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Mary Quite Contrary

The Jesus and Mary Chain
The Jesus and Mary Chain

Thirty-two years ago next month, The Jesus and Mary Chain, a band created by Scottish songwriting brothers Jim and William Reid, released its debut album Psychocandy.

On one hand, the album did little more than update for the dour, Joy Division generation the psychedelic garage rock of bands like The Troggs or The Seeds. Even the band’s haircuts — dyed-black bangs over eyes, framing permanently frowning mouths — seemed themselves like cartoonish, goth rock updates on Beatle-bangs. 

Psychocandy sounded like it was recorded in a Scottish castle — cavernous and echoing. And lots of bands had played around with guitar distortion and feedback, but the guitar sound the Reid brothers slathered on tunes such as “The Living End” was more like hot lava poured down your ear canal, scalding from point-of-entry to the brain stem.

The album sounds awful, but there’s nothing on God’s green Earth that sounds quite like it. And rock ’n’ roll shouldn’t sound perfect — perfection is for squares.

But the songwriting on Psychocandy is so great it seems a little miracle it ever existed at all. Since then, JAMC has released a few other classics, like Darklands and Automatic. Few matched the sonic audacity and rock-’n’-roll romanticism of the debut. This year JAMC made yet another comeback with Damage and Joy. A fine venture it is, proving loads of great songs remain to be written on three chords and a bad attitude.

The Jesus and Mary Chain plays 9 pm Tuesday, Oct. 24, at McDonald Theatre; $36, all-ages.