Jesus + Mary Chain: Blues From A Gun UK CD3 
- Blues From A Gun
- My Girl
For a few years there I was avidly collecting singles by Jesus + Mary Chain. I snapped them up in CD5 and at the time of the “Automatic” album, WEA was pushing the cute CD3 format. JAMC rarely went for extended mixes at the time, but the B-sides overflowed like floodwaters. The catch? You had to buy all of the formats to get them all. Business as usual for the UK labels until the great Chart Rigging wars of the early 90s. Even so, the 7/12/10/CD3 of this title would be legal in the BPI’s new rules. Fans would still have to buy three of these formats to get all of the B-sides on offer!
In 1989, I was not buying any vinyl, so I stuck with the format that I could immediately play and not fret over. That’s sort of my loss, since the B-sides on offer on this CD3 were all high value B-sides! There was nothing dull or worthless here, so I can only imaging that “Break Me Down” which supplanted “My Girl” on the 10″ configuration or “Subway” which did the same on the 12″ were both great Reid Brothers’ tunes.
The evidence here points to “yes.” The A-side was a sturdy single choice from the powerful “Automatic” album that showed the band curtailing their feedback-fests of yore to tighten their grasp on a strong pop rock song that might actually grace the airwaves.
“Shimmer” was the 7″ B-side and stands as a very Stonesy number with languid, melodious guitars with only a hint of fuzz. It’s a dreamy number and full of twang and none of the noise they made their initial reputation on. The simple, metronomic drumming gives the guitars the full spotlight and the end result is a fine piece of late night blues.
On the other hand, “Penetration” was all stabbing, repetitive synths and drum machines for a less than subtle approach that while machine-like, began to approach the vibe of their earlier material, like “Never Understand.” When guitars finally make their presence known here, they served to only add contrasting shading for the relentless machines.
Buyers of the CD3 got the exclusive cover of The Temptations “My Girl.” It’s a very different cover being guitar and voice only. There’s a lot of space in the mix with only a hint of reverb for flavoring. The vocals were double tracked for the chorus with whispers of “my girl” joining off beat to approximate the effect of the original version. It’s a fun take from a BBC radio session on a bit of classic pop that no one would immediately associate with the JAMC.
In all honesty, until I was researching the other formats for this post, I had no idea of the extra B-sides. The UK 2011 2xCD+DVD DLX RM of “Automatic” has all of this and so much more. Based on what I’ve heard from the CD singles I bought at the time, it may be considered money well spent. Just take care to avoid the US DualDisc version that misses much of the material for hi-res 2.0 instead. Audiophiles would be missing out on the plethora of good material on offer here.
– 30 –
So many people get on JAMC for not sticking to the Psychocandy sound for Darklands and Automatic, but not me! I loved Darklands flirtation with Goth and Automatic is just shows great maturity. Were the tracks more accessible? Maybe, but maybe the sound of 85 and JAMC had moved the needle for what was considered more accessible by 1989.
Their B-sides have always been a garden of unearthly delights. Experimenting, turning the tables on fans and just enjoying themselves with B-sides seemed to always work well for JAMC.
Echorich – While the feedback drenched VU sound caught my ear initially, the points they headed for afterward worked like a charm for me. After all, 1985 was only five years after The Cramps “Sunglasses After Dark” and they’d officially resurrected feedback and amped it to insane levels well ahead of the Reids. Focussing the energy as they did on “Automatic” was a perfect step forward from “Darklands.” The pop appeal was always lurking beneath the sawblade surface in any case. While I kept up with the singles through “Honey’s Dead,” I’ve still not heard any albums past “Automatic.” Though I saw them on the “Honey’s Dead” tour [I think] I’ve still not heard the album. That “Negative Thinking” box might be the thing to get. They are probably up there with PSB for worthwhile B-sides.