As a teenager back in 1985 I had an issue. The problem was that I wished I was about ten years older than I actually was. Weird I know. This issue which was all consuming to me was that I had never had the chance to see the Sex Pistols live which only escalated every time I played the Never Mind The Bollocks LP, which to be honest was just about every day. I adored that album back then as I still do now, but I regretted having missed out on the chance to be involved in all the excitement and mayhem of those times which I had soaked up from old copies of Sounds, Melody Maker and the NME and also a record shop in Loughborough, fantastically named The Left Legged Pineapple, at which I bought all my punk 45’s.
Thoroughly pissed off with the thought that I would never see the likes of the original Pistols I appeased the situation by watching reformed punk acts like Stiff Little Fingers and The Lurkers. Then something happened, I started to read about a band that seemed to leave a trail of carnage wherever they played and Melody Maker started to write about this young Scottish Outfit that revelled in screaming feedback and noise. Well, noise was my thing! The band were The Jesus and Mary chain from East Kilbride in Scotland and after absorbing every little snippet of info I could about them I thought to myself that this could be what I was looking for and all the excitement of a missed punk era could be about to happen again!
As normal you could always rely on John Peel to play the stuff that was worthwhile so it goes without saying really that he was on the case. On the first hearing of debut single Upside Down I knew that this was the band for me. William Reid’s total fuzzed out guitars with screaming feedback over his Brother Jim’s vocals were just amazing. I used to love music to drive my parents to distraction , so to hear feedback like this band could muster out of my Dads old Panasonic music centre certainly did the trick. I now had a band that I could go and watch or listen to which could ease my disappointment at not being around when the Sex Pistols were playing. The Jesus and Mary Chain were ‘my’ Sex Pistols’, if you get my meaning, and when I read about what was dubbed a riot at the North London polytechnic in the early part of 1985 I started to think that perhaps these lads even had attitude like The Pistols.
Performances on a revamped ‘Old Grey Whistle Test’ only whetted my appetite to see the band in the flesh. Their performance of ‘In a Hole’ blew me away and got the required tutting going from my dad as he watched it with me and who was perplexed as to why they had a drummer that stood up to play. That drummer, we all know was Bobby Gillespie who has had a bit of a career himself! (In a band not as good as the Mary Chain I might add!). Anyway when the debut LP was released with the fantastic name PsychoCandy, my brother and I were salivating at the thought of seeing them live.
The chance came when they were announced to play at Rock City Nottingham. Rock City at that time had a very strict over 18 policy so even after we had bought the tickets from sadly defunct record store Selectadisc we dare not count our chickens and actually assume we were finally going to see them. My brother being 14 at the time was a worry but when the night came we both managed to get in unscathed. I think the two of us could not be more excited if we had actually managed to time travel back to the Sex Pistols St Martins college gig. Obviously I have many years under my belt since the gig but I can still remember my brother and me wondering if it was all going to kick off. I can tell you now that it didn’t but it really felt like we were seeing an important band and one that would be talked about for years to come.
Nearly 30 years after they formed I still love them and obviously with this piece I still think fondly of a band that meant a lot to me and my brother. From those early singles and the debut album the lads calmed down the feedback and mellowed for a while writing and performing touching music that never sold out in any way, and later in their career released some really riff heavy stuff that hasn’t dated at all. The band may not have quite reached the iconic status of my beloved Sex Pistols but black clothes and floppy hair never looked as good on anyone else, and remember they managed to have a single banned by Radio One when Mike Read got his knickers in a twist about ‘Some Candy Talking’ so they lived up to Johnny and the boys there! Anyway to sum up, in 1985 The Jesus and Mary Chain were my Sex Pistols and I am chuffed to say that I managed to get to see them when they were really fresh, and I still maintain that Bobby was in a better band then than he is in now!