Monday, August 13, 2007

[092] Screamadelica

Album: Screamadelica
Artist: Primal Scream
Release Date: September 1991
Label: Creation [UK], Sire [US]
Producers: Andrew Weatherall with Hugo Nicolson, Jimmy Miller, The Orb, Hypnotone

Square: “Just what is it that you want to do?”
Hippie: “We want to be free. We want to be free to do what we want to do. And we want to get loaded, and we want to have a good time. That’s what we’re gonna do – We’re gonna have a good time! We’re gonna have a party!”
- intro to “Loaded”
[sampled from the 1966 b-movie The Wild Angels, starring Peter Fonda]

For the purpose of chronicling Rock & Roll history, Primal Scream have more essential albums (three) than they are an essential band. This is mostly due to their habit of releasing one or two minor classics, then screwing up their own momentum by following with a mediocre, forgettable record with one or two great singles buried within. In that way, their albums are very much portraits of their time. Listening to their third album, Screamadelica now, it’s not the experience it was then, but it is still possible to hear in it the wonder of discovery and freedom that came along with that time. I was originally going to include their 2000 Electro-Industrial-Rock monster, XTRMNTR, but despite the inclusion of key figures (My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields, DFA’s Tim Goldsworthy), and its flawless marriage of machine and man, it didn’t have the impact it could have. On the other hand, without Screamadelica, a revolutionary hybrid of Classic Rock, Dub production, and Acid House and Rave culture, none of their other albums would exist.

I call Screamadelica ‘revolutionary’ because it includes the song that is pretty much ground zero for the remixing of rock music by club DJs, "Loaded". With the rapid rise of the use of MDMA, better known as ecstasy, in the UK, and the subsequent merger of neo-psychedelia with House to spawn raves, emerging DJs needed music to play. They couldn't just spin the classics of Funk or Disco or New Wave or 80’s Indie like The Smiths, Jesus & Mary Chain and Echo & The Bunnymen. They wanted new music, and so they married that UK Indie with the cavernous production of Dub Reggae (a favorite of the late 70’s UK Punk scene), as well as the sounds of the day: the breakbeats of Hip-Hop and the new Techno and House beats coming out of Detroit and New York. The deep echoes and lengthy grooves were a perfect fit for the effects of ecstasy, and raves exploded across Europe. Before Acid House and Rave, and the popularity of bands like The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays, Primal Scream were just another Indie band leaning heavily on The Rolling Stones, some MC5 and The Stooges. When the band started to become interested in the new dance music, they gave a song from their second album to DJ Andrew Weatherall to remix for the increasing indie-friendly danceclubs; the result, “Loaded”, is completely different from the original song, reconstructed by Weatherall as an extended groove that sounded like The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy For The Devil” stripped and flipped inside out. Soaked in dub echo, its calls to “be free” and “get loaded” lent itself to the scene – it was their perfect anthem, unleashed in February 1990, and it changed the world forever.

The epic swirl of “Come Together” followed that August, its psychedelic Gospel flooding the dancefloors and festival fields. Primal Scream were now the party band of the moment, and they dove even further into the altered states and debauchery that came with that. Despite the band being as wasted as humanly possible, Screamadelica attacks like a hydra, due mostly to the various producers that guided the band’s vision to realization. Like “Loaded”, some tracks aimed for the classic, strung-out Stones sound; “Movin’ On Up” and acoustic ballad “Damaged” are less dance-oriented, giving the album its most straight-forward Rock, courtesy of old Stones producer Jimmy Miller. Branching off in the opposite direction from “Loaded” and “Come Together”, Weatherall and ambient-House duo The Orb took the band’s sound deeper in the club direction. “Slip Inside This House” was pure Acid House, “Don’t Fight It, Feel It” bridged Freestyle and Big Beat through classic House, and “Higher Than The Sun” predicted the course of Trip-Hop. Finally, the languid come down of the album’s final act is floating in Dubbed-out ether. “I’m Comin’ Down” and the “Dub Symphony” version of “Higher Than The Sun” lull you with trance-like loops, while closer “Shine Like Stars” is the first of the tender, childlike lullabies that Primal Scream would include on most of their following albums. By the time the song’s chimes and accordion fade, you’re as blissed out as the band, and you know a new day has begun, and you can’t wait for tomorrow to do it again, to get loaded, to have a good time, to have a party.

01. “Movin’ On Up”
02. “Slip Inside This House”
03. “Don’t Fight It, Feel It” [feat. Denise Johnson]
04. “Higher Than The Sun”
05. “Inner Flight”
06. “Come Together”
07. “Loaded”
08. “Damaged”
09. “I’m Comin’ Down”
10. “Higher Than The Sun (A Dub Symphony In Two Parts)”
11. “Shine Like Stars”
- The US version of the album contains the Terry Farley single mix of “Come Together”, which features Bobby Gillespie’s vocals and clocks in at 8 minutes; if you buy the CD at your local Best Buy, this is what you’ll get. On the other hand, the UK version contains Andrew Weatherall’s 10-minute instrumental version, and most versions of the album available for download on the internet are this version. iTunes curiously does not offer either version, omitting it from their store despite carrying the other 10 songs on the album. Odd.

Finally, I would just like to apologize for these videos. It’s not so much my fault, or the YouTube quality, as it is the fact that they are some of the worst videos ever. The band was clearly too high to even control their motor functions, let alone function in front a camera...still, the tunes are good.

"Loaded" [single edit - video]

- BONUS: "Come Together" [single edit - video]
- BONUS: "Movin' On Up" [video]
- BONUS: "Higher Than The Sun" [video]
- BONUS: "Loaded" at the 1994 Reading Festival, with Mick Jones (The Clash) and David Gahan (Depeche Mode)

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