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(Credit: Paul Rider)

Music

Check out My Bloody Valentine's cover of 'Mary Mary' by The Monkees

@SamWKemp

We’re back with another unique cover by My Bloody Valentine. Formed in Dublin in 1983, the era-defining shoegaze outfit’s blend of swirling reverberated guitars, dense harmonies and experimental textures on 1991’s Loveless nearly bankrupted Creation Records. However, it also cemented MBV as one of the most innovative acts of the early ’90s. Today, they represent a fleeting chapter in UK music history that remained under the shadow of Britpop for many years. Since the 2010s, however, the group have taken on intense cult appeal.

My Bloody Valentine’s music took time to evolve. Raised on a diet of Ramones LPs, Kevin Shields was always obsessed with distortion. However, his employment of those trademark pitch bends came later, shaping the band’s songwriting in their warped wake. This early cover of The Monkees ‘Mary, Mary,’ from a 1988 live show reveals that MBV’s chaotic sound has its roots in punk rather than prog, as is often assumed. That being said, the band’s decision to reinvent an old West Coast classic certainly hints at a penchant for the pop structures and textures of the 1960s.

Released in 1967, ‘Mary Mary’ was written by Michael Nesmith before the joined The Monkees. In fact, it wasn’t even a Monkees original. The track was initially recorded by The Paul Butterfield Blues Band on their 1966 East-West album. As laid out in Glenn Baker’s Monkeemania, the president of Elektra ended up getting in trouble when The Monkees’ version came out because he had no idea that one of The Monkees had penned it in the first place.

On release, ‘Mary, Mary was an instant hit. As with many of the group’s most beloved singles, it features drummer Micky Dolenz on lead vocals, who also sand lead on ‘I’m A Believer and Pleasant Valley Smith’. It’s easy to see why Shields and company were drawn to ‘Mary Mary’. The original track is a brooding slice of jangle-pop laden with close harmonies and hard-spined percussion.

In My Bloody Valentine’s hands, The Monkees’ crystal clear guitar lines and tight-knit vocals are smashed into a tiny thousand pieces. As Shields delivers a punk-era drawl, duel guitars pull out reels and reels of feedback, weaving a hot mess of distortion that makes it nearly impossible to tell what the hell is going on. We wouldn’t have it any other way.