The Jesus and Mary Chain

Power of Negative Thinking: B-Sides & Rarities

William and Jim Reid were immobilized by boredom, lazy to the point of domestic stasis (a famous tale has them admitting to staying indoors for the better part of five years). They hailed from East Kilbride, a cultureless town the national film agency Scottish Screen once described as “so spectacularly ugly it becomes cinematic.” But when performing live, something flicked the on/off switch. During one of their first gigs, at the Roebuck pub in London (September 1984), June Brides’ frontman Phil Wilson described the brothers exuding an arrogance so palpable you could stir your cocktail with it. Power of Negative Thinking’s highlights are from those nascent years, when the group’s songs were shambolic in structure and creeping with indignation: the mythical cover of the disheveled Syd Barrett composition “Vegetable Man,” the prickly darkness of “Hit” and “Head,” the penetrating “Cracked.” “Kill Surf City” flawlessly crystallizes the Jesus and Mary Chain aesthetic: ’60s pop bubblegum spit onto a dirty Scottish sidewalk.