‘Live At Barrowlands’ by The Jesus & Mary Chain (Album)

31 July, 2015 in Music Reviews

The Jesus & Mary Chain

The Jesus & Mary Chain: still noisy after all these years

To mark the 30th anniversary of ‘Psychocandy’, Jim and William Reid serve up this live version in deluxe boxset form

J&MC Sleeveerman industrial noiseniks Einsturzende Neubaten and 60s girl group The Shangri-Las may not seem like obvious musical bedfellows; both, however, were among the influences cited by brothers Jim and William Reid when the Jesus & Mary Chain arrived on the scene in the mid-80s. And when you listened to debut long-player Psychocandy, it made perfect sense, as a near-constant barrage of feedback almost obscured their unerring knack for a sweet pop melody and a pithy lyric.

Almost. But not if you were listening properly.

Earlier this year, the brothers Reid undertook a major UK tour in which they played Psychocandy in its entirety, to mark the album’s 30th anniversary, and it’s the Glasgow Barrowlands leg of that trek that’s now presented here in a boxset that includes a 10-inch, vinyl LP and CD, plus a 40-page hardback book and some behind-the-scenes photos. You don’t just get Psychocandy, it should be pointed out – other old faves including April Skies, Upside Down and Some Candy Talking make up the first seven tracks – but it’s surely the Psychocandy-ness that’s going to get this album the most attention.

So is it any good?

Well, we can’t vouch for the book and so on – all us poor journo types get is the music to download. But musically, it’s far better than any album by two 50-somethings reliving their 20s onstage has any right to be, let’s put it that way! It’d be tempting to give it five stars, but for that it would have to either exceed the original album, or at least present it in a new light. And it doesn’t: Psychocandy remains the best way to discover this most influential of 80s alternative bands, and this is a very faithful and proficient walkthrough rather than any great re-imagining. But a faithful and proficient walkthrough of (in this reviewer’s humble opinion) one of the greatest albums of its era is nothing to be sniffed at.

Verdict: A live rendition of an old fave that, 30 years on, more than does the original justice

Russell Deeks