21 Singles

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In spite of all its arrogant Velvet Underground posturing, corny little drum machines, and foo-foo coifs, the Jesus & Mary Chain flat-out fucking rocked. Marrying VU noise-damage and depressing drug poetry to ersatz Brian Wilson melodies is just about the most ingenious formula I can imagine for any rock band to affect. From the avalanching grind and grate of “Psycho-Candy” (“I get head on my motorbike/My mood is black when my jacket’s on/And I’m in love with myself …”) to the majestic and swirling, Lee Hazelwood-inspired, acoustic-based pop of the folksy “Stoned & Dethroned,” the brothers Reid excelled at mixing longing and despair with teenage ache in deceptively simple, noisy little pop songs that stayed in your head forever.

We all should have rolled our eyes when we began reading all that shuck and jive about the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club possessing any fleeting trace of the Mary Chain’s subtlety and grace. Wishing does not make it so. Get this extraordinary disc and backward gaze at inspired hit after hit — these mopey guys were, above all else, great songwriters: “I love rock ’n ’roll/all the people with nothing to show/I love rock ’n’ roll/all the people with nowhere to go/but rock ’n’ roll hates me.”

E-mail Dimitri Monroe at [email protected].

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