September 5 — “You Trip Me Up” by The Jesus And Mary Chain

The Jesus And Mary Chain

If you only listen to one song today, make it “You Trip Me Up” by The Jesus And Mary Chain (1985, from the album Psychocandy). As part of our continuing series on bands who will be playing at this weekend’s 2012 Hopscotch Music Festival, today we look at The Jesus And Mary Chain. JAMC are one of the “headlining” bands of the festival, and they’ve got the headline spot on the main stage outside on Friday night. They’re in City Plaza, and they’re scheduled to go on at 8:45, right after Built To Spill. The show has to stop at 10, meaning their set is quite short compared to Deerhoof’s, but I’m ecstatic that I’ll be seeing them.

JAMC is an indie rock band from Glasgow, Scotland centered around the brothers William and James Reid. Not to be confused with the brothers Charlie and Craig Reid, who are also Scottish and also the center of a rock band who were important in the 1980s and 1990s. You might know them as The Proclaimers. And that’s your Scottish rock music trivia tidbit for the day.

Equally influenced by stuff like Iggy Pop and The Velvet Underground, and especially the VU album White Light/White Heat on one hand and stuff like Burt Bacharach and The Shangri-Las on the other, Jim and William Reid decided to form their own band. That came to fruition around 1983. At a time when a lot of bands were eschewing guitars for synths, they really wanted to make a record with loads of guitars, loads of distortion, and loads of feedback. But at the same time, they always wanted to make a record reminiscent of The Shangri-Las. They managed to do all of the above with Psychocandy.

The album is known for its caustic feedback, the white noise wall of sound, and its sheer volume. Because of that, attention is rarely given to the harmonies and the pretty bits. And they are there.

Although they always said that they wanted to make songs that sound like The Shangri-Las, what they really did on this record is make something that conjures The Ronettes. On “Just Like Honey” and also on “Sowing Seeds”, they borrow that iconic drum beat from “Be My Baby”. It’s amazing how often that simple beat is imitated, even fifty years later. And they’ll still be ripping it off in 50 more years.

Psychocandy was received very warmly by fans and by the press. NME called it the best record of 1985. Melody Maker called it the #5 record of the year (with The Head on The Door by The Cure getting top honors). Pitchfork recently called it the 23rd best record of the 1980s. Even the mainstream rags adore it. Rolling Stone calls it #268 in their list of the top 500 albums of all time. As an enthusiast of indie rock, and especially noise pop and shoegaze, I put Psychocandy in the top five all-time. It blazed a trail from post-punk to noise pop and laid the foundations for shoegaze.

Last year, Edsel Records re-issued the entire JAMC catalog in glorious “deluxe and redux” format. Remember, they’re the same company who re-issued the catalog of Sugar. I just wrote about the 20th anniversary of the spectacular Copper Blue yesterday. Like the Sugar re-issues, all of the JAMC re-issues were in 2CD+DVD form.
Disc one is the album in remastered glory, plus a load of b-sides
Disc two is a bunch of BBC sessions, demos and outtakes.
Disc three is a DVD packed with official videos and some teevee interviews and concert footage.

It’s a brilliant set, and it’s well worth the £13 that it’ll cost you.

Now, to finally get to the point. Today’s song. I very nearly went with “Never Understand”, but after some careful consideration, I chose “You Trip Me Up” This is that song (three different ways):

“You Trip Me Up” (remastered album version) by The Jesus And Mary Chain

And because I love you guys, and I’m feeling so generous, I’ll give you a taste of the extra stuff from the deluxe set. BBC Sessions from before the release of the album.

“You Trip Me Up” (John Peel Session 23 October, 1984)

I really like this version. Maybe more than I like the album version. It’s a little less grating, and those fantastic single notes from the guitar starting at about 0:46 really stand out. And I love the density of the drums. The vocals are a little less obscured by fuzz, but they’re still hard to make out.

and then an acoustic Peel Session:
“You Trip Me Up” (acoustic John Peel Session 29 October, 1985)

Well… You know. It’s acoustic. Zero feedback. Zero fuzz.

I walk sideways
To avoid you
When I’ve annoyed you

Love’s like
The mighty ocean
When it’s frozen
That is your heart

Which version do you prefer?

After Psychocandy, JAMC veered away from the sonic buzzsaw of feedback and white noise. The next record —Darklands (1987)– was significantly less noisy. It’s a very good record, but it has a bit of an Echo and The Bunnymen feel to it. There’s nothing at all wrong with that, by the way. 1989’s Automatic was a journey into pop music and synthetic drums, but it’s still a record that I like. Aftar that, things got a little dodgy. A couple of mediocre albums in Honey’s Dead and Stoned and Dethroned lost me. Even with the recruited help of Hope Sandoval for two songs on S&D, I just couldn’t get into those. In 1998, they returned with Munki, which I liked. The critics weren’t so excited about it, though. A year later, they put themselves on hiatus.

They reformed in 2007 to play at the Coachella Music Festival and have released one song since then. They’ve played some events like Hopscotch, but there’s no indication that they’re working on new material.

The band are playing an extended US tour for the first time since before the breakup. In 2008, they played four shows in the US, so I won’t count that.

It’ll be my first and only time seeing them, and I’m quite excited.

You should buy the deluxe and redux fancy 2CD+DVD version of Psychocandy from here.

About dlee

North Carolina born and bred. I'm a restaurant guy who spends free time listening to music, watching hockey and playing Scrabble. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and I will most likely never put it to use. View all posts by dlee

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