24.11.14

THE JESUS & MARY CHAIN : Cutmedeadnailmedownandkickmyhead (Vinyl bootleg, 1985).

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Jim & William Reid, long-estranged middle aged enfant terribles of the late '80s NME cognoscenti, unexpectedly reformed The Jesus & Mary Chain last year. They arrived back in Britain a week ago, following a slew of foreign dates, & tentative reports suggest that they're hellbent on playing their sole masterpiece - 1985's still unparalleled, ear-skewering Psychocandy - in it's entirety. 30 years ago they were, briefly, my favourite band - I was still in my late teens, after all - but I've not seen them perform live, or bought any of their records (their 1998 swan song, Munki, aside) since 1987. I'm actually quite excited at the prospect of seeing them again, no matter how unsightly a mid-rift (physically or musically) they might've developed since their student-baiting, p.a. upending heyday.

Cutmedeadnailmedownandkickmyhead was/is one of the earliest Mary Chain bootlegs, clad in a paisley-bedecked sleeve & comprising 2 complete, if characteristically succinct, 1984-5 shows. Specific dates & locations are not included (somewhere in England judging by the crowd's response) - the sleeve wryly suggests it was "recorded live at Westminster Abbey"- but the sound quality is superb (particularly on side 2), the feedback is utterly lacerating throughout (hooray), & their rarely aired Pink Floyd, Subway Sect, & Standells covers are all included.

There's no denying that they blew it with Darklands - a tactical retreat from pitiless white noise was (perhaps) understandable, but where were the songs? - but, for a fleeting, electrifying moment (captured in their early records & John Peel sessions, & at chaotic shows like these) it genuinely felt like The Jesus & Mary Chain might change everything. Which sounds hopelessly naive on reflection, of course.

Side 1: In a Hole / Vegetable Man / Taste the Floor / Ambition / Barracuda / The Living End / Jesus Fuck / Side 2: In a Hole / Vegetable Man / Taste the Floor / Ambition / Inside Me / Barracuda / Jesus Fuck.

Crack Johnny Crack

11.11.14

BASEMENT 5 : Silicon Chip EP (Island 10", 1980) / John Peel session 1980 (Radio broadcast).

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Reposted by request, & puzzlingly omitted from the otherwise authoritative 1965-1980/In Dub compilation, here are a couple of vital missing pieces from the Basement 5 jigsaw. "Silicon Chip" was the band's debut release (on 7" & extended 10") & even a cursory listen throws up all the usual "why wasn't this a massive hit?"-type misgivings. A rather weird, very under-rated single, it's quirky chart-friendly (this was 1980 remember...) veneer is offset by some cogent bottom end wobble, with trace elements of PiL & early On-U Sound very much in evidence (B5 were often lazily tagged as a "black PiL" after all). "Chip Butty" is, of course, a dubby versioned version of the a-side.

Their only Peel session was recorded on 21st April 1980 with Maida Vale whiz Tony Wilson - "another one", as Peel would wryly mutter. The line-up at this point comprised of Dennis Morris on vocals, the mysterious J.R. on guitar, Leo Williams on bass & T (aka "Tony") on drums (replaced on vinyl by PiL's Richard Dudanski). Essentially thrashed out live in a well-equipped BBC studio, it's heavier & rootsier than their records & goes someway to corroborating those "You had to see them live" testimonials we've all enviously read. The extended version of "Silicon Chip" is the high-point for me, but all of these BBC takes are superior to the official Island versions I think? Sound quality is A+ throughout (though "Immigration" unfortunately cuts slightly prematurely) - massive thanks to whoever had the foresight to archive it to cassette & take care of it for so long (in other words I've forgotten where I found it, sorry).