TO CELEBRATE THE RECENT RELEASE OF OUR 33 1/3 ON THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN’S PSYCHOCANDY, WE’RE PLEASED TO BRING YOU THE THIRD INSTALLMENT OF JESUS AND MARY CHAIN WEEK BY AUTHOR PAULA MEJIA!
The BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test, launched in 1971, was a music program that featured performances by luminaries including Elton John, Curtis Mayfield and Patti Smith. But in the 1980s, Trevor Dann, a broadcaster and writer, was newly minted as a program producer and was tasked with booking up-and-coming acts for the Whistle Test.
His first order of business? Shaking things up. “If you’re working in music and media like I was in the ’80s, you were looking for something that was a bit dangerous,” he remembers. “Because in the ‘70s when things had gotten a bit bland, you suddenly had the Sex Pistols and The Clash. And that was exciting, and slightly terrifying…which is what it was meant to do!”
For the Psychocandy 33 ⅓ book, Dann told me about his experience booking acts for the show, and what happened when he booked the Mary Chain and they thrashed through one of their noisiest cuts, “In a Hole.” Here’s what he had to say.
“I thought my job as the producer was to try and make it a bit more modern. The previous producer had a rule that you couldn’t on Whistle Test if you hadn’t made an album. And of course, punk music wasn’t really about making an album. And The Jesus and Mary Chain were at a point where nobody, no more than a hundred or so people had heard them play. And they were capable of being the latest horror story in the tabloid press. So it just seemed to me, ‘Well, we should have them on!’ Not because we’re saying they’re good, or no good. But we’re a music program and people would think, at the very least, it would be interesting to see what they’re like.”
“So that’s what we did. By the time we booked them, we did know what they sounded like and we did think, ‘Hmm, this isn’t mainstream, isn’t it?’ The rest is history.”