Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Jesus & Mary Chain: 'Just Like Honey'

Initially playing in front of small mystified audiences, the brothers Jim and William Reid earned their notoriety by playing very short gigs, some lasting no more than 10 minutes.

Infact the songwriting brothers drew unwanted tabloid attention, when incensed audiences, battered by the constant feedback and distortion emanating from the stage, began to riot vigorously. Many shows culminated with the Reids trashing their equipment and the rioting became something of a tradition, as the bandwagon moved from town to town, inviting comparisons with the equally turbulent Sex Pistols.

But the musical graveyard is full of acts who courted trivial notoriety, The Mary Chain were always much more than trivial. Combining sweet pop melodies, à la The Beach Boys or Motown, with searing guitar noise, they proved to be a unique combination which ushered in a whole generation of shoegazing disciples.

Their stunning debut album has the guttural sound of The Stooges and The Velvet Underground with a strong flavour of 60’s pop, Phil Spector being an obvious influence. Just Like Honey for example borrows Hal Blaine's famous drum intro from The Ronnettes 1963 classic, "Be My Baby", produced and co-written by Spector.

The seemingly simple melody is backed by the de rigeur wall of echo, to achieve the requisite period sound. The effect is blanketed across the mix, with liberal doses applied to the spacey drums (played by a youthful Bobby Gllespie) and the blissfully naïve vocals. The guitars are allowed plenty of room to breathe, being strummed lazily to create a vast cavernous whirlpool. Something akin to drifting through a cloud in freefall.

Psychocandy (1985)

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