Jesus & Mary Chain
Consisting of Scottish brothers William Reid (vocals/guitars) and Jim Reid (vocals/guitars) along with Douglas Hart (bass) and Murray Dalglish (drums), Jesus & Mary Chain moved to London in '84 where they signed with Creation Records. Their debut single, the distortion drenched "Upside Down" made a dent on the indie charts. Later in the year, Dalglish was replaced by Bobby Gillespie, formerly of Primal Scream.
Jesus & Mary Chain, powered by amphetamine sulphate, soon made a name for themselves but not necessarily in a good way. They quickly became known for short sets (averaging 20 minutes) and a downright bad/snotty attitude reminiscent of the Sex Pistols. That's when they executed a change-up. Rather than blasting the walls with their next single, they released the dreamy pop oriented (for the U.K.) "Just Like Honey." Soon Gillespie was back with Primal Scream but no matter, Jesus & Mary Chain released their highly acclaimed '85 debut album "Psycho Candy" which featured another accessible single "Some Candy Talking" (a song allegedly about heroin). While all this was going on the group added John Moore on drums and signed with Warner Records for U.S. distribution. "Darklands" followed. It too won critical praise though not to "Psycho Candy's" level. A less than stellar North American tour seemed to stall their efforts. To keep fans happy between albums a compilation of out-takes, "Barbed Wire Kisses," was released in '88. The Reid brothers, operating more or less as a duo, using synth drums, distortion and studio tricks finally had a set of new songs. "Automatic" arrived in '90.
Next up was the acoustic "home recording" "Stoned & Dethroned." The singer-songwriter approach flopped all the way around resulting in Warners dropping the group. They moved to Def American for a pair of passable efforts, "Honey's Dead" ('92) and "Hate Rock N Roll" ('95). Picked up by Sub-Pop in '98, the Jesus & Mary Chain released "Munki" containing the single "Cracking Up." After that the Reid brothers set off on individual projects.
Jesus & Mary Chain made a name for themselves with songs ranging from distortion noise-fests ("Upside Down") to accessible Rockers ("Happy When It Rains"). In the U.S., they were more talked about than heard. So for all the buzz Jesus & Mary Chain generated during their career there is little left to show for it. "21 Singles" is just that. It covers the group's entire career and is an excellent introduction. "Psycho Candy" is usually available as an import and worth seeking out.
"Munki" is a strong set containing the riveting "I Love Rock N Roll" with its mixed down vocals and slashing beat. That song and the stark single "Cracking Up" are also on "21 Singles." The rest of the album tends to wonder here and there as the group tries different approaches. Overall the Reid Brothers succeed more often than they fail.