How a record
changed my life.
this feature fully, install the excellent
Spotify and click the song titles
to hear the songs.
the heady atmosphere of 1985-1986, I never thought I'd live to see
the day when the Jesus And Mary Chain - musical revolutionaries,
performers of shambolic 20-minute
sets of hellish white noise and
inebriated chaos, banned from Student Unions across the country because
of their concerts' tendency to end in (sort-of) riots, scruffy
council-estate urchins from the industrial wastelands of West
Central Scotland - would be having their music celebrated and given
away free with copies of
But I guess if you're right and you wait patiently enough, the world
will often come round to your
way of thinking eventually.
That's not what I want to talk about here, though. In so far as I
can establish, it's rare that one can say with certainty that a
piece of popular culture - whether it be music, a book, a film, a
painting, a comic or anything else - has entirely by itself
genuinely changed the entire course of your life, from the way you
dress to the way you act, the places you go to and the people you
associate with. But that's exactly what Jim and William Reid's
epochal 1985 LP "Psychocandy" did for me. I
was an entirely different person the day I heard it to the person I
was before - for a start, you wouldn't be reading these words now
opened my eyes to a world I never knew existed, that I didn't even
know I'd been looking for until I discovered it, whereupon I
instantly knew it was where I belonged. This feature isn't intended
to take you to that world - hey, you might not like it - but
rather to illustrate that other worlds exist outside your awareness,
and can be travelled to in a heartbeat. (It's also something I've
owed this record for over 20 years, and it's time the debt was paid.)
Since my personal route to epiphany isn't of much relevance to
anyone else, though, I'm mostly going to try to convey what's special about
these songs themselves, in the order you'll hear them. It'll
inevitably still involve a
certain amount of local colour, of course, particularly towards the
end where the point is located, but you'll just have to
live with that.
As fate would have it, it's wholly possible
that I'm largely responsible for the JAMC's first ever daytime radio
play. "Just Like Honey" was the Mary Chain's fourth single, coming
out after the album, but at the time both their sound and their
reputation were far too abrasive and frightening for daytime
listeners, and the notion that such a band could get mainstream
exposure even for a delicate tune like "Honey" was
outlandish. This was still the case on the day I got through to my
local station Radio Forth to play "The Jingle Machine Game" on
Crawford's lunchtime show. The game was a fruit-machine-themed phone-in where you had to
answer a qualifying question for the right to shout "Stop!"
at a tape loop, whereupon it would play three sounds and you'd
win various prizes depending on what they were.
Following a preamble
where we'd talked a little about music and I'd mentioned the JAMC,
I almost tripped up on the question. (Nobody ever failed on the
question.) Asked to name three famous painters, I came up with
Leonardo da Vinci and Andy Warhol, and then racked my empty
17-year-old brain in panic for about 20 seconds before desperately
in a flash of inspiration just before
the time ran out. Phew. I didn't win the jackpot (£25, I think) on
the game, but I seem to recall getting a Radio Forth mug or some
After the usual
short closing chat with Jay, he asked if I wanted to say hello to anyone.
This was the local radio and television convention of the time - before the internet, digital
satellite TV, citizen journalism and such, it was still a novelty
for normal people to be seen or heard on any sort of broadcast
media, and traditionally they'd be given the opportunity for a
toe-curling shout-out through the wireless to their posse, ie
their mum and dad and Auntie Betty and, always, to "anyone else that knows
me". I thought for a moment or two and said no.
you say 'No'?"
"No thanks, Jay."
This was unprecedented
behaviour. The DJ momentarily seemed stunned, but you could hear
that he was thrilled. We said goodbye, the station went to a
commercial break, and when it came back he said
"This one's for Stuart, who didn't want to say hello to anybody"
and played "Just Like
Honey". In the context of the easy-listening 80s pop of the
lunchtime show, it sounded like something from an alien universe.
Though it has a soft and gentle melody, a quite romantic lyric and
a big Spector-esque wall of sound that wasn't in itself entirely anathema to popular radio even in 1986, I never heard it in the daytime
"Just Like Honey" would eventually go on to achieve a kind of mainstream fame
in 2003 when it featured over the closing sequence and credits of
Sofia Coppola's wonderful movie "Lost In Translation", creating another uniquely
for WoS in the process.
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