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Psychocandy is the classic debut album byScottish noise Chimps the Jesus and Mary Chain
Just Like Honey
Basic plodding drum intro to this first track until our first taste of William Reid effect laden guitar adds a fuzzy dreamlike quality before we get Jim Reid's faux American drawl. Karen Parker add almost ghostly backing to this fantastic opener.
The Living End
After Just Like Honey almost gets us too relaxed the guitars are exchanged for what seem to be chainsaws in a desperate need of repair as William rips through a short sharp track with Jim burbling on about leather boots .
Taste The Floor
Sticking with feedback drenched guitars we set into what will be the formula for most of this album. This album almost seems like a showcase for William Reid's own brand of guitar abuse as the lyrics are practically hidden under layers of ear piercing noise.
Back to a more gentle pace and a rare melody. A light ( for them ) jangly but still fuzzy rhythm shares time with a solo that sounds like the chainsaw has finally given up the fight and been replaced by a drill. Again Jim competes to be heard over the one man racket but then what hes singing was never that important in the scheme of things.
Despite the grim sounding title this is along the lines of Just Like Honey with a slow tempo and an almost Birds like sound. This is where they also get way too carried away with that rhyming dictionary.
In A Hole
After a quick trip to the local DIY shop for more instruments we are back to the ear bleeding wall of sound like a Demon Phil Spector. Unlike most of the others this has a more energetic effort on the drums by future leader of Primal Scream Bobby Gillespie ( he quit the band about halfway through recording ).
Taste of Cindy
No idea who Cindy is must Jim cant get enough by the sounds of this, well what you can hear over Williams attempts to drown him out.
Some Candy Talking
Possibly my top track on the album. A nice jingle jangle sets you up what what could be Just Like Honey part 3 until its rudely interrupted by pounding drums and squealing guitar until they seem to get tired and drop the tempo for a rest. This Shows when given a chance Jim Reid can hold a tune but its not often he gets it.
They pretty much gave up on a tune here and just looked to see how long you can hold a note dripping in feedback. Bass and drums chug away while backing vocals from what sounds like a guy being killed help the 3 minutes fly by.
Even more of the same here , power tool sounding mayhem along with Jim sounding like he wished he was born across the pond.
An intro that could have been borrowed from Just Like Honey leads into a slightly dull track where the whole band just sounds knackered from the rest of the album. This track cant quite make up its mind if it wants to be the howl of a wounded animal or another mellow one and in the end becomes neither,
My Little Underground
The rhyming lyrics book takes a battering almost as bad as any guitar on here as Jim is challenged to rhyme as many words before the end of the song.
You Trip Me Up
Back to the effects pedal overdrive . A lot of these do sound very similar and to be fair the titles are pretty interchangeable , not that its a bad thing.
Almost at the end now and the pile of destroyed guitars must be getting dangerously close to falling. Yet another wall of feedback blasting out and obliterating anything else that dares reach our ears. Jim has even resorted to singing into what sounds like a jug to get an echo type effect on the go.
Its So Hard
Finally the guitars can be rescued by some kind of charity for battered instruments. This has a good sleazy quality to it and I know Ive focused more on the guitar in this and thats basically because the drumming and bass are so basic its hardly noticeable under the blanket of noise we get.
All in all a classic album and one thats obviously been studied by the likes of the Raveonettes and Glasvegas, so at least its spawned a few other decent bands ( take note Stone Roses ).
Brothers William and Jim Reid formed the Jesus and Mary Chain in 1984, signed up to the Creation label. They became notorious for 20 minute live performances, and were well-used to controversy (violence at gigs, druggy lifestyle and alleged drug-laden lyrics). Psychocandy was their first album, coming out in 1985.
The line up comprised:
Jim Reid and William Reid on guitar and vocals.
Douglas Hart is on bass
Bobby Gillespie is credited with drums on this album.
Gillespie was not in the original line-up, but he did play drums with them, for a while, in the days before he went off to form his own band Primal Scream.
Psychocandy has a great beginning, as all classic albums should have.
It starts with that pounding drum for all the world its just like a classic single, such as something like The Ronnettes Be my baby. Something very, very memorable, which immediately makes you get your ears into gear.
The song is Just like honey, of course, which I remember was the first single of theirs that I ever bought. Never understand and You trip me up (also present on Psychocandy) had been released earlier, but it was Just like honey that got me hooked. The song appeared on the soundtrack of Lost in Translation, so no doubt some younger listeners became hooked too.
On the best songs theres always those Jesus and Mary Chain trademarks the bass drum and otherwise the stripped down guitar and vocals, then the fuzzy feedback guitars coming in like a brilliant headrush. But the album manages to avoid sounding samey.
In a way, though, there are two basic styles - half the songs are great pop songs, the other half are terrifying bursts of noise.
Taste the floor is like an elementary Rock and Roll song. Aint she sweet or something by Eddie Cochran is the kind of thing that springs to mind when I hear it) Theres a song that the Beatles recorded in their very early days, called Three Cool Cats, which was originally recorded by the Coasters and the same tune is certainly detectable in Taste the floor.
Cut dead is a very stripped down song a 60s sound that drumbeat at the beginning again not quite Phil Spector, but theres a nod to him - with the tambourine. And the way the chorus ends up with just a da da da da da da also very 60s (think of the Troggs).
The hardest walk is a lot like the Hardest Thing by the Stone Roses, but since their debut album, on which The hardest thing appeared came out 7 years later, in this case we have to say that the Jesus and Mary Chain were the influence rather than being influenced!
The bassline on The hardest walk is great, by the way something which I didnt realise until Id listened to the album a few times.
Never understand is basically The Ramones with feedback. Its a cover of a Sex Pistols song.
This song with its dull thud, thud, thud ,and a quick thud-thud-thud sometimes to liven things up is the on that that makes me realise that the drums are probably the worst thing about this album. Sorry, Bobby.
Inside me has the hey hey hey line which they are so good at, and the drug influence is certainly here (Ive seen my head expand).
In a hole has a very intense vocal towards the end (with heart and soul cried out over and over) which is a lot like Mark Almonds in Soul inside, which was released in the early 80s, before this album was released. So, another influence there.
Taste of Cindy goes off key pretty soon, but theres still that great surf metal sound often the chord changes alone can convince me the songs still got a tune thats worth listening to.
Best song on a brilliant album is Some Candy talking.
Like many of the tracks, its clearly about drugs, well, heroin. It didnt get played on the radio very much for this reason, but was still a top 20 hit.
Some Candy talking is the nearest thing to a rush youll ever hear in music Reid says Talk! and its all unleashed, for you to just give in to it.
There are other bands who have emulated their sound - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and even popsters like EMF to some extent.
I know Ive mentioned lots of earlier influences, but the Velvet Underground have got to be namechecked its all there the druggy haze, the wonderful tunes, the blistering guitars.
The sleeve notes on the CD dont provide lyrics just some lines from some of the songs but there are plenty Internet sites where you can get the lyrics.
Psychocandy will remain one of my all-time favourite albums, without a doubt.
I'm currently listening to this album as I write this review. It's been quite a while since I last dug it out, and just put it on as I felt like playing something that hadn't graced my ears too recently. It's the first time I've listened and reviewed an album at the same time; it's quite an experience...Okay, it's no big feat! I love to waffle. Anyway, for those of you not too familiar with TJ&MC, all you really need to know is that this is their legendary debut album which started and closed an era of music all within one record, or it's what I'd like and have been led to believe. The shows and legends that co-incide with this release are said to have been monumental - riotous. You may remember opening song 'Just Like Honey' appearing not too long ago on a Guinness ad. People argue whether they're a punk or indie band or both, but they're basically a heavy pop band, and in fact that's probably how they want to be remembered aswell (the band called it quits about 1 or 2 years ago). TJ&MC on this record is the fluffy haired Reid brothers (Jim and William - check the album artwork) sharing guitars and vocals, with one Douglas Hart on bass, and some bloke called Bobby Gillespie on drums who left soon after to form some other band with him on vocals, um what's their name again?... Future electronica producer names Flood and Alan Moulder (Depeche Mody, Moby, Nine Inch Nails etc.) lend their engineering talents here with John Loder; the record is self produced. It sounds like it was recorded on a battered budget hand-me-down second rate tape recorder, maybe it was, who cares. It gives the record it's trademark buzzing, distorted, radio-like and psychotic edge. Whether this was a conscious or accidental effort, we'll never know; but it sure does rawk well! Probably one of the best records out in '85, I can't think of many. The 15 track album is basically a collection of brillian
tly written beautiful pop songs, of either the heavy, moderate or ballad variety; and all are encased in some degree of smashed machine production workings. It gives the album an overriding theme over the angsty vocals, buzzing guitars and simple but catchy rhythms. Apart from the lush 'Just Like Honey' (and it's sequel like 'Sowing Seeds'), other favourites of mine include the sublime guitar classics 'Some Candy Talking' and 'Cut Dead', the broken 'Taste Of Cindy' and 'You Trip Me Up', and the aborted surfer-rock of 'Never Understand', and both the last two buzzy sounding classics 'Something's Wrong' and 'It's So Hard'. I apologise for my following lack of reverence in explaining as I usually do on the intricacies of many of the songs in other album reviews, but this album is a body. Just like a severed arm is nothing without it's body, the same goes for the songs in this album; it's a cohesive collection. Yes there are song differences, otherwise it would be one long song, but trust me when I say the feel is consistent, this record is about the feel very much so. It's basically simple to sum up, yet no amount of words show suitable justice. It's just a great indie pop rock album with a harsh gritty arty edge. It's just a bunch of ace songwriting gems with pure emotion and great delivery, even in it's simplicity. If there is any gripe it's that maybe the production can be a bit painful on the ears at times; like when you tune into a radio station but are still lingering between another frequency. If you can tolerate that and appreciate the overall art and quality of the songwriting and delivery you will find that you'll be glad you bought this classic and pretty much legendary album. There are 1/2 personal duds on there, but not very many, and if I must, along with the non-traditional production, I'll give it 4/5 stars rather than 5, but o
nly just. The band and this album injected some well needed passion into the pasty mid-80's UK chart pop world, and thank goodness for it. TJ&MC I salute you, your (good) work is done; you may rest in peace!
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Just Like Honey
2 Living End
3 Taste The Floor
4 Hardest Walk
5 Cut Dead
6 In A Hole
7 Taste Of Cindy
8 Never Understand
9 It's So Hard
10 Inside Me
11 Sowing Seeds
12 My Little Underground
13 You Trip Me Up
14 Something's Wrong