They had a brilliant idea, the Reid brothers: sticking a layer of white noise over the top of what were basically Ramones/Spector-ish pop songs. It doesn’t sound like much, but it resulted in at least three of the most thrilling and audacious singles ever released by a British band: Upside Down, Never Understand and You Trip Me Up.
Of the three, it was You Trip Me Up that, almost literally, did my head in. For months after its release (in 1985), I used to play it full blast through the headphones until my ears rang. Of course, I was an idiot teenager then (which doesn’t explain why I still do it now).
There’s a great little pop song in there somewhere. But it’s crushed by the weight of this squalling, squealing mess of feedback and noise. At times it seems like the song might win the battle and rise above it all. But any hope of that happening is dashed around the two minute mark when a new, louder layer of feedback delivers the killer blow.
They never got better than this, the Mary Chain. Once they got rid of the white noise they became merely a fairly decent indie band. Which is about as much as anyone could expect. Unlike those they influenced – such as Sonic Youth and the vastly overrated (though great) My Bloody Valentine – they weren’t interested in being artists. They were interested in rock & roll. And, truth be told, they were probably always a little bit pissed off about the fact that, rather than getting out after the first (almost perfect) album, they carried on for as long as they did.
The video here doesn’t do the song justice. If you’ve got Spotify, get your headphones on, click the link and crank it up high: You Trip Me Up.