Monday, March 12, 2007


Peel Sessions 44

The Jesus & Mary Chain, one of the greatest names for a group ever, and they knew it but this was not enough in the media obsessed eighties and so the band went out of their way to create the kind of headlines that Oasis would be proud of. The band came to surface at the tail end of 1984, I was to read of their exploits weeks after they took place thanks to the good old NME, as at the time I was living in Italy. It was with both a degree of surprise and pleasure that I consumed the stories of their twenty minute sets, their arrogant confrontation with their audience and the ensuing riots, now this sounded more like rock 'n' roll to me than some of synthetic music that the decade was to serve us. Unfortunately by the time the time I had moved back to London the rioting was over and the band were playing things by the rule book. It should come as no surprise that John Peel and John Walters wasted no time in inviting the Reid brothers in to lay down some session tracks, in total they graced those studios 6 times for the Peel show between 1984 and 1989. 'Just Like Honey' is taken from the February 1985 visit and included Bobby Gillespie bashing his drums in stand up fashion as if he was playing a session for the Crystals with Phil Spector in control, but the overall effect was much more menacing than a teen pop opera, the treble heavy guitar at times being the limit of acceptability and the vocals so far down in the mix that they are at times inaudible, but we loved it. By October the same year Gillespie had left to concentrate on Primal Scream, and the mood was, acoustic, but somehow they managed to retain a pleasing feel of menace as can be heard on 'Some Candy Talking' and what do you know we were all surprised to hear Jim's voice and above all how good it was. 'Sidewalking' comes from their penultimate session in May 1988 as does their rewarding cover of the Temptations 'My Girl'.
I finally caught up with the band in 1992 when they were touring 'Honey's Dead' at Le Rockstore, Montpellier. While I would not dispute that they were maybe past their prime in no way was their sell by date up. They were not the most visual of bands but this they more than made up for with both an impressive wall of sound and an equally amazing wall of lights. The menace was ever present and as for the volume it was probably the loudest gig I've ever attended, and I've seen Motorhead and next to the JAMC, Lemmy and the boys sound like a bunch of pussies, my ears were ringing for days afterwards! Thinking about it now I would say that the title of their 1988 B side and out takes compilation 'Barbed Wire Kisses' does a very good job of summing up the band, a bit like the sweet and sour of rock 'n' roll.

Wise words:

saw them in Essen, Germany at the end of the Eighties, a gig which they were supposed to play as part of the John Peel Roadshow. Peel didn't turn up alas, he was stuck in the UK because of storms in the Channel. JAMC were brilliant though, most of time they faced their back to the crowd and when they left - after only 30 minutes (bastards: the drive to Essen alone took me 4 hours) - they placed their instruments right beneath the speakers .... sometimes my ears are still ringing from this feedback ... some 20 years or so later ... never have I heard a band playing louder than them.

I saw them in Aberdeen, Feb '85 and they introduced me to the wonderful world of feedback as music. 20 mins of musical mayhem underneath a hail of plastic pint glasses before they walked off leaving us all wanting more.

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