With certain bands, although I generally like their catalogue and think highly of what they did, I have a hard time developing one go-to album, or compilation, to put on to really scratch my itch. One of these would actually be The Who, which I believe to have made one classic album albeit one that’s fairly theatrical and long-winded, the rock opera Tommy.
Oddly enough, for a while with The Jesus and Mary Chain it was Barbed Wire Kisses (B-Sides and More) . Now, the reason why I say this is “odd” is the obvious rule that b-sides are songs the band has written but at least temporarily discarded, deeming them unfit for whatever given record they’re working on compiling at the time. And with a band like The Jesus and Mary Chain, this process brings up an interesting rubric for how a band approaches making albums. Both to their benefit and to their detriment, the JMC took a very systematic approach to mixing LP’s in pertinence to things like texture — Psychocandy is almost invariably loud and caustic, Darklands is consistently soft and melancholy and Automatic is fairly “automatic,” if you will, or possessive of a median, radio-ready sonic blueprint that’s not too abrasive and not too down.
Now, you vinyl audiophiles out there will likely commend the JMC for this obstinate adherence to album fabric specificity, saying that the LP’s cohere well and each contain a distinct style. This might very well be justified but at the same time, this border-line-anal sonic standard applied to album mixing is also conducive to the fallacy of some really good songs being discarded from the final record for sheer sake of stylistic discrepancy — that is, they didn’t fit in with the up-front, physical statement the band was ephemerally trying to make.
I believe this to be the case with The Jesus and Mary Chain superlatively and the result I observe is an especial accumulation of a lot of great songs in their “b-sides” bin. This is essentially what Barbed Wire Kisses is, with catchy bouts of homicidal mania like “Kill Surf City,” classic, climactic rock like “Sidewalking” and the bizarro faux-blues stomp of “Bo Diddley is Jesus” which simply cannot be described with words. In general, Barbed Wire Kisses was a very consistent listen full of crisp, kinetic indie rock, so it’s really much to my chagrin that it’s not available on Spotify. And yes, I’ll admit, without Spotify and Bandcamp you can really roll up the sidewalks on Dolby Disaster. Thanks for reminding me.
Well, I thought I’d get clever and just make a “playlist,” sort of like that exists for the Grateful Dead’s venerable Arista Years compilation, which isn’t officially materialized on the platform but which garners a de facto functionality through somebody’s construction of a playlist of all the songs and versions in order. I was cruising on Barbed Wire Kisses until I came to, of all things, “Taste of Cindy” (acoustic). I thought our country ran on melodramatic, sappy acoustic versions like that nauseating “Plush” take that even made it on to Stone Temple Pilots’ greatest hits. So much for that discourse but I suppose this post has essentially morphed into a spotlighting of Barbed Wire Kisses, as well it should, with “Taste of Cindy” (acoustic) notable for its being the one track not endorsed by Big Brother Spotify, as well as of course, containing this infectious, narcotic quality which I was once able to enjoy as a side B constituent of a classic album.