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Why I love The Jesus And Mary Chain

James Manning revisits his teenage crush on Scotland’s surliest band

I can vividly remember the first time I listened to Joy Division and The Smiths, but I can’t remember how I heard The Jesus And Mary Chain. It might have been when I found their ‘Barbed Wire Kisses’ LP – still in cellophane – sandwiched between my mum’s Eric Clapton and Robert Palmer records. Or it might have been when I watched a YouTube video of the surreal interview the band gave in 1985, after a gig in London turned into a near riot.

Either way, before I turned 18 I had already smashed brain-first into a coarse wall of sound built 20 years previously by a pair of misfit brothers from East Kilbride. Jim and William Reid (plus bassist Douglas Hart and drummer Bobbie Gillespie) were working-class Scots. I was a posh boy from Putney; they’d probably have despised me. But the Mary Chain were outsiders, and their songs – sweet pop melodies dripping blinding white guitar noise, or chugging, clattering, give-a-fuck rock ’n’ roll – got me through all the hormones and isolation that my teens could throw at me. ‘Head On’, ‘Reverence’ and ‘Some Candy Talking’ fired me into a strange, fast world where all the coolest people were spotty, weedy and weird… just like me.

Last year I watched the Mary Chain play their debut album ‘Psychocandy’ live in London. (If you missed it, they’re doing it again in Camden this week). William is fat now. Jim is balding. They were both wearing dad jeans. I didn’t care: it was loud as hell, and the songs were there. I’ve (mostly) grown out of my teenage crush, but those songs still carry me through life. Some people go on a gap year to find themselves; I just bought a pair of Ray-Bans and listened to the Mary Chain.

Read our The Jesus And Mary Chain interview.

Previously: Why I love The Jam