Feels like something pumping through my veins
I got the junk gun fever sinking to my brain
Feels like God in heaven’s gone insane
As a really wise man once said*, the trouble with democracy is that I just can’t trust all you freaking mofos to vote properly for what I know to be right. The sooner the nation comes to its’ collective senses and crowns me Emporer 1537 The Great, the better. I reckon I’d look even hotter in a quasi-military uniform, dripping with gold braid and unearned medals. As a pinko liberal enviro-commie bleeding heart type the results of our election last Thursday have sunk me into a profound black-hearted funk. I love voting, exercising that right, the whole ritual of it is great and I’m always conscious that people continue to die for the right to vote in some countries, but man we need some better results here and a system of proportional representation to better reflect the real will of the people but don’t get me started on the minutiae of electoral reform. You’re here for some upbeat kick-ass sounds right?
I got a cat scratch engine takes me on the road
Wheels get rolling back to the world I know
Takes me just as far as I can go
How to respond to my malaise? My first reaction was to blast away the blues, Kill ‘Em All and Ministry Psalm 69 were hurriedly pressed into service, but other than loosening a few of my teeth and rattling my brains around a little there was no lasting effect. Next up I thought I would stick on something suitably political, Manic Street Preachers If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next just made me want to sob with the beautiful noble futility of it all and McCarthy I Am A Wallet was clever but didn’t have the visceral wallop I needed. I’ve been out with my daughter all day today and have studiously avoided all music, trusting to the Immortal and Omnipotent Gods of Vinyl (IOGOV) to guide my steps and see me right. You know what? they have.
I got my senses strung out to the sky
That desert city’s got me reaching high
Here I come here I come
I closed my eyes and reached for the shelf and grabbed hold of The Jesus & Mary Chain Automatic**, their weakest LP in some ways and not one I’ve had a lot of time for over the years. Thing is, it just sounds so damned right tonight*^ a sugared-up nihilistic cruise through the ruins.
Junk town nothing got to keep it coming
Hipshake gunning kick-start and I’m running
Just don’t make it guess you got to fake it
Here I come here I come
Automatic is like Judas Priest Turbo and AC/DC Fly On The Wall, the one diehards seem to hate and dismiss but like both of those I really like it for its’ accessibility. Automatic has always sounded to me like the JAMC’s Eliminator, the band pumped up the drum machines, opted for a synthesized bass and toned down their fuzzy extremities^, while producer Alan Moulder gave everything a certain sheen of respectability. Hell, play ‘Coast To Coast’ (sadly not a Scorpions cover) this really could be ZZ Top circa 1983, albeit a little ‘ol band from Texas obsessed with outrunning their own Jonesings. No seriously, it does sound like them musically, that rhythm is pure Eliminator – check out the lyrics to it above, cars, hip shaking and deserts, how much more ZZ do you want? More to the point, it’s a great track with oodles of that patented Jim Reid sneering drawl all numbness and angst.
Gimme hell, she gives me hell
I’m fucking up anyway
Well I’ve been good
And I’ve been mean
And I’ve been looking for a Coke machine
Automatic could never go up against the JAMC’s best albums and there are about 4 tracks of filler here on a 10 track LP, but the stuff that hits home really does hit home hard. Take ‘Head On’, with its cool-as-fuck-don’t-care-if-I-die-as-long-as-I-get-to-fuck-you-and-take-drugs vibe, a great track^^. I’ve been a real sucker for the sex-bot nihilism of ‘Her Way Of Praying’, what more could you want in a track? they click better on this track than any of the others on Automatic, all the tropes of their 50’s-revival-by-way-of-Alexander Trocchi are present and correct here, with a vocal delivered in such a matter-of-fact manner it’s as though he could barely be arsed maintaining the correct phonation threshold pressure on his vocal chords.
Fall to her call on a Saturday night
She’s got the hip dippin’ trick of all time done right
She’s got her lips sticking tight to her find tonight
She’s keeping time keeping time with the mystery rhyme
And she’s crazy to want me to taunt me
Deep on the scene she is waiting for me
Like a sin scraping skin she is screaming for me
Hope in hope in the sky she is talking to me
She’s keeping time, keeping time with the image of me
I love the lines ‘sin scraping skin’ and ‘fall to her call on a Saturday night’ and I refuse to either confirm or deny whether I believe the whole song may be about a sex act. There’s also something wonderfully shambolic and just downright noisy about closer ‘Gimme Hell’ (on vinyl anyway, the CD always had bonus tracks) which is the only track featuring live drums and swearing, both of which get a big thumbs-up from me. The guitaring here is really excellent, giving a real sheet metal effect. Likewise, I love the calm before the storm vibe of ‘Here Comes Alice’^* and the sexy drugs, sexy death teenage nonsense of ‘Blues From A Gun’ – I really love this band, but you have to take their perma-adolescence with a big pinch of salt, a lot of their lyrics come over like all the Velvet Underground’s drug songs being covered at once by the gang from Scooby Doo (an elegantly wasted Fred on vocals, natch); ‘I’m wrasted wraggy!’.
Interestingly, although it’s not a great track ‘U.V Ray’ showed the way forwards for JAMC, that shuffling, techno-orientated beat with dissonance played over the top that they would exploit so Goddamned well on their (superior) next LP Honey’s Dead. Surely I can’t be the only person who finds this band funny? You have to giggle at lyrics like this, don’t you?
Broken down Jesus with the taste of trash
Ice cool hip swinger moves too fast
Tear stained nightmares in the cold light of day
Sick sick nightmares just won’t go away
They have to have been written using Lyric Writer For Windows 90, set on nihilistic drug outrage sexy alienation. And that’s really not intended as a criticism. Much. Hell, check out my own Jesus & Mary Chain track-naming device!
In the meantime this will do me fine, if you’re going to have to learn dance amongst the ruins you need a good soundtrack for it. Well played IOGOV.
Cool? nah, freezing.
543 Down (in the doldrums).
*me, just now.
**okay, so strictly speaking that was my third go – but let us not spoil a good story.
*^and this morning after I pretty much fell asleep over my keyboard.
^I’d like to assure all my readers that my fuzzy extremities remain untamed. Oh yes.
^^fair enough the Pixies cover of it is actually better, Frank Black’s manic pervert vocals injecting a sublime urgency to the track.
^*I love this sarcastic little couplet, ‘Don’t let your life be the butt of a joke / Get your lips round a cool black Pepsi Coke’.