Published Feb 08, 2008It's been ten years since the release of their last album, the middling Munki, and finally there's some new music by Jim and William Reid to hear. Actually, that's exactly not true considering they've each been doing their own thing in this time (solo projects, Lazycame, Freeheat, Sister Vanilla with their sis Linda), but let's be honest here: these two Scots first and foremost will always be the Jesus & Mary Chain. Some reunion gigs in 2007 went smashingly, including a now legendary Coachella appearance that featured Scarlett Johansson singing "Just Like Honey" and sold-out gigs at the Wiltern in L.A., New York's Webster Hall and London's Brixton Academy, among other festivals.
As Jim puts it: "It amazes me that we can still play in venues such as the Brixton Academy, and that anyone cares enough to come." He's being modest — a typical Scotsman. The JAMC were birthed in an era that is so hungered for these days, and being one of the band's directly responsible for so many of today's best contemporary acts, he shouldn't be amazed. His band created a sound — sweet sun-soaked melodies buried under hissing feedback and buzzsaw guitars — so influential that it would be impersonated repeatedly yet never quite duplicated over the last quarter century. Add the infamous riots, the seminal Psychocandy, the criminally overlooked Honey's Dead and all sorts of memorable tunes like "Sometimes Always," "Head On" and "Cracking Up," among countless others, and they're primed for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — an honour they would no doubt cherish.
Describing the reunion on their MySpace page as, "2 brothers getting along for the sake of the music and brotherly love," the new line-up is a supergroup of their generation, with Ride's Loz on drums, Lush's Phil King on bass and Mark Crozer of International Jetsetters. These demos were originally streamed on MySpace, but have since found a home on file storage sites to download.
Far from the noise-driven days of their beginning, it's still quite interesting to hear where the brothers are looking to take the JAMC sound in 2008. "Boiling Over" sounds not unlike parts of Munki, using less of a straight pop structure and instead wandering like a rehearsal with some mumbling by what sounds more like William. "Cookies" is a lot more promising, using a softer mix of guitars to carry the harmonies with Jim's vocal like they did on the lite leanings of 1994's Stoned and Dethroned. "War On Peace" isn't the punker you'd expect from a title like that; instead it's a pretty diffident song that captures their underappreciated aptitude for writing tenderly - it's the best song out of these three. Finally, "All Things Must Pass" is the newbie they premiered at Coachella, and this recording from the fest is actually clean and listenable, revealing its potential to become a possible first single if and when a new album surfaces. It's got the memorable riff and chorus, as well as the familiar verse-chorus-verse songwriting style they used on their later albums not named Munki.
While we wait for the new album, there's plenty of old and unreleased music on the way. A Canadian domestic release of Rhino's reissues for Psychocandy, Darklands, Automatic, Honey's Dead and Stoned and Dethroned is tentatively scheduled for March 25. And even better and mysterious is a mouthwatering four-disc box set titled The Power Of Negative Thinking: B-Sides and Rarities, "consisting of rarities from throughout their career, including early performances, unheard demos, B-sides and bootleg recordings," which has had as many release dates so far as it does discs.
Find the JAMC album demos here.
The Jesus & Mary Chain "All Things Must Pass" (Live on Letterman)