Ah, the difficult second album.
Following up a debut album as well-realized and well-received as Psychocandy is a daunting task, to say the least. Some bands ::cough:: Violent Femmes ::cough:: stumble on their second album and never really recover.
But that didn’t happen to The Jesus and Mary Chain. Despite the abdication of Bobby Gillespe and sacking of Douglas Hart and the addition of — heaven forfend! — a goddamn drum machine, Darklands was a triumph its own terms.
Album: Some Candy Talking EP
For all of the discussion surrounding The Jesus And Mary Chain’s Velvet Underground influence, I gotta admit that I didn’t really hear it as much on Psychocandy as a lot of other folks did.
I mean, it was there, of course — both formally in the floor toms / snare drums beats and informally in the noise that permeated the songs — but there was so much more going on than Velvets aping.
So in preparation for writing about the songs on Psychocandy, I read not one, but two books about The Jesus and Mary Chain. The first was the 33 1/3 entry on Psychocandy, which was terribly written, even if did impart some information, and the second was a better-written band biography.
And while I’m not sure I learned what I wanted to learn about the eternal mystery surrounding Psychocandy, both books insisted that their music had some roots in psychedelia, which I’d never really considered before.
Ahh. “My Little Underground.” For 30 years, it’s been my second-favorite song on Psychocandy, just a skosh behind the song I’m posting about tomorrow, “Something’s Wrong.”
But, just as I realized that the one song I needed to see at the Replacements reunion was “Left of the Dial” and not the-song-I’ve-said-was-my-favorite-song-by-anyone-ever-for-years-and-years “Answering Machine,” as I started doing the run-up to writing about the songs on Psychocandy, I realized that “My Little Underground” might be my favorite song on it. Because it’s perfect. Just fucking perfect.
One of the things about Psychocandy was the pacing.
It wasn’t all song after song of buzzsaw guitars and pounding rhythms: there were also songs that laid up on the noise, mostly, and provided a bit of a respite from all of the noise, usually over on a variation of the Phil Spector “Be My Baby” beat.
The most famous example of these songs was “Just Like Honey,” — which kicked off the whole album — but on the second side, the etherial “Sowing Seeds” took also this approach (and had Jim Reid confessing that he wanted peace, like he was a fucking hippie or something), but the most gorgeous of all was the lighter-than-air “Cut Dead,” which cut me to the core, both musically and lyrically.