It was a little disappointing that Rhino’s reissues of the first five Jesus and Mary Chain albums did not get the deluxe over-the-top packaging and bonus track treatment that was bestowed upon The Cure and Joy Division, but this four-CD box set with extensive liners, including in-depth interviews with founding members Jim and William Reid, more than makes up for it. Quite simply, The Power Of Negative Thinking is the motherload for Jesus and Mary Chain fans. Though a lot of this material has already been compiled on the Barbed Wire Kisses, Speed of Sound and Hate Rock ‘n’ Roll collections, everything is in one place here, and there are a lot of added bonuses, such as previously unreleased demos and alternate takes of classic material. Perhaps the most fascinating thing about The Power Of Negative Thinking is that on many of these songs the Reid brothers really let their guard down, much more so than on their carefully constructed studio masterpieces. The Jesus and Mary Chain’s influences are much more varied than one may suspect. While the main albums tend to focus a lot on the band’s Phil Spector, Beach Boys, and Velvet Underground fixations, the group was far less restrained on their B-sides, especially on their covers of various rock ‘n’ roll legends, including Leonard Cohen, The Subway Sect, The Temptations, Thirteenth Floor Elevators, The Pogues, Bo Diddley, Elvis, and Prince. Original B-side compositions were also much more spontaneous, in some cases too much so—a handful of tunes, such as some of the early Psychocandy flip sides, are downright awful! Much more par for the course is the number of amazing gems on The Power of Negative Thinking that should have made their way to the ‘proper’ releases. This is especially true with the Automatic era B-sides. While that 1989 effort is a tad too produced and commercial radio-friendly compared to the other Jesus and Mary Chain albums, after listening to tracks like the gripping “In The Black” and “Terminal Beach” or the shimmering all-too-brief “I’m Glad I Never,” one wonders what Automatic might have sounded like if the boys had been able to let loose a little more in the studio. Other great discoveries here are some Honey’s Dead era cuts, including the infectious “Something I Can’t Have,” the tense “Heat,” and a sublime acoustic rendition of “Teenage Lust.” A must purchase for the hardcore Jesus and Mary Chain fan.
Video above is “Some Candy Talking” from 1986.