THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN are a Scottish alternative rock band formed
East Kilbride in 1983. The band revolves around the songwriting
partnership of brothers Jim and William Reid . After signing to
Creation Records , they released their first single
"Upside Down" in 1984. Their debut album
Psychocandy was released to
critical acclaim in 1985 on major label WEA . The band went on to
release five more studio albums before disbanding in 1999. They
reunited in 2007.
* 1 Biography
* 1.1 Early years
* 1.3 Darklands and Automatic
* 1.4 The 1990s
* 1.5 Post-split
* 1.6 Reunion: 2007-present
* 2 Discography
* 3 Members
* 3.1 Timeline
* 4 Cultural references
* 5 References
* 6 External links
Brothers Jim and William Reid had been inspired to form a band as far
back as 1977, having heard groups of the British punk scene; in the
early 1980s they formed their own. William stated, "It was perfect
timing because there weren't any guitar bands. Everybody was making
this electronic pop music." Before forming the band, the brothers had
spent five years on the dole , during which they wrote and recorded
songs at home and worked out the sound and image of the band.
Originally called The Poppy Seeds, and then Death of Joey, they
initially told journalists that they had taken their eventual name
from a line in a
Bing Crosby film, although six months later they
admitted that this wasn't true. Other accounts suggest that the name
derived from an offer on a breakfast cereal packet, where customers
could send off for a gold
Jesus in William's words: "That's why we
started using noise and feedback. We want to make records that sound
different." They began playing live in Spring 1984. In the early days
Jim Reid's guitar would be left out of tune, while Dalglish's drum kit
was limited to two drums, and Hart's bass guitar only had three
strings, down to two by 1985; in Hart's words "that's the two I use, I
mean what's the fucking point spending money on another two? Two is
Struggling to get gigs, the band took to turning up at venues
claiming to be the support band, playing their short set and making a
quick exit. After failing to generate any interest from concert
promoters and record labels in Scotland, the band relocated to Fulham
, London, in May 1984, and soon afterwards their demo tape was passed
to fellow Scot
Alan McGee by
Bobby Gillespie . Subsequently, McGee
promoted a gig for the band at the Living Room in London in June 1984.
On the strength of hearing the band sound check, McGee signed them to
Creation Records label on a one-off deal, and McGee also became
the band's manager. The debut single, "
Upside Down ", was recorded
in October and released in November that year. The sessions were
produced by Joe Foster , but McGee, unsatisfied with Foster's work,
remixed the A-side, although the B-side, a cover version of Syd
Barrett 's "
Vegetable Man ", remained credited to Foster. The band
were gaining increasing attention from the music press at this time
with Neil Taylor of the
NME describing them as "the best band in the
Dalglish left in November 1984 after a dispute over money and was
replaced shortly afterwards by
Bobby Gillespie who had also formed
Primal Scream two years earlier in 1982. In December the band were
arrested for possession of amphetamines , and
Jim Reid also confessed
LSD . "
Upside Down " topped the
UK Indie Chart in February
1985 and then again in March and stayed on the chart for 76 weeks,
selling around 35,000 copies in total, making it one of the
biggest-selling indie singles of the 1980s.
Playing in front of small audiences, during early shows the Mary
Chain performed very short gigs, typically fuelled by amphetamines and
lasting around 20 minutes, and played with their backs to the
audience, refusing to speak to them. In late December 1984, the band
performed as part of the ICA Rock Week. During their performance,
bottles were thrown on stage, with press reports exaggerating events
and claiming that there had been a riot, and national newspaper The
Sun running a story on the band concentrating on violence and drugs,
the band attracting the tag "The new Sex Pistols". This led several
local councils to ban the band from performing in their area.
"Never Understand" "Never Understand" combines Beach Boys
melodies with the distortion of
White Light/White Heat
White Light/White Heat
Problems playing this file? See media help .
The success of "
Upside Down " led to interest from WEA -subsidiary
Blanco y Negro Records which signed the group in early 1985. The group
released the single "
Never Understand " in February which reached
number forty-seven in the
UK Singles Chart . The label had initially
refused to press the single due to its B-side, "Suck", but went ahead
given the alternative put forward by the band, a song called "Jesus
Fuck". The band were eager to get "
Jesus Fuck" released, and Alan
McGee got as far as producing test pressings of a re-issue of "Upside
Down " with the song on the B-side, before the band insisted that
Blanco y Negro include the track on their next single. The follow-up,
"You Trip Me Up", was delayed due to staff at the pressing plant
refusing to press it due to the presence of the song, now re-titled
Jesus Suck"; The single was released in June 1985 with a new B-side,
"Just Out of Reach".
John Peel got the band to record a second
session for his
BBC Radio 1
BBC Radio 1 show in February 1985 (the first was only
a few months earlier), and the band also made a TV appearance on
Whistle Test in March and The Tube the same year. The third single
for Blanco y Negro, "Just Like Honey", released in October, gave them
their biggest hit to date, reaching No. 45.
Eager to avoid the violence of earlier gigs and to give an
opportunity for their songs to be heard without distortion and
feedback, the band planned to perform several unannounced acoustic
Sonic Youth , but this was abandoned when the plans
were leaked. Their debut album
Psychocandy followed in November that
year. The album fused together the Reids' two primary influences: the
guitar noise of
The Stooges and
The Velvet Underground
The Velvet Underground with the pop
songwriting and melodies of The
Beach Boys ,
The Shangri-Las and Phil
Spector ; In fact, the album's opening song, "Just Like Honey,"
Hal Blaine 's famous drum intro from
The Ronettes 1963
Be My Baby ", produced and co-written by Spector. The
record received unanimously positive reviews and is now considered a
landmark recording. Drummer Gillespie announced his departure from
the band in October 1985, to concentrate on Primal Scream. He had
recorded most of the drums on Psychocandy, with John Moore filling in
when Gillespie was unavailable, eventually joining the band to replace
him. John Loder also acted as a stand-in drummer when Gillespie was
unavailable for live performances.
When the band signed to WEA subsidiary Blanco y Negro in January
1985, there were stories reporting that they had stolen money from
managing Director Rob Dickens's jacket and destroyed his office, all
untrue but seen as good publicity by manager McGee. In a performance
on Belgian television in March 1985, the band did smash the set and
the audio equipment, but this was at the request of the TV producer.
Such behaviour became expected of the band and many shows culminated
with the Reids trashing their equipment, which was often followed by
the audience throwing projectiles onto the stage and damaging
On 15 March 1985, the
Jesus and Mary Chain played a gig at the North
London Polytechnic in front of one of their largest crowds up to that
point. The organizers had overbooked the venue, leaving hundreds of
fans locked outside. When Gillespie and Hart attempted to break the
locks, the police were called. Support band
Meat Whiplash had stirred
up violence before the Mary Chain set foot onto the stage when singer
Paul McDermott threw an empty wine bottle into the audience, prompting
four members of the crowd to attack him, leading to their set being
abandoned. Second act
The Jasmine Minks got through their set without
incident, but the
Jesus and Mary Chain then kept the audience waiting
for over an hour before taking the stage, and then left the stage
after playing for less than twenty minutes. Members of the audience
began throwing cans at where the band were hiding behind the stage
curtains, before mounting the stage to smash the equipment that
remained there. The violence continued for some time before police
eventually took control. The venue blamed the band's late appearance
and two equipment breakdowns, while McGee issued a statement saying
that "the audience were not smashing up the hall, they were smashing
up pop music", going on to say "This is truly art as terrorism". The
violence soon started to become a hindrance to the band, with people
attending concerts simply for the violence rather than the music,
William commenting "I hate it, I despise it. It gets in the way in
terms of getting more gigs, and it gets in the way of our image".
Many performances were cancelled during the remainder of 1985, with
promoters or local councils not prepared to risk a riot. The violence
flared up again at a performance at the
Electric Ballroom in Camden
Town in September, with bottles thrown at the band while they played,
and a section of the audience smashing up the amplification equipment
and smashing the lights afterwards, with several people injured by
flying glass. A major factor in the audience reaction was the length
of the band's sets at the time, which lasted less than twenty-five
minutes, Jim explaining this with "there's never been a group good
enough to play any longer". Lack of songs was also a factor, according
to Jim: "We've only got enough songs to play for that long".
After the success of the album in the UK, the band embarked on a tour
of the United States in late 1985 and 1986, followed by a tour of
Japan. On returning to the UK they toured the UK, this time without
the trouble that had marred earlier performances. The band revived
their acoustic intentions with a stripped-down session for John Peel
in November 1985, which included "Psychocandy", the original album
title track that was omitted from the release, and "Some Candy
Talking", a song which they had been performing for over a year, but
had left off the album. A second version of "Some Candy Talking" was
issued on a free EP issued with the
NME in January 1986, and the song
was released as the band's next single in July. It reached number
thirteen in the
UK Singles Chart , but attracted controversy when BBC
Radio 1 DJ Mike Smith decided that the song was a paean to illegal
drugs (denied by the band at the time, but admitted by William a year
later) and convinced the station to ban it from being played.
DARKLANDS AND AUTOMATIC
In September 1986, the band parted ways with manager Alan McGee, and
came close to splitting up later in the year, with
Jim Reid suffering
from "exhaustion". John Moore had become an established member, but
moved to rhythm guitar, with former Redskins member Martin Hewes
joining the band briefly (although he strongly denies ever joining)
Dead Can Dance percussionist James Pinker taking over on
drums. Blanco y Negro manager
Geoff Travis took over management
duties, and the band returned in December with two gigs at the
National Ballroom in Kilburn , where they premiered new songs
including "April Skies" and "Don't Get Hit". Early in 1987, they
entered the studio to record their second album. The first fruits of
these sessions were released on the "April Skies" single in April,
which saw the band have their first top ten hit. The Beach Boys
influence was evident on the B-side, which included "Kill Surf City",
a reworking of Brian Wilson's "Surf City". The various formats
released also included a cover of
Bo Diddley 's "Who Do You Love?", a
tribute to him with "
Bo Diddley is Jesus", and a live version of Can
's "Mushroom ". "Happy When It Rains" was the second pre-album
single, strongly influenced by
Smokey Robinson 's "My Girl", but it
failed to match the success of "April Skies", only reaching number
twenty-five. The band set out on another UK tour, this time with sets
stretching to 45 minutes, although to a mixed reaction from the music
press. They toured without a drummer, instead using a drum machine.
The band's second album, Darklands , was released during the tour, in
September, described by writer Steve Taylor as "the definitive blend
of light and shade". Featuring a more melodic sound, the album was
recorded almost entirely by the Reids themselves, replacing live
drums with a drum machine, and received overwhelmingly positive
reviews by the British music press. The album's title track was
released as a single in October, and the band were thrown off the ITV
music show The Roxy when they failed to mime well enough to it.
The band's dangerous reputation culminated at a gig at the RPM club
in Toronto in November 1987, when after being heckled throughout the
gig by a group in the audience,
Jim Reid thrust his microphone stand
towards them, hitting one on the head and slashing another on the arm.
Jim was arrested and spent a night in jail, before being bailed to
return the following February. He was subsequently given an absolute
discharge after agreeing to give around £500 to a Salvation Army
charity and apologise to the complainants.
With the court case hanging over the band, they compiled a collection
of B-sides and rarities for release in April 1988 as Barbed Wire
Kisses . They also selected live tracks from a Detroit concert the
previous November for release while they planned further studio work.
Dave Evans, former Mary Chain soundman and bass player with Biff Bang
Pow! (which also featured
Alan McGee and Dick Green of Creation
Records) and Richard Thomas, were recruited in early 1988 to replace
Moore, who formed John Moore and the Expressway, and Pinker. Their
next release was the new recording "Sidewalking", released in March
1988, and backed by some the live tracks, followed a month later by
Barbed Wire Kisses. Later that year, they did a remix for the single
"Birthday " by
The Sugarcubes .
The band's third studio album Automatic was released in October 1989,
by which time Evans had been replaced by
Ben Lurie . Boasting heavy
use of synthesized bass and keyboards , the album was not received
quite as well as its predecessors. It contained the singles "Head On "
and "Blues From A Gun". By this time, the violence that was originally
associated with the band was practically non-existent and the Reid
brothers were less antagonistic and aggressive in general. The
Rollercoaster EP (August 1990) would be their last release for over a
year, the band undertaking a tour of the same name with My Bloody
Dinosaur Jr. and Blur .
Douglas Hart had moonlighted with the Acid Angels in 1988, and left
the band in 1991, to have a career in film making, before picking up
his bass again in 2006, playing with the
Sian Alice Group , Le Volume
Courbe and Cristine. Thomas also quit the band to join Renegade
Soundwave . The fluid nature of the Mary Chain's line up continued
throughout their entire career, with a revolving door of drummers,
bassists and guitarists being recruited for TV appearances and gigs
whenever they were required, the only constants being the Reid
brothers. The Reid brothers recruited former Starlings rhythm section
Matthew Parkin and Barry Blackler to replace Hart and Thomas.
The brothers bought their own recording studio in 1991 in Elephant &
South London , which they dubbed The Drugstore, and they
returned in February 1992 with the first fruits of the new studio,
their next single, "Reverence", which gave them their biggest hit
single in almost five years, reaching No. 10 in the UK. Spitting
feedback and punk rock bile in every direction, the track was banned
from being played on
BBC Radio 1
BBC Radio 1 and from
Top of the Pops
Top of the Pops , due to its
potentially offensive lyrics ('I wanna die just like JFK , I wanna die
in the USA'...'I wanna die just like
Jesus Christ , I wanna die on a
bed of spikes'). The single was followed by the release of the album
Honey\'s Dead (1992), which received mixed reviews. Following the
Rollercoaster Tour to support the album, the band concentrated on
cracking the United States, with an appearance on
David Letterman 's
show, and a tour as part of the
Lollapalooza line-up, which William
later described as "the worst experience of our lives," followed by
their own headlining tour. In December 1992, the Reids again lost
their rhythm section, with
Ben Lurie returning and Steve Monti joining
on drums. Another compilation was released in 1993, The Sound of
Speed , before they returned to the studio to record their fifth album
proper, Stoned "> William walked offstage about 15 minutes into their
set, and the show ended. The audience was later refunded the price of
their tickets. The band finished up their U.S. and Japanese dates
without William, but from that point, it was clear that the band was
at its end.
Jim Reid said in 2006 of the tension between himself and
William: "After each tour we wanted to kill each other, and after the
final tour we tried".
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Immediately after the split, William Reid went solo as Lazycame
—having already released a solo EP in April 1998—and Jim Reid
Freeheat along with Lurie and ex-Gun Club bassist Romi Mori
Earl Brutus drummer Nick Sanderson , although neither act received
much attention or found any success. In October 2005, it was announced
that the Reids were reunited; Jim Reid's track "Song For A Secret" a
duet with his wife Julie Barber, was released as a single, paired up
with Sister Vanilla's "Can't Stop The Rock", which was written and
produced by William Reid and the brothers' younger sibling, Linda. The
single was released by Transistor Records on 17 October. Jim Reid
promoted his side of the single with a very rare solo gig at London's
Sonic Cathedral club on
John Peel Day, Thursday 13 October 2005. He
finished this rare live appearance with a performance of the early
Mary Chain classic "Never Understand".
Jim Reid also performed new
material at low-key gigs with a new band comprising Phil King on
guitar, Loz Colbert (Ride ) on drums and bassist Mark Crozer
In 2006 five albums were reissued through
Rhino Records :
Psychocandy, Darklands, Automatic,
Honey's Dead and Stoned & Dethroned
on 11 July 2006. Each album was released with a
DVD containing three
promo videos from that particular album.
They performed at Coachella 2007 in April. During their 27 April
2007 main-stage performance, they were joined onstage for the song
"Just Like Honey" by actress
Scarlett Johansson (the actress in Lost
in Translation which featured the song). At the warm up gig on 26
April 2007, in
Pomona, California , they were instead joined by Annie
Hardy of Giant Drag. The band's first UK performance since reforming
was at the Meltdown festival in June .
In an interview to Uncut magazine,
Jim Reid announced that a new
album by the band was in the works. In March 2008, the band released
a studio recording of "All Things Must Pass" on the soundtrack album
NBC television drama Heroes . It was their first new song
released since 1998. In September,
Rhino Records released a 4-CD box
set entitled The Power of Negative Thinking: B-Sides including early
performances, unheard demos, re-mixes, alternate versions of some
songs and bootleg recordings.
In 2010, a greatest hits album, Upside Down: The Best of The Jesus
and Mary Chain , was released via Music Club Deluxe. In 2012, between
March and September, the band went back on tour with a series of dates
through North America, which also included their very first gigs in
China in May. It was confirmed through the band's official website
that John Moore will be returning on guitar, while Fountains of Wayne
drummer Brian Young confirmed via Twitter that he would be replacing
Loz Colbert. The
Jesus and Mary Chain also performed two gigs in Tel
Aviv on 19 and 20 October. In an interview posted to Whopper Jaw in
Jim Reid revealed that he and his brother William had
written songs for a new album, however, they had yet to enter the
In 2013, it was announced that a full-discography vinyl box set,
The Complete Vinyl Collection , would be released for the
band's 30th anniversary, via Demon Music Group. In March 2014 the
band signed back to
Alan McGee and became the first artists to sign to
the newly reformed
Creation Management . They announced November 2014
dates in the UK to debut the performance of
Psychocandy Live, which
toured through 2015 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the album's
In September 2015,
Jim Reid announced that the band were recording
their first studio album since 1998. The album titled Damage and Joy
was produced by Youth and released on 24 March 2017.
On August 24, 2017,
Bobby Gillespie joined the band on drums for
three songs during their performance at Festival Milar de Mouros in
Main article: The
Jesus and Mary Chain discography
* Darklands (1987)
* Automatic (1989)
* Honey\'s Dead (1992)
* Stoned died 2008)
* Lincoln Fong – bass (1994–1995)
* Geoff Donkin - drums (1998)
* Phil King - bass/guitar (1998, 2007-2015)
* Loz Colbert – drums (2007–2008)
* John Moore – guitar (1986–1987, 2012), drums (1985–1986)
* Duncan Cameron - guitar (1983–1984)
They were referenced in Season 24, Episode 22 of the
Dangers on a Train ". The men of Springfield are helping Homer
restore a train for Homer and Marge's anniversary.
Reverend Lovejoy is
reading a book called The
Jesus and Mary Train.
Their song "
Just Like Honey " from
Psychocandy was featured in the
closing scene of the
Sofia Coppola film Lost in Translation . The
acoustic version of their song "Taste of Cindy" was featured in the
Greg Mottola film Adventureland . The song "Reverence " from
Honey's Dead album was featured in the 1992 film Pet Sematary II
. "Snakedriver" was featured on The Crow: Original Motion Picture
They were referenced by their acronym J.A.M.C. by the band Death Cab
for Cutie in the song "
We Looked Like Giants " from their fourth
Jimmy Eat World
Jimmy Eat World also referred to the
band and their third album ("The DJ never has it, J.A.M.C. Automatic")
in the lyrics of "The Authority Song" from their fourth album Bleed
American . In addition,
Jesus and Mary Chain are referenced in the
song "Mildenhall" from The Shins\'s fifth full-length studio album,
Heartworms . James Mercer mentions them as a band he frequently
listened to as child in his time abroad in Suffolk, England .
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Jesus & Mary Chain News on Yahoo! Music Archived 21 August
2008 at the
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