33 1/3 Part 17


Jesus and Mary Chain -‘Psychocandy.’ (Blanco y Negro, 1985)

Once again, I cannot claim that this was an album that I was listening to when it came out. [Yes, I’m very impressed that your nine year old child regurgitates all the music you ask them to listen to instead of what their peers are. So sorry to hear that they’re not fitting in at school.] And in fact my route to this album was quite a long one, hearing several of their later albums before I got this album out of the library at school when I was eighteen.

Yes, amazingly, as well as trying to educate middle-class thugs about rugby and the like, my school got itself a library in which there was a CD library. You could only take out one CD at a time, but it had all the Smiths studio albums, the Cure, Lloyd Cole, Blur…and this was 1994 so it wasn’t bad, really. Every school should have one -as well as someone who makes sure that the kids can all have jotters (or exercise books as the sassenachs call ’em) before the staff get laptops.

Sorry…I was distracted there. Anyway…YES. Psychocandy. A slightly different beast on CD, being as it has ‘Some Candy Talking’ midway through. The song that was their breakthrough hit (apart from the fact Radio 1 banned it because it was ‘obviously’ about heroin). But an album that opens with the sublime ‘Just Like Honey’ a song bathed in honey, sweet, sweet feedback, as the twin gods of the Velvet Underground and Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd make love and produce something utterly sublime. Nearly twenty years later it made my heart soar as this played out over the closing moments of Lost In Translation.

Feedback is the name of the game here -and while by 1994 we had had grunge so knew music didn’t need to be clean-sounding – this was a revelation. And it still is, years later. I picked up a cassette copy a year or so after I left school and it was frequently in the walkman at uni, accompanying me up and down the hill in my battered biker jacket, mad hair and army boots, trying to resemble a cross between Ian McCulloch, Robert Smith and of course the Reid brothers (not very trendy in 1998, but at least I wasn’t listening to those infernal Ministry of Sound comps). It’s not just the singles, but the singalong choruses as they drift along in those feedback drenched waves of sound. It’s an album to lose yourself in and then find yourself in, alternately, or maybe even at the same time.

I never saw the Mary Chain live; they broke up at the tail end of the nineties, though they did reform for some dates in 2007. And while some will debate the merits of later albums -and they all have many, to these ears, the Mary Chain never topped this. But because I discovered it later, I guess I didn’t find myself disappointed by subsequent albums. It still makes this heart fly, and that ancient tape still lives in the car, while a second-hand vinyl copy lives on the shelf and a digital copy on the iPod. An albums for all seasons and all time.

Jesus and Mary Chain -‘Never Understand.’ mp3

Jesus and Mary Chain -‘You Trip Me Up.’ mp3

Jesus and Mary Chain -‘Just Like Honey.’ mp3

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