By Antonio Tzikas
December 12, 2013
Another Christmas looms and another bumper crop of box sets jostle for position in the over saturated ‘remastered vinyl collection’ market which has been growing and growing in recent years.
The contender this time around is an 11 LP Jesus & Mary Chain vinyl set, entitled The Vinyl Collection, released by Demon Records to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the formation of the revered indie legends. The collection contains a fully remastered reissue of every one of The Jesus & Mary Chain’s six studio albums, from their hugely influential and now legendary 1985 debut Psychocandy, to their sadly overlooked 1998 swan song Munki and everything in between. Each record is lovingly pressed onto that most sexy of formats; 180g heavyweight vinyl, and housed in reproductions of the original sleeves.
On top of this comes a two LP collection of every one of their BBC Sessions, a two LP ‘In Concert‘ collection, taken from two separate shows in the early ‘90s and a 14 track ‘B-sides & Rarities‘ LP, made up of fan voted favourites that have been chosen from a worldwide social media competition. Of course there is also the obligatory hardback book, poster, photos and various other bits of content that you’d expect to find.
The main bulk of this collection is the remastered vinyl pressings of all the JAMC’s studio albums, which do sound great to my ears, even on the promo CD’s I’m listening to. In case you were wondering, these remasters are not the same ones as the recent remasters set from a few years ago, which included gatefold double CD packages for each album. They were taken from the original tapes and fully remastered at half speed, and sound all the better for it, although the aforementioned batch of remastered Mary Chain albums kind of dulls the excitement of having them remastered again.
Albums aside, for me the JAMC were at their best on their standalone singles and B-sides, a selection of which are included on the B-sides & Rarities LP in this collection. The track listing of this ‘Best of the Rest’ collection couldn’t be better and really does contain some of their best work, most of which comes in the form of B-sides and demos from their halcyon years of 1984-1988 . It was this golden period which would later cement them as the undisputed pioneers of noisy indie pop as we’ve come to know it, with an impact so great that it’s still being felt in music today.
In fact, as you work your way through this compilation, you’ll notice that current bands are still basing their entire sound around these songs. Tracks like their statement of intent 1984 debut single for Alan McGee’s newly set up Creation Records, the wall of noise proto-shoegaze blueprint ‘Upside Down’ and the ferociously cool ‘Kill Surf City’ are as important in the timeline of UK guitar music as ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ and ‘You Really Got Me’ and it’s nice to see they are given a look in amongst the albums in this collection.
Another great treat in this collection is the inclusion of the band’s BBC sessions, for both Janice Long and John Peel. As well as giving the listener a great chance to hear the band’s progression in sounds over their career, the first four tracks on the first BBC LP from their 1984 John Peel session are some of the best recordings of them you’ll ever hear; visceral, pounding, unhinged and recorded before their debut was released, they were many people’s first introduction to the band and stand as a record of what the early, primal, Mary Chain must have sounded like live. In fact, the whole of the first LP is full of brilliant recordings, including some beautiful, shimmering acoustic renditions of ‘Some Candy Talking’ and ‘Cut Dead’.
This boxset has clearly been a labour of love for Demon Records and everyone else involved in it’s conception, including the fans voting for their favourite tracks, and as the press release leads me to believe, the band themselves have also had some input. The care that has been taken into producing the content is evident and the 11 LPs in this set pretty much serve as a definitive archive of the most important Jesus & Mary Chain material in one place. It’s a great testament to the music and the history behind the band and the perfect release to celebrate 30 years since they first emerged from the depths of East Kilbride and caused a screeching, howling and inimitable racket that went on to shape everything to come after it.
The Jesus And Mary Chain – The Vinyl Collection will be released on December 16 and is available to pre-order from amazon (here).