Jesus and Mary Chain resurrected
One of the most volatile and aggressive alternative rock bands of the 1980s and ’90s perform in TA this week.
The Jesus and Mary Chain Photo: Courtesy
Sibling partnerships in the rock & roll world have produced some enduring
music, but have also been punctuated with acrimonious volatility. For every
loving Karen and Richard Carpenter team, there’s been explosive yin yang
relationships that have resulted in fisticuffs to go along with the gold
records. From The Everly Brothers and The Beach Boys (alright, it was mostly
cousin Mike Love who strained familial ties) to The Kinks (Ray and Dave Davies)
and Oasis (Noel and Liam Gallagher), brothers in music are no different than
brothers in life – they tend to fight.
And Jim and William Reid, the
sibling creators of 1980s-90s psychedelic punk poppers The Jesus and Mary Chain
are no exception. By the time the Scottish rockers called it quits in 1999 after
six albums and worldwide acclaim, there was little brotherly love between
vocalist Jim and guitarist William.
“After each tour we wanted to kill
each other, and during the final tour we tried,” Jim Reid said in a 2006
But a few years of decompression away from the pressures of
touring and recording apparently set their relationship back on an even keel,
and in 2007, the Reids announced the reformation of the band.
that there was a resurgence of interest in the band’s music – including the song
“Just Like Honey” from their classic 1985 debut album Psychocandy being
prominently featured in the 2003 Sofia Coppola film Lost in Translation, and the
2006 remastering and repackaging of all their albums. The coming out took place
at the Coachello Festival in 2007, and featured Lost in Translation star
Scarlett Johansson singing with them on “Just Like Honey.”
The band that
helped return guitar rock to popularity amid the synth-pop explosion of the
mid-1980s – paving the way for Oasis, Blur and Suede to take over the airwaves
in the subsequent decade – was back. The funny haircuts and sullen attitude were
trimmed down for 21st-century optimization, but the music was as hard hitting as
ever, capturing the essence of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s sound.
they were inspired by The Sex Pistols and the punk movement of the 1970s, the
Reids spent five years living hand to mouth while they perfected their craft
outside Glasgow before debuting the band in 1984. What set them apart was
combining the three-chord sounds of favorites like The Ramones and the Velvet
Underground with pure pop music based on the early 1960s hits of Phil Spector
and The Beach Boys.
According to the All Music guide, those disparate
aesthetics converged: “equal parts bubblegum and formless guitar distortion,
their sound both celebrated pop conventions and thoroughly subverted
Since reforming, the Reids have stuck to occasional touring, with
new music being hinted at but so far not realized.
“We have a bunch of
new stuff. There’s been this album that everyone has talked about. We want to do
it but I guess everyone knows what it’s like between my brother and myself. We
disagree about where and how to record the album and what songs should be on the
album. Now, we seem to be on the same wavelength to some degree. It’s looking
more likely now that there will be an album,” Jim Reid told an interviewer
earlier this year.
Album or not, it’s the band’s timeless greatest hits
(in an alternative world sense – they never really experienced major chart
success) that has most fans jazzed at the return of the Jesus and Mary Chain.
When the band continues their comeback with two shows in Tel Aviv this week –
October 18 and 19 at the Barby Club – will the Reids be more like brothers in
arms or brothers bearing arms? That uncertainty will only add to the excitement
of seeing one of the best sibling partnerships back in business.