Being the best band in the world for less than five minutes

Posted by Jason Diamond

It seems like the world is always searching for the “next Beatles” or the “next Nirvana,” even though these things tend to happen independently.  Do you really think that after Warrant and Skid Row that major label people really thought “Smells Like Teen Spirit” would become this massive moment in cultural history?  Lightning strikes–spontaneously–and then things change.  A good example is that The Strokes were supposed to be the “next big” something because big labels wanted them to be.  And sure, Is This It was a fine album, but what was the band’s lasting legacy beyond that?

With the benefit of hindsight, The Jesus and Mary Chain were destined to be the next something.  Maybe the next Sex Pistols, with their nihilistic attitudes and rudimentary musical skills?  The British press sure loved them, with one NME writer claiming the Scottish group was the best in the world in 1984.

Maybe they were?  I was three-years-old when the claim was made; I had no idea what NME was, and didn’t know how to spell the three-letter acronym for New Music Express.  I was busy watching Sesame Street.

But what makes a band the “best in the world?”  Exile on Main St. sold well, but critics didn’t seem to think it was on par with the rest of the Stones stuff upon its release.  Now it’s considered one of the two or three greatest rock albums ever.  The Clash, The Boss, and The Replacements: any of these bands could have been considered the greatest.  From all I’ve heard from eyewitnesses, they were.  But how do I know?

I actually have proof that for a short time The Jesus and Mary Chain were, in fact, the greatest band on the planet.  And it’s pretty much the reason that I don’t really care they’re playing shows yet again.

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  1. The Jesus and Mary Chain were an immensely influential band. There are a lot of current bands that reference the Jesus and Mary Chain in their sound… Deerhunter, Pains of being Pure at Heart… to name a few, so you really cannot deny their contributions to indie rock. And the Pixies famously covered “Head On.” Don’t let that poor quality video cloud why you shouldn’t see them live. Perhaps this will change your mind: