1985 – The Jesus And Mary Chain – Psycho Candy

1985B - Psychocandy

As usual, it was a Saturday afternoon and I was laying on the floor with my head on a huge scatter cushion, eyes closed and headphones on, completely lost in music. The music in question was “Psycho Candy” by The Jesus And Mary Chain. I’d read about them in NME and was intrigued by their apparent indifference to audiences and the chaos that seemed to surround them. From the off, “Just Like Honey”, almost lulls you into a beautiful, if slightly fuzzy, world of classic Velvet Underground-style songs with a slow, pounding beat and deep vocals. Then the noise kicks in! And what a noise. The screaming, fuzzed-up feedback and screeching white noise is at once exciting, dirty and dangerous. Then, it’s briefly back to the hazy, acoustic beauty of “Cut Dead” before the even more extreme noise of “In A Hole”. It was about this time that Wendy, who’d been laying on the settee, suddenly leapt up and started frantically looking around downstairs saying, “What’s that noise? I can hear something buzzing! Can’t you hear it? What is it?” When I took the headphones off to see what she was going on about, it became clear – it was the music! I think, perhaps, it’s appropriate that one of the best songs on the album is called, “Never Understand”. She didn’t. But I’d fallen in love with The Jesus And Mary Chain noise and knew instinctively that however messed up it gets and however much it hurts your ears (if the headphones are too loud!) at the heart of it all are just brilliant surf-sound songs. It might not be good music to drive to but, if the time is right, there’s nothing better.

I didn’t hate the concept of Live Aid (as Morrissey apparently did) but had very little interest in it because the majority of acts were, to my mind, either bloated has-beens or the current crop of pop star poseurs. Consequently, I missed most of it, only managing to catch a bit of Howard Jones (not very good), Bryan Ferry (boring) and U2 – the one band I actually wanted to see. I didn’t see the evening acts or the finale as we had a gig at Crookes WMC in Sheffield and had to be there and set up by 7.30pm (a rule in all Working Men’s Clubs at the time.) It wasn’t a memorable night at all apart from the concert secretary informing us, “Oh aye, we’ve had ’em all ‘ere tha’ knows. Aye, we ‘ad Renee and Renato. On this very stage!”

The couple of nights I’d spent with Tony Harper in his home studio the year before had really whetted my appetite for exploring the possibilities of multi-track recording but I just didn’t have the money for it. Fortunately for me, some Secondary schools were recognising the need to provide facilities for their students to use the technology. So it was that Grahame bought a Tascam Portastudio 244 multi-track recorder for his school. As usual, he didn’t really know what to do with it and asked me to sort out how to use it, and then tell him. It didn’t take long and I’d soon recorded the backing for three or four of the old Short Supply songs, using very basic drums from my Casio MT-45 along with electric bass and lead guitars. Massively excited, I invited Robert down for a couple of days and we briefly re-lived our “glory days” sitting around in the little bedroom, recording the vocals. We had fabulous fun and spent hours just making each other laugh, as we always did, even after a couple of years not seeing each other. We even nearly sounded quite good!

I started work at Redscope Junior School in September, having applied to take part in the “Teacher Mobility Scheme” set up by the Rotherham Local Education Authority. It meant that anyone who wanted to move school, without promotion, could swap with someone else in the same situation. After looking around each other’s school and chatting to the head teacher, as long as everyone concerned was happy with it, the swap occurred. On my first day, I was sitting in the staff room at break time when Celia, one of the older teachers there, came in and said, “There’s a computer in my stockroom, does anyone know what to do with it?”  It was one of the very earliest BBC Acorn computers and no one did.

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