Tuesday, August 25, 2020

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It's astonishing to think that until last month no one had written a Toppermost article about The Jesus & Mary Chain. Thankfully, Marc Fagel stepped forwards to do the honours and, as is so often the way with posts on the site, the resulting piece stands as a succinct overview and astute assessment of the band's career.

Even with a back catalogue as extensive as theirs, there were some cast-iron certainties for inclusion: 'Just Like Honey', 'April Skies', 'Sometimes Always' (the note-perfect duet with Mazzy Star's Hope Sandoval from Stoned & Dethroned).

But in truth I would have found it hard not to have given greater representation to Psychocandy in the form of 'Never Understand', 'You Trip Me Up' or 'Some Candy Talking', probably at the expense of Fagel's other pick from that debut ('Taste Of Cindy'). 'Reverence' would have been difficult to ignore, too, and he does his selection a further disservice by flagging up the quality of the non-album tracks left out. 'Kill Surf City' is a real favourite of mine, 'Surfin' USA' is a tremendous cover and 'Sidewalking' is another gem.

A few days ago Fagel followed up his post with another, this time on JAMC acolytes The Raveonettes. It was a well-timed prompt to revisit a band I haven't listened to in a while and whose recent albums have passed me by.

Full-length debut Chain Gang Of Love remains the place to start, for me, and Fagel is right to refer to 'That Great Love Sound' as "one of the band's most perfect stand-alone singles". But 'The Love Gang' also merits a mention as arguably a finer obliteration of the Shangri-Las with feedback than their gurus the brothers Reid ever managed, and, as Fagel suggests, Pretty In Black, Lust Lust Lust and In And Out Of Control all have plenty to offer anyone besotted by the collision/collusion of pop prettiness and clanging guitar noise.


Jittery White Guy said...

Hey, Ben, thanks for checking out my Toppermost posts. Like you, I think I would have leaned a little harder on the earlier work from the J&MC and the Raveonettes if I were really picking out my favorite songs by each band; both bands also have a ton of stellar non-album tracks that I count among my favorites. At the same time, I use these articles to give an overview of the artist, so I try to go a little broader in picking a track or two per album, albeit at the expense of some of their arguably better songs.

It's kind of like when you list your favorite albums for someone. I like to limit it to one album per band; otherwise you end up with 5 or 6 Beatles & Stones albums in your top 10, and what's the fun in that?

Looking forward to checking out more of your blog!

Ben said...

Sorry if it came across as critical! It all comes down to how you view the articles - as lists of a band/artist's 'best' songs or as a means of giving an overview of their back catalogue. You're right that the latter is the most sensible perspective - and I've found several posts to be really useful primers on bands/artists I should know better - but I'm always thinking about what I would pick, which would probably gravitate towards being a personal top ten (which would be much less useful/interesting to the general reader!).