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Barbed Wire Kisses
Vinyl | LP (12" album, 33 rpm)
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Vinyl LP repressing. The Jesus and Mary Chain released Barbed Wire Kisses (B-Sides and More) in 1988, just five years into their existence. The album is an incredible collection of singles, outtakes and rare tracks that proved to fans outside of collectors' circles that the group ranked among the UK's great singles bands. Barbed Wire Kisses showcases a more varied presentation of the band. Their debut Creation single 'Upside Down,' the speed-surf sonics of 'Kill Surf City' and the dark 'Hit' all gleam with the screeching hipster cool of Psychocandy's best moments, while lighter fare like the tracks 'Psycho Candy' and the acoustic version of 'Taste of Cindy' echo the gentler tone of Dark lands. The Jesus and Mary Chain's knack for jaw-dropping cover versions is also exhibited with their thrashy take on the Beach Boys' 'Surfin' USA' and Bo Diddley's 'Who Do You Love.' the concurrent single 'Sidewalking' ranks among the band's best, with it's T-Rex swagger filtered through band's trademark feedback squall.
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It's got a little something for anybody who loved either "Psychocandy" or "Darklands", depending on which version of the JAMC you preferred. A number of the songs could have been left on their sophomore release ("Everything's Alright When You're Down", "Don't Ever Change") without degrading the quality, and other tracks ("Head", "Hit", "Upside Down") make their debut sound like Kenny G does Dusty Springfield.
The superb acoustic binges of "Psychocandy" and "Taste of Cindy" sound just as good as if they were coming through Marshall stacks, and the demo of "On The Wall" is strangely addictive.
Add to that the sleeper single of '88; "Sidewalking", and you've got a fairly seemless collection that is as far away from filler as you can get.
Where does that leave Barbed Wire Kisses, you ask. After all, this review is about Barbed Wire Kisses. Barbed Wire Kisses is a mixed bag of B sides, out-takes, alternate versions and singles only songs. Somehow, this mix blends well, and only in a couple of spots on the album feel disjointed. That said, this album ranks up there with Psychocandy. In fact, I like it more than Psychocandy.
As far as the songs on this album, there is a range from sinister to silly (read 'not serious')... with the covers of Who Do You Love and Surfin' USA being the poles. Who Do You Love is worth the price of the album, a slow and evil nod to Bo Diddley and cooler than George Thorogood's version. 'Kill Surf City', 'Hit', 'Just Out of Reach', 'Cracked' represent the dark side. 'Upside Down' has the distiction of being the greatest distortion-filled sonic assault the Jesus and Mary Chain ever did. It makes the Psychcandy album sound "nice" in comparison. The album is balanced by lighter fare such as 'Psycho Candy' and the acoustic version of 'Taste of Cindy'. And then there are the tunes that are just cool, like a pair of pitch black shades... 'Sidewalking' and 'Bo Diddley is Jesus'.
If anything doesn't work on the album it is the Darklands outtakes and the porta-studio demo 'On the Wall'. They sound out of place.
All in all, this album is one of my Desert Island albums. If I ever have to be a castaway, I better have this with me!
Aside from the fact that BWK contains some of the band's best material, as well as their trippiest, oddest, eeriest and rockin'est (Sidewalking is the aural definition of cool), this album should be purchased by every single human being soley for Cracked. Without a doubt, this is the most terrifying song that was ever created. I see Hades every time I hear it. Nuff said.