. I am not here to slag off the Smiths, I really like some of the band’s output, however I never really got into that sensitive, Oscar Wilde quoting, 60’s kitchen sink drama side of them that some of the fanboys I knew did and as for the celibacy thing that was incongruous to a hormonally charged 15 year old.

What I’m trying to get at here is that I hadn’t had that Damascean moment that a lot of my friends had and I was beginning to wonder why not? I liked a lot of different music from Hendrix to The Clash and SLF but there was nothing that I was fanatical about, nothing that was mine.

Until that dark grey day at the beginning of 1985, a couple of months after the single’s release, when a friend gave me a compilation tape that his elder brother had made. I rewound the tape and played Upside Down over and over again which was quite painfully through the earphones of my red Sony Walkman. I just couldn’t get enough of the track. I had found my band, I thought. The track had everything, primal drumming, vicious feedback an underlying feeling of malevolence but beneath it all was a really catchy song.

I eagerly awaited the next single Never Understand, which didn’t disappoint and the glorious debut that was Psychocandy the merits of which I could bang on about all day.

My love affair with the Mary Chain dissolved with the third album Automatic which to this day I have trouble playing. I did, however continue to buy everything they released and the odd glimmer of genius is apparent on all of their subsequent releases just not in abundance as on the first 2 albums.

From the Jesus and Mary Chain I found the Velvet Underground and Can who, eventually, with the help of a certain Radio 1 DJ led me to The Fall .

Jesus And Mary Chain – Upside Down

Just what is needed on a Sunday morning to blow the cobwebs away.

I remember watching the band’s first appearance on the Whistle Test and looking on in awe until my mate, S broke the spell, saying “if that was John Lydon, the mic stand would have went over on the first attempt, they’re playing at it” which sparked a highly charged discussion.

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4 Responses to What the fuck was that?

  1. Simon says:

    oh you complete and utter bastard. I have a handful of JAMC tunes just sitting here, they’ve been a constant throughout the past few weeks to keep me alert and up for it. And your comparisons to the Smiths match mine completely; they were alright but the Mary Chain were the bollox.

    The first album stands up damn well; that screeching feedback still gets me!

  2. drew says:

    Sorry Simon but I had an urge to listen to Upside Down this morning and thought it would make a good post. There have been a few of these incidents, scarily similar music taste for an ex scooter boy and a mod. Speaking of which about 15 Lambrettas went through Lanark earlier while I was out with the pram I was looking on in envy.

  3. Artog says:

    It all starts for me with the Mary Chain. Whatever the fuck it was that was up with the Eighties they were the antidote. I came to The Smiths later and, on a less visceral level, probably, if I’m honest, enjoy them slightly more. Maybe it’s because I’m a Northerner.

  4. a Tart says:

    Oh lordy, well I got bitten by both those glorious boy bands… and yes they WERE boy bands, gentlemen. But JAMC bit me on one side and Smiths on the other and each took me in different directions, for which I’m very grateful to this day. Why must you bring back these awesome memories like this?!

    And I had to throw that “awesome” in just in case there was any doubt I wasn’t ‘merican hehehe

    anglophile til i die,
    xoxoxo

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