When the Jesus and Mary Chain released Psychocandy in 1985, punk and new wave were recent memories and keyboard-heavy pop was prominent on the charts. Psychocandy was, by contrast, filled with guitars set on maximum distortion -- you can almost see the needles on the VU meters trembling in the red zone -- and most of the vocals were buried deep in the mix. Despite the noise and feedback, William and Jim Reid, co-leaders and songwriters for the band, wrote pop songs. As these four DualDisc reissues show, the Jesus and Mary Chain would occasionally bring the volume down a little, especially on the mostly acoustic Stoned and Dethroned, but its writing style varied little from disc to disc.
The guitars on the bands second release, Darklands, were less distorted than they were on Psychocandy, and the bands influences, especially the Velvet Underground and '60s garage pop, were more pronounced. With Automatic, the brothers Reid took full control of the recording and played all the instruments, substituting electronic drums for the real thing. The repetitive, mechanized sound of the drum machine serves to reinforce this bands limitations -- the Reids are adequate but rarely inspired songwriters. Each disc contains a few good songs, but they all feel padded. Although its the least typical of the Jesus and Mary Chains discs, Stoned and Dethroned is the most consistent, as if the acoustic guitars forced the Reids to concentrate.
The remastering on the CD side of the DualDiscs is as fine as could be expected for recordings that were not created with high-end audio in mind. The DVD side beings you closer to the music and lets you hear some details, such as percussion, more clearly. Each DVD includes three videos.
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