The Album List #27: Primal Scream “Screamadelica”

Acid trip ahead.

It won the very first Mercury Music Prize. How some random indie Scottish band that could never keep it’s membership turned out the greatest of the house records remains a mystery. The singer was once the drummer for the Jesus and Mary Chain, ferchrissakes. But here it is, the best album to pull out during a party ever created. From the moment I heard the opening notes of album opener “Movin’ On Up”, I knew I was in for something special. The problem I had with much of the dance music I was hearing at the time was its reliance on disco and pop beats, neglecting the harder edge that makes bands like New Order and the Happy Mondays great. There is always a deeper authenticity when you have real music as opposed to tinny synths and drum machines when you are creating rock-based dance music. There is something amazing about those guitars.

Primal Scream is an example of a good but somewhat unspectacular rock band who added a new level to their music and became legendary. The first two Scream albums were good, but nothing to be overwhelmed by. Their adaptation of acid house into their bag of tricks by enlisting the help of DJ Andrew Weatherall to remix an old song into what would become their greatest song, “Loaded”. Taking the old song and remixing it with an Edie Brickell loop, a Peter Fonda quote, and pushing the percussion and bass line forward, you get the definitive acid house rock track.

Whether it’s the church organs and sirens of “Come Together”, the odd howls and laughs of “Don’t Fight It, Feel It”, or their rebuilding of the 13th Floor Elevators’ classic “Slip Inside This House” from garage rock brilliance to trance dance masterpiece, with Bobby Gillespie’s droning vocal replacing Roky Erikson’s feverish yelp, the album is fearless in its expansion of what the indie rock sound could be. Some songs push it further than other’s, but the band didn’t give a fuck and just did what they wanted. Alan McGee, the head of Creation Records, the band’s label, was notorious for being the man artists could push around (see: My Bloody Valentine,  Several albums on down). Primal Scream benefitted from this freedom.

There was also clever use of sampling on this album, from Brian Eno through Can, Sly Stone and their own earlier work. A richly complex sonic structure matched with drunken frat boy swagger and some gorgeous backing vocals throughout the record, it’s the apex of early nineties dance music.

Then they had to throw the beautiful acoustic “Damaged” on the record just to make me cry every single time. Bastards.


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