Release Date: Sep 30, 2008
Record label: Rhino
Genre(s): Rock, Alternative
The Jesus and Mary Chain's 2008 Rhino four-disc box set The Power of Negative Thinking: B-Sides & Rarities, collects all of the influential Scottish noise-pop band's various B-side singles, cover songs, and sundry demos in one terrific package. Fans of JAMC who already own the band's albums should be pleased to see that none of the original album tracks are included here. For those who don't own them, Rhino's 2006 bonus disc reissues of Psychocandy, Darklands, Automatic, Honey's Dead, and Stoned & Dethroned is the place to start.
Exhaustive collection a must for any JAMC fanaticAcross these 81 tracks, you get B-side demo versions of well-known Jesus and Mary Chain songs (“Just Like Honey”), excellent covers (Syd Barrett’s “Vegetable Man,” Leonard Cohen’s “Tower of Song”), acoustic renditions (“Taste of Cindy,” “Teenage Lust”), alternate mixes (“Surfin’ USA”) and more. It’s fascinating—not only because you get to see how the band evolved (and, eventually, dissolved), but also because it makes JAMC’s influence on many modern-day rockers such as Deerhunter and Liars all the more obvious. Rarely does a track on this set demand skipping, and even the scant missteps are worth at least a few listens—like any great band, the JAMC lived and learned.
Anyone interested in the way British indie music has changed over the years might note the Jesus and Mary Chain's gig at London's Ambulance Station in November 1984. The subject of frenzied music press discussion and about to sign with major label, the band were very much the next big thing, a state of affairs lead singer Jim Reid felt impelled to express his boundless enthusiasm for. "Listen," he told the sold-out audience.
The Jesus & Mary Chain taps into an unequivocal force, an acerbic marring of antagonistic distortion and pristine pop clarity. The Power of Negative Thinking, an essential 4-CD, 81-song collection of JAMC's odds and ends, mirrors the Scottish misfits' evolution from the visceral, sweet 'n' sour beauty of 1985's landmark Psychocandy and the grim guitar bop of '87's Darklands to the drum-machine pulse of Automatic (1989), Honey's Dead (1992), and final breaking point, Munki (1998). As evidenced by abrasive readings of Leonard Cohen ("Tower of Song"), Prince ("Alphabet Street"), the Temptations ("My Girl"), and Elvis Presley ("Guitarman"), core components William and Jim Reid are rabid deconstructionists, exposing the underbelly of popular music.
Although it might be difficult to comprehend now, the Jesus And Mary Chain was a total revelation when it appeared amid the ocean of dull-yet-worthy indie pop that made up so much of the mid-’80s British music scene. Initially greeted with hate and bile, 1985 debut Psychocandy wasn’t so much a breath of fresh air as it was a speed- and booze-addled belch of intent. Looking back, brothers Jim and William Reid had it all: great name, great look, a truckload of attitude and, most important, a sound that’s been ripped off and assimilated by a thousand other less-talented bands.