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Saturday, January 5, 2019

My Bloody Valentine: This Is Your Bloody Valentine


1) Forever And Again; 2) Homelovinʼ Guy; 3) Donʼt Cramp My Style; 4) Tiger In My Tank; 5) The Love Gang; 6) Inferno; 7) The Last Supper.

General verdict: Not so much humble as slavish beginnings; a historical curio that is as astonishingly disconnected from the bandʼs major legacy as your baby teeth are from your grave.

Okay, I honestly wish I didnʼt have to do this, but since I do run a small collection of «hopelessly hopeless beginnings by future great artists» down in my imaginary basement, This Is Your Bloody Valentine still requires a quick check-in. Recorded somewhere in West Berlin sometime in late 1984, this seven-song mini-album fulfills the important mission of letting you, the listener, understand why the band that made Loveless happened to be called My Bloody Valentine in the first place. Featuring seven songs, with all credits shared equally by guitar / bass player Kevin Shields, drummer Colm Ó Cíosóig, and vocalist David Conway, this mini-album is a collection of just about every cliché that these guys could appropriate from the post-punk, goth-rock, and noise-rock underground of the late 1970s / early 1980s — and nothing else.

It is not unlistenable: the West Berlin production is passable, the playing is decent enough, and Conway had some vocal talent to burn. And, at least in theory, there is nothing inherently wrong in having your first album sound way too close to its influences. Problems begin when you under­stand that there is nothing here, nothing at all, except for unsatisfactory results of the process of searching for oneʼs own identity. On one song, this results in them sounding exactly like Bauhaus; on another, they end up sounding exactly like The Birthday Party; a third one, and you get Joy Division; fourth, you get Echo And The Bunnymen; fifth, you get The Smiths. The only thing you do not get at all is even a single sign that this band is going anywhere special. Or just any­where, period. This is as generically imitative as it gets.

I suppose we could congratulate them on some impressive imitation talents — Conway pulls off quite a convincing Morrissey on ʽThe Last Supperʼ (even though Tina Durkinʼs keyboard solo is more close to ʽLight My Fireʼ era Ray Manzarek), and his Peter Murphy on ʽForever And Againʼ ainʼt half-bad either. On the other hand, his Nick Cave on ʽDonʼt Cramp My Styleʼ could use a lot more roar and gargle — clearly, Conway never possessed the required madman essence. As for Shields, I suppose that some of the guitar and bass melodies here could serve as indications of the talents-to-come, but the manʼs major contribution to mankind would be in the form of sonic textures rather than chord sequences, and since there are no original sonic textures here to speak of, all we can do is pretend to enjoy the deeply derivative feedback crunches or, occasionally, the even more deeply derivative fuzzy garage riffs that hearken all the way back to the Nuggets era (ʽTiger In My Tankʼ could just as well be written by The Chocolate Watchband).

From this point of view, I suppose that really huge fans of the entire early 1980s post-punk scene, the ones who just keep on wanting more and more of the same, could allocate enough time and goodwill to enjoy this stuff. Those who love their MBV for the stuff that made them MBV and not second-rate imitators, though, will simply accept this as a brief lesson on the bandʼs history. 


  1. Good review, excited to see your take on the MBV catalog beyond the earlier Sunday Island Disc Reviews. The saving grace of this album may just be it is only 25min. It's not bad per se, but I agree it's mostly just blatant ripoffs of all things hip in the post-punk world. Luckily they'd find their own identity and unique path soon after.

  2. Yeah, Georgiy, you're not going to find anything to write home about in the pre-1988 MBV catalogue. Most fans have probably only listened two or three times, tops, to this or any of those "EP"s that followed. I know I sure as hell haven't.