Ballot Box Blues / Like A Sin Scraping Skin

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?

JAMC Automatic 01

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.

JAMC Automatic 06

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.

JAMC Automatic 05

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.

JAMC Automatic 07

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!’.

JAMC Automatic 04

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!

JAMC Automatic 02

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).

Life Goes on #1
Life Goes on #1
Life Goes On #2: I bought myself a treat
Life Goes On #2: I bought myself a treat


*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’. 


27 thoughts on “Ballot Box Blues / Like A Sin Scraping Skin

  1. Their weakest work for sure, although I have yet to listen to their newest one that just came out this week.

    The Pixies’ version of Head On, which is absolutely fantastic, made me think “maybe there are other hidden gems in Automatic that I have never noticed”. I went back to the album and… nope, I was still left cold by most of it.

    I love those guys, though. One of my favorite bands, probably roaming around the Top 25.

    1. I had the new LP in my hands yesterday but opted to buy the new Jarvis Cocker one instead.

      I agree totally with you, althoguh there are a couple I really like here. I just wish I could be a trilionth as cool as them.

  2. Also, voting. I always think (again) of what ol’ angry ass Hank said, once, on the subject. He said it wasnt even that you have to vote for the lesser of two evils. What really bothered him was having to vote for the evil of two lessers!

    I’m afraid of an election here. I generally pay next to zero attention to it, but if the conservatives can lose Alberta (first time since the 70s), I have a fear that they’ll vote in Trudeau only because of his last name. He’s untested and has no credentials other than his Dad used to be PM. Oh, wait, he was a school teacher. Does that help? Ugh. They’ll get what they deserve.

    Did I just get political? Holy crap. I need to go lie down. Those people make me so f-ing tired.

  3. I like the sounds of this. A LOT. And I was just in the big shitty. Now I gotta wait a whole month before we go back!

    Also, nice mug! I saw Oxygene on vinyl in Taranna for $8 but it was pretty beat up. I’d have bought it if it was a nice copy, all because of you.

  4. Comparing ‘Automatic’ to ‘Eliminator’ is damn near genius. Damn near. It’s also spot-on. What some thought as as bit of a sell out move, I’d consider it a very smart one. It plays to the Reid brothers’ strengths. Just set the drum machine to stun and get on with it.

    Hey, I feel your pain in regards to that nasty politics business. Now you know how I felt in 2000…and again in 2004. I can’t say 2016 will be the same, as until the Right can put up a nominee that doesn’t want to turn the country into an Oligarchy(and one that could tell you what an Oligarchy is), I think it’s all really up in the air.

    Either way, that mug should make you feel a little bit better.

    1. Thank you – I couldn’t agree more about my being a genius.

      It’s true though about Eliminator and Automatic, just change vocalists. I love this bit of 80s sound.

      Politics – I think US elections are far too important to the world to be left just to Americans, we should all get a vote!

  5. I’m not gonna comment on the election stuffs. No sir.

    That was the first Jesus & Mary Chain album I heard. I liked it, so you can imagine how utterly blown away I was when I heard the others, eh? Big awesomeness. I don’t often come back to this one now.

  6. Ahem, Sir King 1537 or whatever you want to call yourself…you bought a mug, and no CUPFACE??!! For shame! I wouldn’t have voted for you either! 😉

  7. Labour can blame me for the Conservative victory. Likewise, if Labour had won, the Tories would have blamed me. That’s because I ‘wasted my vote’ and voted for one of the other parties. Music is always a good healer. For me, I had the bands Cornerstone and Desperado.

      1. I voted Green as well and have been a Green ever since I listened to some speeches by Jello Biafra. If you do become king, remember your promise to make me ambassador to the USA.

  8. Just this morning I was driving behind an old Holden bedecked with a number of suitably strident bumper stickers. The one that caught my eye read (children, leave the room now please) “Thatcher had one, Abbott is one”. Brother, we feel your pain.

    Love the JMJ mug, though. Suggest you fill it with overproof cider (or whatever).

    1. Methylated spirits being my tipple of choice in these dark times, I’ll raise a mug to you.

      That’s a great bumper sticker too. I saw one a couple of years ago with ‘Republicans For Voldemort’ on it, which made me chuckle.

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