Sunday, June 16, 2013 Leave a Comment
If there’s one band that truly embodies the spirit of musical evolution, it is Primal Scream. These Glaswegian indie-rockers have reinvented themselves more times than Sean Combs has changed his name. From early recordings which showcased their punk rock influences, through to lashings of fuzz-pop, old school rock, indie/acid-house fusion, then on to jazz, blues, soul, and even a lil bit of coun’tree, you’d be hard pressed to find a band that can boast such a broad spectrum of musical genres in their discography. And yet, it is this overly dynamic nature of the band’s musical stylings that has often invited criticism from both public and the press.
There is no doubt that the 1992 release of “Screamadelica” was both a coming of age for Primal Scream and a seminal album that launched a fusion of indie-rock/acid-house tracks into the hearts and minds of a new generation of club-goers. From the album’s first single – Loaded, which features the infamous sample spoken by Peter Fonda in the 60’s cult flick The Wild Angels (“We wanna be free to do what we wanna do and we wanna get loaded and have a good time…”) to the feel good hit, Come Together complete with sample from Jesse Jackson’s opening sermon at the 72 Wattstax Music Festival and gospel choir, this was an album that broke new ground and set the band on their path to super stardom. If ever there was an album to listen to when coming down, or on a bleary-eyed Sunday morning, this would be the one.
So two years later when their follow up album “Give Out But Don’t Give Up” was released, there were high expectations for the band to continue paving their way into alt-rock history. Instead, they delivered an album which unashamedly heralded back to their old-school rock, funk and soul influences. The first single, Rocks which lent heavily from bands such as The Stones, proved to be the band’s highest charting single to date. Even so, the album as a whole met with a lukewarm response- the very clubbers who had embraced the band midst a surge of ecstasy-driven free-love now threw their chupa-chups at the band with a sense of betrayal. And the critics that heralded the band the pioneers of techno/rock/dub fusion, called the album a step back and labelled it derivative retro-rock.
I personally think people got it wrong. Each album is sonically sublime when enjoyed in the right context. “Give Out But Don’t Give Up” is the album you play when you are getting ready to hit the town- when the Jager bombs are being lined up and sucked back with reckless abandon; “Screamadelica” is what you play when you arrive home at 3am, still psyched from the evenings events and wanting to chill and talk about nothing and everything to whoever is prepared to listen. In short, “Give Out” makes me want to scream out, and “Screamadelica” makes me wanna make out!
“Primal Scream make music they hope will touch people’s lives like so much other music has touched theirs. They make music that celebrates feeling. Feeling good, feeling bad. Music that will stand by your side. That’s all.” So said Tommy Tooher- Primal Scream’s ‘spiritual advisor’ in 1994
Some music fans are afraid of change- they revel in the safety of their favourite bands- the artists who have remained phonically stagnant since they first crowd surfed their way into the spotlight. And there’s nothing wrong with that. After all, if it ain’t broke, right? But at the same time, there’s something to be said for those musical innovators- those risk-taking auteurs who choose not to create a follow-up album that sounds the same as the one it preceded just because it was a hit. Primal Scream have never shied away from allowing their sound to move with the times whilst still paying homage to the bands that influenced them. Lead Singer Bobby Gillespie said it perfectly during an interview with NME magazine in 1990- “You can take inspiration from the good things that happened yesterday and turn them into something for today…It’s like, I really believe in transience, I think if you accept transience you’re never going to get stuck in the past… It all ties in with being in a group and changing. In 1985 you made a certain kind of record. In 1990 it’s different. It’s different- It’s five fucking years! The world has turned so many times since then.”
This undoubtedly explains the enduring popularity of the group and the fact that both albums still retain a freshness more than 20 years after their initial release. Embark on a journey and enjoy the albums in their entirety when you’re next in the mood for a bit of good old fashioned rock…. Or maybe some soul…. Or some funk…. Or something psychedelic….. Get the picture?….Just go and play them now!