Album Review – Jesus and Mary Chain

Jesus and Mary Chain

Jesus and Mary Chain -‘Live At Barrowlands.’ (Demon)

There they came. A band who took no prisoners, led by two brothers whose fractious relationship would see them put Alan McGee’s Creation records on the map and implode spectacularly a decade and a half later, having created some utterly spellbounding music, and releasing a debut album that would overshadow much of their subsequent output.

If you think that I’m talking about Oasis and the Gallagher brothers…well I could have been, but to many people, the Mary Chain did far more to shake up rock’n’roll than Oasis ever did. That debut album, Psychocandy, now celebrates its thirtieth anniversary. In doing so they paved the way for much of c-86 and shoegazing, and influenced an entire generation of people determined to push forward what guitar music could do. This, then, is a live document of the reformation shows which took place last year at Glasgow’s legendary Barrowlands venue.

While some artists create such a strong piece of work with their debut album that everything subsequent makes them look like Orson Welles, producing great work but unable to truly equal it (have you ever met anyone who seriously thinks that Lloyd Cole has equaled Rattlesnakes?), the Mary Chain did produce some great songs subsequently, and the album kicks off with a selection of these. So we get their two top ten hits ‘April Skies’ and ‘Reverence’. The latter is particularly strong, and indeed long, here. Rarely has nihilism sounded so utterly cool. We also get that astonishing debut single ‘Upside Down’, the banned from Radio 1 because it was ‘obviously’ about heroin ‘Some Candy Talking’ and the song ‘Psychocandy’ which wasn’t actually on the album. Alas, I wasn’t at the gig, but this truly brings me (and anyone else listening) as close as we will come.

Debate rages about whether bands should reform at all, and whether there’s any point in doing shows or tours which focus on one classic album. Whilst the thought of watching a dead horse being flogged may be depressing, I wonder how many of those who sneer really would rather starve than pay the bills and put food on the table. The fact is it may not be for money – classic albums are worth celebrating -and if they do it with as much style as the Mary Chain do it here, it underlines just how damn good the original record is. (And – here’s a thought – supposing you were too young to be there the first time round?)

So yes, the second part of the album is Psychocandy played in its entirety. From the opening ‘Just Like Honey’ to the closing ‘It’s So Hard’ what is delivered is a fantastic set that shows an album that truly is seminal, and which live sounds like it made the Barrowlands sweat rock’n’roll even more than it usually does onto its sticky floors. The brothers Reid – and their hired helps – were truly on fire on this night, and only added to an already impressive legacy. This is not an album to replace the original studio album, nor do I imagine it was conceived as such. It’s a welcome addition to their catalogue, and a reminder of why they were so utterly necessary.


Live At Barrowlands is released on Demon on July 31.

Some covers for Friday


Just what it says on the tin, folks. The plan is to get into doing these on a more regular basis, so I’m going to kick off with these:

Jesus and Mary Chain -‘Vegetable Man (Syd Barrett cover).’ mp3

Pop Will Eat Itself -‘Games Without Frontiers (Peter Gabriel cover).’ mp3

Motorcycle Boy -‘His Latest Flame (Elvis cover).’ mp3

Ash -‘Does Your mother Know? (Abba cover).’ mp3

Buffalo Tom -‘Going Underground (The Jam cover).’ mp3

Now, these aren’t mp3s but I thought they might appeal…

Back in 1993, Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream was my favourite album of the year. The Big Pink recorded a version of it for the BBC just before Christmas which you can stream here:

The Big Pink – Mayonaise (The Smashing Pumpkins Cover) by ErnestimesBlog

I have been slowly won round to Lana Del Rey. Not because of the fact that I had a problem with the way that she looks, but more to do with the excessive hype, and yet ‘Video Games’ and other tracks have won me round. This is a version by a band called Silver Swans, who do an excellent take on it.

Over the last few days, I have become increasingly obsessed with Belgian-Australian artist Gotye (pronounced like Gautier) whose track ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ looks like it might be a huge hit. I hope so. This is a version by a band called Walk Off The Earth.

Walk off the Earth – Somebody that i used to know (Gotye Cover) by Arygo

There’s numerous covers of songs by Frightened Rabbit around, but this is a version of a Frabbits song, as perfomred by John Stotz. The song is originally from their second album The Midnight Organ Fight.

Another track from my inbox, this is a Steely Dan song, performed by The Darcys:

The Darcys – Josie by Arts & Crafts

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

Some more covers for Friday

Just as it says on that there tin, folks… have posted many of these before, but what the heck.

Back from holidays soon, so expect more new stuff here.

Tom McShane -‘That’s All There Is (Nina Simone cover).’ mp3

Comrade Down -‘American Trilogy (Delgados cover).’ mp3

Cat Power -‘Wonderwall (Oasis cover; John Peel session.’ mp3

Cat Power -‘We Dance (Pavement cover).’ mp3

Jesus and Mary Chain -‘Vegetable Man (Syd Barrett cover).’ mp3

Teenage Fanclub -‘Nothing To Be Done (Pastels cover).’ mp3

Sia -‘I Go To Sleep (The Kinks cover).’ mp3

Schneider TM -‘The Light 3000 (Smiths cover -originally There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.’ mp3

Propaganda -‘Sorry For Laughing (Josef K cover).’ mp3

Grace Jones -‘La Vie En Rose (Edith Piaf cover).’ mp3

17 Seconds’ Readers rule!

17 Seconds is fortunate to have some very wonderful readers indeed.

Not only has one reader offered to send me a copy of Crawdaddy by the Darling Buds until I can get my mucky paws on a vinyl copy, but another reader, Graeme, has re-sent a copy of ‘Vegetable Man’ the Jesus and Mary Chain cover that I posted yesterday, only in m4a, which not everyone can access.

Jesus and Mary Chain -‘Vegetable Man (Syd Barrett cover).’ mp3

Bless you all. There will be more to follow (currently making my way through a mountain of marking…)

Cover versions from the 7"s…

…Just what it says on the tin. So as to keep up the covers posts but make sure I was posting stuff I hadn’t posted before, these are tracks I’ve ripped from the b-sides of 7″s in my collection.

First up, Eddy Grant was in the Equals in the late sixties, a mixed-race British reggae band when this was quite a radical concept. They reached no.1 with the song ‘Baby Come Back’ later taken back to no.1 in 1994 by Pato Banton and and the Campbell Brothers from those ‘Kings’ of the reggae cover version, UB40. One of the Equals’ other well-known songs ‘Police On My Back’ was covered by The Clash in the 1970s. Last year Grime or Grindie (Grime and Indie, DO keep up) Lethal Bizzle (above) covered the song, including a sample of the Clash’s version.

Lethal Bizzle -‘Police On My Back (Equals cover).’ mp3

‘What A Waster’ was the world’s introduction to the talents of Pete Doherty and the Libertines. Moldy peach Adam Green covered it on the b-sides of one of his solo singles ‘Emily.’ Pete Doherty returned the compliment by covering the Moldy Peaches‘ ‘Who’s Got The Crack?’

Adam Green -‘What a Waster (Libertines cover).’ mp3

This song was originally by X-Ray Spex, and Scottish indie-poppers Bis covered it on the b-side of their 1998 7″ ‘Action And Drama.’

Bis -‘Germ-Free Adolescents (X-Ray Spex cover).’ mp3

Atomic Kitten were or are a fairly irritating all-girl band in the early part of the decade, but the Sick Anchors saw the potential of this Andy McLusky (Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark) number and turned it into something quite heartbreaking.
The Sick Anchors were Aidan Moffat (of Arab Strap), Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai and Colin ‘Sheepy’ McPherson. This EP also included their version of The Fall’s Bill Is Dead.’

Sick Anchors -‘Whole Again (Atomic Kitten cover).’ mp3

In my humble opinion, Placebo‘s finest moment to date in their decade-plus long career is the single ‘The Bitter End.’ This was the b-side to the 7″ single , a cover of Boney M’s ‘Daddy Cool.’ Whatever that might sound like down on paper, it works really well, IMHO:

Placebo -‘Daddy Cool.’ mp3

The Wedding Present famously released 12 7″ singles, one a month in 1992. The August single was Boing! They all featured a cover version on the b-side, and that month’s was Isaac Hayes‘ Theme from Shaft.

Wedding Present – Theme From Shaft (Isaac Hayes cover).’ mp3

Ash have done some fine covers over the years, including their version of Abba’s ‘Does Your Mother Know?’ This song, a cover of John Lennon‘s ‘Give Me Some Truth’ was the third track on the 1995 7″ ‘Angel Interceptor.’

Ash -‘Give Me Some Truth (John Lennon cover).’ mp3

BONUS: Finally not an mp3 of any of the 7″s in my collection, but an m4a (will play in iTunes) of the Jesus and Mary Chain covering Syd Barrett’s Vegetable Man (THANK YOU, BEN!):

Jesus and Mary Chain – ‘Vegetable Man.’ mp3

Motorcycle Boy

Girl on a motorcycle…

Ever heard a track that within a few weeks of never having even heard it you can’t imagine being without? Well, that track for me is by the band the Motorcycle Boy and it’s their debut single from 1987 (and no.21 in the 1987 Festive Fifty) ‘Big Rock Candy Mountain.’ If you like the stuff I’ve posted by Edinburgh Legends The Shop Assistants, this might well be of interest: it’s their former singer Alex Taylor who united with Meat Whiplash to form the band. This was posted by Steve over at Teenage Kicks a few weeks ago, but I managed to find a copy of the 7″ this afternoon, so am deliriously happy and want to share this with you. Their stuff has long been deleted, andthey have nothing to do with the American band of the same name, so if anyone can help by sending mp3s or whatever, please do.

Motorcycle Boy -‘Big Rock Candy Mountain.’ mp3

Meanwhile, very chuffed by all the feedback my post on the Jesus and Mary Chain generated. One reader, Ben, got in touch to send the mp3 of the JAMC on television in America last year performing a song called ‘All Things Must Pass.’ So I am posting that here, as well as re-posting a Sister Vanilla track from last year’s Little Pop Rock where the brothers Reid were reunited and joined up with their sister Linda to make some pretty fine things indeed:

Jesus And Mary Chain -‘All Things Must Pass.’ mp3

Sister Vanilla – ‘K To be Lost.’ mp3

Enjoy the sunshine…hell, we’ve even got some here in Scotland.

Under The April Skies…

William and Jim Reid from the Jesus and Mary Chain. Even my hair’s never been quite that big…

It’s April, supposedly the cruellest month, but I’m on holiday. It’s now after midday in Scotland, so no April Fools here. Spring is starting to appear, though it would be nice if the aforementioned plumber would turn up, and the drilling outside would cease, shortly before I snap.

However, yesterday I finally got to meet JC, aka The Vinyl Villain and myself and Mrs. 17 seconds had a very nice chat with him for two hours in Glasgow. He is a very friendly guy and so what better toast him with than three tracks from the biggest thing out of East Kilbride, the Jesus and Mary Chain. And I’m not even posting anything from the debut (don’t get me wrong, I love it, but there is so much more to them than that.)

Jesus and Mary Chain -‘April Skies.’ mp3 (My introduction to the band, via Top Of The Pops in 1987)

Jesus and Mary Chain -‘Upside Down.’ mp3 (The world’s introduction to the Mary Chain in 1984. Signed by Alan McGee, the band indicated that they could make people’s ears and eyes come out on stalks. and that was before the riots started).

Jesus and Mary Chain -‘Blues From a Gun.’ mp3 (Just another great track…)

The brothers are supposedly reformed (as a band, not as characters) so I live in hope…

Some ‘Eighties’ Stuff?

Hi there…still off work and my head feels like it’s overworked…

Anyway…*sigh* here are a few songs, consider this a double post as I didn’t post yesterday.

There is no linking theme here, other than all this stuff came out in the eighties. It really is that tenuous.

One day I am going to do a post on the Ozzy-era Sabbath. Forget the TV show for the moment (though I’d much rather watch that than any other fly-on-the-wall thing), Ozzy has been responsible for some fantastic stuff. This is (obviously) from his solo career, and was later covered by none other than Pat Boone, as heard on the credits to The Osbournes

Ozzy Osbourne -‘Crazy Train.’ mp3

Guns ‘n’ Roses were lumped in with the hair metal lot, but they had more to them, which was probably why they crossed over. It would later all go horribly wrong, but this is where they managed to show you can write a love song that’s got balls. Later covered by Luna (will have to post that some day).

Guns ‘N’ Roses -‘Sweet Child O’ Mine.’ mp3

Utterly different sylistically from either of the above, The Specials and their later incarnation Special AKA wrote fantastic songs, and in some ways were the early eighties version of Massive Attack (if you stop to think about it). Anyway, ‘Ghost Town’ sums up not so much urban paranoia as urban fears coming true, while ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ helped to do exactly that. Where’s the 2000s’ equivalent, dammit?

Specials -‘Ghost Town.’ mp3

Special AKA -‘Free Nelson Mandela.’ mp3

This song’s african drum beats were later sampled for a rather cheesy dance number called ‘Sunchyne’ by Dario G (I think. I’ve not really spent the last ten years paying much attention to it). If this doesn’t move you, at least a little bit, then there’s no hope.

Dream Academy -‘Life In A Northern Town’ mp3

This song was banned by the BBC in 1986 because it was ‘obviously’ about heroin. What with Grange Hill -Zammo especially- telling us just to say no, and Boy George apparently having only eight weeks to live, it was getting a pretty scarey time to be a nine year old. (years later, when I sang in a band called She Will Destroy You, we opened our first gig with a cover of this).

Jesus and Mary Chain -‘Some Candy Talking.’ mp3

Weird, wonderful, and heartbreakingly sad, this must have been one of the most unusual records ever to make the Top 5.

Japan-‘Ghosts.’ mp3

Finally, another case of me having to eat my words. I hated this song in 1988, for some reason I didn’t get house music. Never mind, that 303 will get anyone in the end.

S-Express -‘Theme From S-Express.’ mp3

These links will be up for a week only. May my head and brain start to feel like normal soon, please…