Album Review: Primal Scream – Screamadelica


That this album is a classic should go without saying. Long overdue for a shelf friendly box set reissue it has been released at a time when ears old and new to the sound of Primal Scream can gain an appreciation of how ground-breaking the fusion of gospel, psychedelia, techno dance, dub and the swagger of the Stones truly was. A testament to its relevancy that it still sounds fresh today.

Originally released in 1991, Primal Scream’s psychedelic dance rock masterpiece Screamadelica was given a 20th anniversary reissue remastered by Primal Scream & Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine) in 2011. Now in 2015, it gets a deserving 4CD reissue complete with 20 page booklet, alternate mixes, a live album recorded at The Hollywood Palladium & The Dixie Narco EP. And then there’s the cover art, inspired by a ceiling ‘water spot’ seen through acid eyes!

Primal Scream formed by Glaswegians Bobby Gillespie & Jim Beattie in 1982 but didn’t release an album until 1987, mainly due to Gillespie’s ongoing membership in the Jesus & Mary Chain – he left them mid ’86 after the release and touring of Psychocandy. Commercial success eluded Primal Scream until 1991 with their third album, Screamadelica, landing them Melody Maker’s album of the year and the initial Mercury Music Prize. They still release relevant music, their latest studio album Chaosmosis is released in March next year.

The album opens with ‘Movin On Up’, the gospel-groove stones swagger lets you instantly know your ears are in for a fine ride, followed by the inspired dance acid house reworking of a 13th Floor Elevators track from their 1967 album ‘Easter Everywhere’, ‘Slip Inside This House’ is unique in being one of the few Primal scream tracks not featuring vocals by Gillespie (He was too wasted during recording!) ‘Don’t Fight It, feel It’ brings back the electronic house dance feel, sampled percussion, prominent bass dub and that irrepressible beat. Then ‘Higher Than The Sun’ breaks through the speakers in a chilled out haze commanding a slow toe tapping that flows into the shimmering bliss of ‘Inner Light’. ‘Come Together’ continues the chilled house vibe and is nicely placed as the central track on the album, being the longest track, turning in at over ten minutes.

‘Loaded’ follows, opening with some Peter Fonda spoken word, the track is a remix of ‘I’m Losing More than I’ll Ever Have’, from Primal Scream’s eponymous second album, remixed by Andrew Weatherall in 1990 to such a radical extent it deserved its own release. In this sense, ‘Loaded’ was probably the framework on which they built Screamadelica.

‘Damaged’ and ‘Come Down’ are just that, a couple of bring down numbers lamenting the intoxicating chase and chaos of drugs and love, or is it love and drugs. A dub symphony remix of ‘Higher Than The Sun’ continues their reinterpretation of their own work and album closer ‘Shine Like Stars’ is a lovely track which brings to mind just what it is that makes this album so remarkable. The myriad genres combined in precise amounts at appropriate moments to impeccable effect.

In the end, Primal Scream’s decision to enlist the production help of Andrew Weatherall, Hugo Nicolson, The Orb and Jimmy Miller was a game-breaker. Screamadelica was the album that impacted dance, acid house, techno and alternative rock genres in such a significantly all-pervading manner that it justifies its status as a ‘classic’ and an essential album for any music lover’s collection.

Rating 9/10

Artist: Primal Scream
Album Title: Screamadelica
Label: Creation Records
Genre: Alternative Rock, Dance Rock, Acid House
Moments Of Stand Out: Movin’ On Up (Track 1), Higher Than The Sun (Tracks 4 & 10), Come Together (Track 6) Loaded (Track 7)

This review was written by Brendan.

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