When Primal Scream arrived in the mid-80s as an indie-pop band with an ever-changing line-up that had then included vocalist Bobby Gillespie, guitarists Andrew Innes and Robert “Throb” Young, and then-part time keyboardist Martin Duffy. Following a couple of albums that featured their indie-pop sound with elements of traditional rock and jangle-pop, the band wasn’t going anywhere until one of their songs from their second self-titled in I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have was remixed by a house DJ named Andrew Weatherall that became the track Loaded.
Spurred by the remix, that was released in 1990, and the introduction of the acid house music scene at the time. Primal Scream decided to change gears a bit to reflect what was going on in British music as they brought in Weatherall to help produce the album along with various others that included the ambient-house duo the Orb, Hugo Nicolson, Hypnotone, and legendary Rolling Stones producer Jimmy Miller. Drawing upon various musical styles into one entire album, the result wouldn’t just be a breakthrough for the band. It would be an album that would change the face of British popular music as it was called Screamadelica.
Produced by Andrew Weatherall, Jimmy Miller, Hypnotone, the Orb, and Hugo Nicolson, Screamadelica is a concoction of an album where everything happens for the ultimate party album. Featuring different styles of music from acid house, blues-rock, dub, gospel, ambient, and indie. The album also dwells into various lyrical themes recalling a party going all over the place. The result is truly one of the most thrilling and intoxicating albums of the 1990s.
Opening the album is the upbeat Movin’ On Up with its gospel-inspired lyrics, driving guitar, and soulful piano as Bobby Gillespie sings in bluesy vocal style to its inspirational lyrics that includes a gospel choir. The song is followed by a bopping electronic beats, Martin Duffy’s blues-based pianos, and wailing guitar solos to maintain its mix of acid-dance and gospel. A cover of 13th Floor Elevator’s Slip Inside This House is a track that is given hypnotic, electronic make-over with throbbing rhythms, flourishing keyboards, and a bopping bass line as Gillespie sings the psychedelic-induced song. Featuring elements of sitars and wailing guitars, it’s the track that maintains the acid-house ideas into the record.
Don’t Fight It, Feel It is a house-inspired track led by Denise Johnson’s evocative yet soulful vocals that is carried by the track’s upbeat yet dance-driven rhythm. Filled with party-driven lyrics, textured keyboard loops, and bits of crunching guitar, it’s a song that really gets the party into a major high. Higher Than the Sun is a chilling yet somber piece led by fluid keyboard wails and Gillespie’s swooning vocals that is filled with hazy lyrics, walloping beats, and high-pitch wails for this slow yet mesmerizing cut. The ambient-inspired instrumental Inner Flight is led by Gillespie’s falsetto-laden vocals that is filled with layers of ominous keyboards and swooning synthesizers that soars through the track to continue the hypnotic party vibe of the album.
The ten-minute, twenty-five second track Come Together opens with Jesse Jackson’s speech at the 1972 Wattstax concert which goes on for about half of the house-gospel track with wailing organs and swirling keyboards accompanying Jackson’s voice. With a female voice singing inspirational lyrics, throbbing beats and a blues-based piano help accompany the track as it is the album’s major highlight. Loaded opens with voice sample of Peter Fonda from The Wild Angels for this acid-house track with a group of gospel voices kicking things off. Featuring an array of samples that includes Andie MacDowell’s voice from sex, lies, & videotape, drum loops from Edie Brickell’s What I Am, and Gillespie singing bluesy lyrics. The track is one of the band’s greatest cuts as it features hypnotic, throbbing beats and a bluesy guitar that keeps the party going.
The blues-inspired Damaged is led by Martin Duffy’s somber piano and Gillespie’s soulful vocals with heartbreaking lyrics. Featuring a soft, smooth percussion track and a wailing vocal, the song goes into a touching blues-rocker that features a wailing guitar solo from Henry Olsen. I’m Comin’ Down is an ambient-driven track with a gong slowly playing in the background as Gillespie sings hazy lyrics to wind down the party atmosphere of the album. Featuring a bleeping yet hypnotic keyboard that becomes more soaring along with a evocative saxophone, it’s one of the album’s standout cuts.
A dub-driven version of Higher Than the Sun (A Dub Symphony in Two Parts) starts off as an eerie, synthesizer-driven cut with slow, metallic beats in the background that is surrounded by Gillespie’s vocals as it later becomes a throbbing, bass-driven track led by Jah Wobble’s bass with melodic keyboard riffs and walloping beats in the background. The album closer is the soft, electronic-based Shine Like Stars as it features tingling keyboards and throbbing beats as Gillespie sings cosmic lyrics as he’s later followed by swooning keyboards to close the album.
The 20th Anniversary edition of the album features the album remastered in its entirety, by the members of Primal Scream and Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine, to emphasize more layers to the production work made by varied producers for the album. The edition also features three additional discs of material for the release that includes remixes, rarities, live tracks, and a remastered version of the 1992 Dixie-Narco EP that was recorded at the legendary Ardent Studios in Memphis, Tennessee.
The second disc is a live performance from the Los Angeles Palladium in 1992 as it opens with Movin’ On Up that is filled with more driving guitars and walloping percussions as it is followed by a blazing piano flourish. Slip Inside This House maintains its throbbing, acid-dance presentation with some guitars playing in the background. The more upbeat Don’t Fight It, Feel It that is filled with swanky guitar riffs and pulsating beats to keep the party going. I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have keeps the energy going for its upbeat, blues-rocker with some blazing guitars and a smooth, pulsating rhythm with lyrics of the Faces' Stay with Me in the song. The ballad Damaged slow things down a bit as the vocals of Bobby Gillespie and Denise Johnson are a real highlight of the song as it features a live drum track for the performance. A shortened performance of Screamadelica brings the house vibe of the show back with some trumpets and throbbing percussions playing with some swanky guitars.
Loaded ups the party vibe going with its acid-house presentation with beats, electronic textures, a blaring horn section, and funky guitar riffs. Come Together, which is presented in its American version, features vocals by Gillespie and Johnson as they play off each other to the song’s house-driven vibe. Higher Than the Sun adds a bit of reggae to the song as it features more wailing guitars to the slow, acid-dance presentation along with lyrics from various artists like Led Zeppelin and Sly Stone. Things close down in a couple of rock covers for a blazing cover of John Lennon’s Cold Turkey and charging cover of the Stooges’ No Fun, the latter of featuring lyrics of the Stooges’ Gimme Danger.
The third disc is a collection of remixes for a few of the singles released from the album plus a couple of rarities. The first two remixes are for the song Loaded where the first is a 12” mix by Terry Farley that features more pianos and trumpets for the track along with vocals from the original song I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have. The second remix is a 7” mix by Pat Collier that is essentially a shorter mix of the song with edits on the instrumentals and samples. The next five remixes are for the song Come Together as the first is a short, 7” mix of a U.S. version of the song by Terry Farley with less instrumentals and more vocals from Bobby Gillespie. The second mix is a 7” mix by Andrew Weatherall is essentially a shortened mix of the original song. The extended 12” Terry Farley mix of the song is the song that appears in the U.S. version of the album that features more bluesy piano, Gillespie’s vocals, and throbbing beats for a gospel-house track.
The Hypnotone Brain Machine mix of the track is a fast-paced mix with more scratchy, throbbing beats and flashy synthesizer blares for a wild, acid-house driven track. The BBG mix of the track features shimmering keyboards, walloping beats, and warbling bass lines to play up the gospel elements of the track. The next three tracks are remixes for Higher Than the Sun as the first is a mix by the Orb that features more ambient textures to play up the beats with additional bass warbles. The second mix is a 12” mix that extends the track by nearly two minutes with additional synthesizer warbles and extended instrumental pieces. The third mix entitled (American Spring Mix) adds elements of the dubbed version plus the original track with Gillespie’s vocals.
The next four tracks are remixes for the song Don’t Fight It, Feel It as the first is an edited 7” mix by Andrew Weatherall that is essentially a shortened mix of the track with the vocals opening up the track. The second mix is by Graham Massey that features brief sitar flourishes to open the track as it’s mostly carried by throbbing beats, driving guitars, and layers of fluid synthesizers to play up the dance presentation as it includes heightened vocals. The scat mix by Andrew Weatherall that is essentially an extended mix of his 7” mix with more metallic beats, throbbing rhythms, and extended house piano riffs. The (High High…) mix by Graham Massey is essentially the same mix as his other remix though it includes a bit of additional synthesizers in the background. The two extra tracks that appear on the third disc includes I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have that appeared in the band’s self-titled second album and a live, raucous cover of the MC5’s Ramblin’ Rose.
The fourth disc is the Dixie-Narco EP that opens up with Movin’ On Up while it features three other tracks. The first is Stone My Soul, a blues-inspired track that features a somber piano and Gillespie’s soulful vocals with a twangy guitar slide. The third track is a cover of the Beach Boys’ Carry Me Home that starts off as a blues-driven track with a gospel choir and reverb guitars as Gillespie sings the song’s dreamy lyrics before becoming this ominous track with swooning keyboards. The closing track of the EP is a ten-minute, fifty-second track called Screamadelica that is essentially a house-driven track with throbbing beats, a smooth trumpet, a melodic flute, and rhythmic keyboards as female vocalists sings the song that goes through various stylistic changes throughout.
Released in September 23, 1991 in Britain, the album was the band’s breakthrough as it was well-received with critics while becoming a major hit in the British charts. In the U.S., the album received moderate success as it helped define the acid-dance movement at its peak as the British music scene was still in need of an alternative from the mainstream pop that was dominating the charts. The album would win many accolades from critics including the first ever Mercury Music Prize in 1992 as the band was becoming one of the key acts in Britain for the years to come.
Screamadelica is an exotic yet mesmerizing album from Primal Scream featuring an amazing array of music styles carried by the various producers involved with the album. For people new to the group, this record is definitely the best place to start with as it would lead other great albums like Vanishing Point and XTRMNTR. The album’s 20th Anniversary edition is something that hardcore fans must have as it features rarities and material that they would love to have. In the end, Screamadelica is truly one of the definitive party albums ever created from Primal Scream.
Primal Scream Albums: (Sonic Flower Groove) - (S/T) - (Give Out but Don’t Give Up) - Vanishing Point - (Echo Dek) - (XTRMNTR) - (Evil Heat) - (Dirty Hits) - (Shoot Speed: More Dirty Hits) - (Live in Japan) - (Riot City Blues) - (Beautiful Future)
© thevoid99 2011