Thursday, March 01, 2007


I was listening to the Jesus & Mary Chain's 21 Singles today, something I picked up months ago (maybe at the Tower GOB sale) and had never gotten around to even unwrapping. (It happens. You think that's bad, you should see the stacks of still-sealed DVDs we've got at home.) There was a sad surprise, however - it wasn't that exciting. Sure, "Sidewalking" is possibly the greatest Bo Diddley track he never wrote, and "April Skies" is a fine dark pop song, but overall, I was expecting a thrill, a spark, a shock, and it didn't happen. Did I simply grossly overvalue Psychocandy (it really was all downhill from there) as a Brit-obsessed midwestern teen? Or has it simply not worn so well? MBV still sounds astonishing these days - hell, to my ears, so does early Ride. Wha'happen with JAMC, then? You tell me. (I immediately followed it up with The Essential Earth, Wind & Fire and got from "Serpentine Fire" just what I'd been looking for from 21 Singles. Which I guess means that EWF kicks JAMC's ass. Hell, there's no guessing about that - it's pretty much indisputable.)

thomas, it WAS all downhill from *psychocandy*, i thought so even at the time (the singles just kept getting worse and worse and worse) (and cornier and cornier and cornier), and much as i loved *psychocandy* it was definitely a 'moment' record--the sound of it was purposefully crude, they were hilarious, the whole thing was like a fun little scam. there's some good poppy things on that album, definitely (still personally love "the hardest walk," for instance) but it really does feel fixed in its era now. truthfully, earth, wind and fire were just as silly in their own extremely-mid-seventies kind of way, but fuck yeah, some of those songs sound as good now as then, especially "serpentine fire" which has always been my absolute fave.
They're definitely a minor band, capable of one chord change and (maybe) four rhymed words, so it's only fair that I offer a minority opinion: Psychocandy is their dreariest. I prefer "Happy When It Rains," "Sidewalk," the absolutely glorious "Head On" and that narcoleptic Hope Sandoval collaboration to the early murk.
I'm also in the minority, I guess, by championing Automatic and Honey's Dead as the band's best work. Psychocandy is "important" or whatever, but it's more sound than substance.
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