‘Warning: this album contains extreme sounds which could damage musical equipment when played at high volume.’
A statement like this talks to you when you’re an impressionable teenager. It’s a sentence from the sleeve notes of the 1991 Jesus Jones album Doubt.
It was unquestionably my favourite album of the 1990s. I played it to death. It was my release from anxieties. A space within which I could lose myself.
It’s easy to forget that music wasn’t as accessible back then. For me, buying an album meant a 12-mile bus trip into Bournemouth and a visit to HMV. Getting hold of new music took effort. We appreciated it more as a result.
I remember sitting on a park bench in Bournemouth, clutching the unplayed Jesus Jones CD. I loved everything about it: the deranged and hypnotic cover, the artwork on the disc, and the warning about extreme sounds.
Then there was the music. Doubt is a fast and frenetic journey through the fantastical mind of Mike Edwards. The first five tracks are over within 15 minutes, by which time you’ve consumed three classics in the form of Who? Where Why?, International Bright Young Thing and Right Here, Right Now.
I’m not going to pretend that Doubt spoke to me in a profound and meaningful way. I’m not saying it changed my life. I remained an introverted and slightly awkward teenager, never happier than when I had music playing through the headphones of my Goodmans personal CD player.
Going Somewhere, Going Nowhere
Two things stick in my mind. I had a weekend job at Sainsbury’s, where the staff were invited on a coach trip to Alton Towers. A seven-hour round trip in a car. Longer in a coach.
I played Doubt on repeat. The closing track Blissed separated from the opening track Trust Me only by the mechanical whirring of the cheap Goodmans unit I bought with my wages from Sainsbury’s.
It’s thanks to this trip that I’ll forever associate the simmering brilliance of I’m Burning with the suburban wastelands of Staffordshire, and the beautifully mellow Blissed with the seemingly endless hard shoulder on the journey home. Few tracks sound as good on an empty motorway in the early hours of the morning.
The other thing that sticks in my head is my Mum’s insistence on me not wearing a Jesus Jones t-shirt. Although she’s not an overly religious person, she rejected to the blasphemous nature of the name, despite my protests that Jesús is as common in some countries as John is over here.
Mum was having none it, although I was free to wear an EMF t-shirt. Unbelievable.
Let it All in – Don’t Let it All Pass You By
It’s 30 years since Doubt was recorded in a London studio. Today it plays like a Jesus Jones greatest hits album – and not just because it contains some of the band’s most successful tracks. It’s 37 minutes of hope, optimism and, as the sleeve notes state, ‘noise thrills.’
Three decades on, the album has stood the test of time. Which is more than can be said about my Goodmans headphones, which were never the same after being subjected to death by Doubt.
I’m blaming Stripped, which sounds like the kind of track that should be used to test the quality or otherwise of a speaker. I’d be very surprised if the CIA didn’t use it as a weapon of psychological warfare.
Thanks for the memories, Mike Edwards et al. Did we ever find out if takes one and two of Welcome Back Victoria were actually erased?