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Record Collector Article


Bobby Gillespie must have an impressive record collection. The outspoken Scot has, over the last few years, mounted an evangelical crusade to educate the great unwashed about his passions. Patti Smith, the Rolling Stones, the Ramones, the MC5, Love, the Who, the Byrds - if all of Gillespie's enthusiastic tirades on the richer elements of rock's tapestry were printed, the book would be several inches thick. His unerring obsession with rock'n'roll also led him to form Primal Scream, a band which he devoted to creating music as powerful, uplifting and beautiful as his idols - and with their last album, 1991's "Screamadelica", they undoubtedly succeeded.

Bobby's recent stance, however, has switched from offensive to defensive. After a two-year sabbatical, Primal Scream's return in March with a Top 10 single, "Rocks", and a new LP, "Give Out But Don't Give Up", has attracted a fair degree of criticism. The best-selling "Screamadelica" received universal praise for its musical ingenuity and uncanny crystallisation of drug-driven club culture. In contrast, the Primals' 1994 offerings have been panned in some quarters as derivative retro rock, a criticism fuelled by the overt Stones reference points on "Rocks".

Dig a little deeper, though, and you'll realise "Give Out . .." is a more varied collection than the critics have claimed, with the band delving into funk, soul and rock like pirates able to plunder all the treasures of pop history at will. And that's what Primal Scream are about: what they've always tried to achieve, since their inception in the mid-80s. Just take a look at Bobby Gillespie's waif-like figure as he prances about on stage, seemingly half-cut, in the promo video for "Rocks"; there's a sense of fun and mischief about the whole affair. This isn't a reverent reconstruction of the Faces or the Stones in a serious, Black Crowes kind of way. After all, Bobby Gillespie hardly resembles the archetypal rock god - on stage, his gawky efforts at Jagger-like posturing share more in common with Mr. Bean than Robert Plant.

Until 1990, Primal Scream was essentially an idea waiting to happen. A string of precious, Byrds-influenced singles between 1985 and 1987 attracted a strong cult following, but this momentum was wilted by a disappointing, over-produced debut album. Taking stock, Primal Scream returned with a new line-up and a more mature sound in 1989, mixing Stooges-type heavy rock with low-key, introspective ballads. But the response was still lukewarm. It wasn't until one of the ballads was radically remixed that Primal Scream finally came of age.

The result, "Loaded", sold more copies than their entire previous output, and became an anthem which bridged the divide between guitar-hungry rock audiences and beat-obsessed club goers. Fuelled by this spectacular fusion, Primal Scream ploughed the furrow further, culminating in the essen- tial, prize-winning "Screamadelica" album. It had taken nearly a decade, but Bobby Gillespie had come a long way since his early teens, rolling around on a friend's floor screaming his head off while his mates concocted an unlistenable racket in the name of punk rock.

A child of the early 60s, Bobby Gillespie grew up in a quiet suburb of Glasgow, weened on the pop of the Beatles and glam rock. At an early age, he became friends with Alan McGee, who was a couple of years above him at school, and together they immersed themselves in music, old and new. When punk arrived, McGee and Gillespie were totally awe-struck; here was a vital, energetic sound that matched the raw aggression of their favourite 60s bands like the Who and the Stones.

Inspired by punk's anyone-can-do-it ethos, the pair knew what had to be done. Replying to an advertisement, McGee contacted Andrew Innes, and together they started rehearsing to form a band, before drafting in Bobby as 'vocalist'. Alan now recalls their very first attempts with amusement: "We used to go round and drink beer at Andrew Innes's and Bobby used to roll around and just scream! We had, like, four rehearsals. That's January 1978." Gillespie is keen to emphasise that his role was miniscule. "It was really Andrew's band," he told Brian Hogg, author of 'The History Of Scottish Rock And Pop'. "They had guitars and could play punk rock songs."

With names like the Drains and Captain Scarlet & the Mysterons, it's probably just as well the trio never got any further than the living room, but all three teenagers were hooked. Innes and McGee persevered, briefly joining up with Neil Clarke (later in Lloyd Cole's Commotions) in a new band called H20, who later had a couple of synth pop hits in 1983. An embarrassed McGee is keen to set the record straight: "I was only in the band for three weeks, and four gigs. But Andrew Innes and Neil Clarke also were both in H2O - if I'm gonna take the blame, then they may as well get it too! They we realised it was gonna be crap so we left and formed Newspeak, and then we formed the Laughing Apple."

McGee and Innes took their new band to London in 1980, and laid the foundations for what became Creation Records, one of the 8Os' most successful independent labels, currently celebrating its tenth anniversary. The first hurdle was learning how to make records; the Laughing Apple issued three singles in 1981/82, on their own Autonomy and Essential labels. McGee's interests then spread further afield, sad in 1982, he started up his own club to promote cult indie bands like the TV Person- alities and the Go-Betweens. He was also impressed by the enthusiasm of fanzines like Tony Fletcher's 'Jamming!' and published two issues of his own 'Communication Blur'.

Although hundreds of miles apart; McGee and Gillespie kept in touch. Bobby had left school at 16 and worked briefly in a print factory. The work was dull and he soon left, but he'd made a contact which proved extremely useful. In fact, not only did Gillespie contribute the distinctive 'laughing apple' sleeve illustration for the group's second single, "Participate", but he also organised the printing of the sleeves, a factor which proved vital when Creation started up in 1984.

Bobby Gillespie soon teamed up with a school friend, Jim Beattie, to create an unspeakable racket making "elemental noise tapes" in a local scout-hall: Bobby would hit two dustbin lids while Jim messed around with a guitar and fuzz pedal. Learning a few. basic chords, the pair deciphered Velvets and Byrds covers like "Heroin", "Mr Tambourine Man" and "Waiting For The Man" and then set about writing their own songs, based around Jah Wobble (PiL were a big influence) and Peter Hook basslines.

Together, they named themselves Primal Scream, a term concocted by Dr Arthur Janov to describe a cry heard in psychotherapy treatment, which he used as the title for a 1970 book. Still essentially a partnership, Primal Scream stepped out of the scout-hut and onto a stage in 1982.

Another of Bobby's friends was Caesar, lead singer with Glasgow act the Wake, who currently record for the Sarah label. Bobby used to hang around the studio with them, and so he ended up playing bits and bobs on their early releases, and eventually played bass with the group for a while. On their rare debut, "On Our Honeymoon" (Scan SCN 01, 1/82), Gillespie programmed the keyboard on the B-side, "Give Up". Not that exciting, admittedly, but on the next Wake project, an and keyboards and album for Factory entitled "Harmony" (FACT 60, 1/83), he played occasional guitar, bass and keyboards and even wrote the lyrics for one song, "The Old Men". When the Wake played some live dates, with Bobby on bass, the support was Primal Scream: Jim Beattie on guitar and vocals and Bobby on 'percussion'. He also played on the Wake's next single, "Something Outside" (12", Factory Benelux FBN 24, 11/83), their first John Peel session in July 1983, and can be seen on the video for "Uniforms" on the various artists video, "A Factory Outing" (FACT 71, 12/83).

Caesar remembers Primal Scream's live debut as being at Glasgow's Henry Wood Hall, but this appears to be at odds with Gillespie's recollections. "The first-ever Primal Scream gig was at the Bungalow Bar in Paisley", Bobby later claimed. "We supported the Laughing Apple. Only one song in the set was ours, and I remember it was just total noise. That wasn't a real gig, it was a joke. There wasn't any shape to it."

The same can be said for Primal Scream's first recorded evidence. Two cuts can be heard on a 1984 cassette issued by Scars' Robert King as part of the fascinating 'Pleasantly Surprised' series specialising in obscure, exclusive material by cutting edge indie acts. The 24-track "State Of Alfairs" was sandwiched by a short, monotonous industrial-sounding dirge simply entitled "Intro", and a more lengthy, PiL/Throbbing Gristlelike experimental piece, "Circumcision", which ends with some Eastern-style yelling. The music may have been in keeping with their name, but this wasn't the direction Primal Scream were fated to take.

"I just want to be a superstar." (Bobby Gillespie, 1990)

Instead, the pair wanted to indulge their growing love of 60s U.S. folk rock by playing 12-string guitars and creating what Beattie later described as "structured pop songs with real melodies".

Keen to draft in other like-minded souls, the pair approached a friend of Innes's, Nick Low, and Stephen Pastel, who was exploring similar ideas with his band, the Pastels. The pair ran Glasgow's Candy Club, and towards the end of 1983 - maybe early 1984 - they gave Bobby a demo tape they'd received, thinking he'd like some Syd Barrett recordings left on the other side. Instead, he was captivated by the demo, a riot of excessive guitar feedback and melodic three-chord pop songs reminiscent of Phil Spector's girl group sound - Bobby had stumbled on the Jesus & Mary Chain and they blew him away. Having contacted them to find they shared his love of punk and 60s garage/psychedelia, Gillespie recommended they send a tape to McGee, who promptly shared Bobby's enthusiasm and lured the band to London to play at his club, the Living Room.

During the early months of 1984, McGee was heavily involved in Creation, the new record label he'd founded with a refugee from the TV Personalities, Joe Foster. Early releases relied heavily on close friends; the Pastels joined, while Innes conjured up the Revolving Paint Dream, McGee invented Biff Bang Pow! and Foster created Slaughter Joe.

In the meantime, Primal Scream were evolving into a proper band. "I didn't know I was going to be the singer", Bobby later recalled. Beattie went a stage further: "We did a song called 'The Orchard'. Judith (Boyle) was playing violin with us and Bobby had a cold, so we got her to sing. This meant a girl was singing a lyric about a girl ... we burnt the master tape."

Eventually, the pair drafted in a bassist, Robert Young. "Robert had been in a band called "Black Tuesday", Bobby later recounted. "We got him for a gig at the Glasgow School Of Art. He was only in for one song, but after four he left them and joined us." And with the arrival of a drummer, Tom McGurk, Primal Scream were in business.

In the meantime, the Jesus & Mary Chain had signed to Creation and were causing quite a stir in London with the brief, anarchic live sets. By autumn 1984, they'd dispensed with their original drummer and needed a replacement, in order to promote their debut single. And who better than Bobby? True, he couldn't play the drums in the conventional sense, but when he stood at the back with his slight physique and mop haircut, hitting a snare drum as if his life depended on it, his resemblence to the Velvet Underground's Moe Tucker was uncanny. Obsessive Velvets fans, the Mary Chain's Reid brothers had found their replacement: on October 11th 1984, Primal Scream made their official gig debut supporting the Jesus & Mary Chain at Glasgow's Venue, with Bobby then returning to the stage as drummer with the Mary Chain.

Around this time, Primal Scream also circulated a demo tape, comprising "Crystal Crescent", together with "Leaves", "It Happens" and "We Go Down Slowly Rising". The session typified the band's early sound, characterised by Bobby's wistful, effeminate handling of the songs' delicate melodies.

In November, the Jesus & Mary Chain's first delivery of fuzz and feedback, "Upside Down", not only rocked the indie scene but also put Creation Records on the map. A European tour was followed by a major label deal with WEA's Blanco Y Negro, and in March 1985, Bobby was spotted with the Mary Chain on BBC-2's 'Whistle Test'. He also drummed on the band's acclaimed debut album "Psychocandy", pre-empted by two ear-bursting singles, "Never Understand" and 'You Trip Me Up".

Despite his mounting responsibilities with the Reid brothers, Bobby was still able to pursue his ideas for Primal Scream, and in May, the band issued their debut single for Creation. An early tune, "Hollow", was abandoned in favour of the genteel "All Fall Down" and the more energetic "It Happens", both of which recalled the age of 60s summer pop. Housed in a beautiful sleeve with a Francoise Hardy-like photo, this was the perfect antidote to the doom-laden goth sound which dominated the early-80s indie scene.

Not content with being in two of the country's most exciting acts, Bobby also involved himself in a fortnightly Glasgow club, Splash One (named after a 13th Floor Elevators track) to air mixture of great records with live music. As Bobby later explained, "there was nowhere in glasgow to see those bands or hear that kind of music"

In order to swell Primal Scream's sound, their line-up was expanded by a rhythm guitarist, Paul Harte, while Martin 'Joogs' St. John (real name John Martin) and his tambourine injected a new enthusiasm. "Martin brought an attitude to the group", Bobby later enthused. "We'd be working out the arrangement to a song and he'd sit there encouraging us, helping get a vibe going. He found the third Big Star album, which was a big influence on the band."

With this new six-piece line-up came the Primals' first major press coverage in August, which mentions an unheard song called "Careless". A rehearsal tape from that period also contains the Spanish-like "Hollow" and "Sometimes Everything", both staples of the band's early gigs.

Further tracks which have never officially seen the light of day were aired in December, when Primal Scream taped a session for John Peel. Alongside the band's eventual second single, "Crystal Crescent", and "Afermath" and "I Love You" (which both graced the first LP) was the unissued "Subterranean

"What we want in the future is enough money to record properly. I don't mean six months in a studio recording one single like Tears For Fears or some other shits - that's disgustingly decadent." (Bobby Gillespie, 1985)

In February 1986, Gillespie was given an ultimatum. The Jesus & Mary Chain needed a full-time drummer - either he learned to play the drums properly and abandoned Primal Scream or they'd find a replacement. The decision was tough, as Bobby recalled: "I never really enjoyed being in Primal Scream... But the Mary Chain is Jim and William's band and I knew I could express myself better in Primal Scream."

Without the distractions of the Mary Chain or the now-defunct Splash One, Bobby channeled all his energies into his band. Harte departed, soon renaming himself the Electric Cowboy. He was replaced by Stuart May, who - like Bobby's girlfriend - had been in the Submarines, who disbanded after a one-off single for the Head label. It was this line-up which recorded the band's second 45.

The lacklustre "Crystal Crescent" was a disappointment to both the band and their admirers, but the B-side, "Velocity Girl", was superb. Ninety seconds of lyrical attitude, with a melody that soared and soared, the song spearheaded an 'NME' cassette, 'C86', which profiled a clutch of new bands from all over the country - and who gathered for a week of gigs at the ICA. "Velocity Girl" was one of the year's landmarks - it was voted No.4 in Peel's Festive 50 poll - and is rightly cited as the inspiration for the Stone Roses' 1989 single, "Made Of Stone".

A second session for Peel was also taped in May, and featured three cuts. "Leaves" eventually surfaced on the band's first album, but nothing was ever seen of "Tomorrow Ends Today" or "Bewitched And Bewildered". Then in July, Primal Scream visited the BBC's Janice Long, and taped a longer version of 'Velocity Girl" (with an extra verse), plus "Silent Spring", "Imperial" and the exclusive "Feverclaw".

Tensions started to rise within the band, as pressure mounted for delivery of their album. With Alan McGee on the verge of securing a link-up between Creation and WEA, McGurk and May were asked to leave the band, who began 1987 without a drummer. Temporary stopgaps were found in both Dave Greenwood and Dave Morgan (of the Weather Prophets, who were also promoted from Creation to WEA's new Elevation label), as Primal Scream entered the Welsh Rockfield Studios with producer Stephen Street. Six weeks and 40,000 later, a whole LP's worth of recordings were scrapped - but why?

"Residential life did not suit us," Jim Beattie later explained, "and it got really bizarre. We started saying things like 'That cymbal's not right' and changing clothes for every solo. In fact, I threatened Stephen Street that I would play guitar in the nude!" The Rockfield sessions must exist somewhere, but nothing has so far escaped on bootleg.

Enter producer Mayo Thompson of 60s/late 70s experimentalists the Red Krayola, and engineer Pat Collier, who supervised a fresh batch of recordings for Primal Scream's long-awaited debut. A sneak preview of what to expect came in March, when the band were profiled on the TV programme 'Down The Line', which coupled an interview with mimed performances of the band's two forthcoming singles, "Gentle Tuesday" and "Imperial".

The first of these was issued in June in a flurry of publicity. There was even a promo video on 'The Chart Show', with Creation regular Philip King taking the role of drummer. The song boasted a much fuller, more polished sound than before, and Beattie's multi-layered guitar tracks recalled the classic early Byrds line-up - as did the band's clothes, for that matter. The 60s resurrection continued with the bonus 12" cut, a version of the Shadows Of Knight's garage punk classic, "I'm Gonna Make You Mine".


During the summer, Primal Scream's line-up shifted again. St. John returned to art college, and Bobby's old friend Andrew Innes joined as rhythm guitarist, in time for September's excellent new single, "Imperial". Produced by Clive Langer and Cohn Fairley (which suggests it was taped after the forthcoming album), it was backed on the 12" by a dreamy, elongated cover of the Who's "So Sad About Us". The single was performed live, together with "Gentle Tuesday" and "Silent Spring", on the Scottish music show, 'F.S.D.', alongside Bobby's views on the concept of psychedelia, which only heightened the anticipation for the band's forthcoming LP. August's 'Music Master', the trade publication detailing new releases, listed the new album, simply titled "Primal Scream". with a track listing different from the final product, which suggests the band were still unsure about the LP. In fact, three whole tracks, "Tomorrow Ends Today", "Rock" and "Country", were abandoned at the last minute.

The more evocatively-titled "Sonic Flower Groove" finally arrived in October. Aside from the singles, much of the material sounded weak and uninspired, and although some of the songs were superb, they lacked any sense of spontaneity. In their search for perfection, Primal Scream had foundered, unsure of how to capture the magical sound of their idols. And sales were correspondingly modest, despite a nationwide tour in the autumn, with new drummer Gavin Skinner. Uptight, with the fear of failure hanging over them, the band were reaching the end of their first chapter. Soon afterwards, Warners ditched Elevation and Gillespie and Beattie suffered what is commonly described as an acrimonious split. Beattie remained in Glasgow, while Bobby retreated to Brighton to take stock.

"Jim was a folk-rock guitarist but Robert, who'd just switched from bass, had a more bluesy and funky approach. We'd become a rock 'n' roll band." (Bobby Gillespie)

At the start of 1988, the core of Gillespie, Innes and Young went into hibernation on the south coast. Keen to extend their music beyond their previous Byrds/Love fixations, they hardened up their act, and spent months writing new material. In May, a new-look Primal Scream performed at Camden's Dingwalls with a set scattered with new songs and a cover of the Ramones' "Swallow My Pride". And in July, the band appeared on Italian radio with a new line-up, airing tunes like "Ivy Ivy Ivy" (with totally different lyrics) for the first time. Bobby even discussed the songs as if they were in a prototype stage, commenting that some might be merged together and claiming that a new single was planned for October.

In fact, it wasn't until February 1989 that the band emerged with their new line-up and l6nger hair, but the projected single didn't surface until July. Both drummer Philip 'Toby' Tomanov and bassist Henry Olsen had played in the Faction, the backing band for Nico, whose on-the-road tribulations outweighed even Primal Scream's well-publicised excesses. Tomanov's past stretched back to Manchester acts the Blue Orchids and the Nosebleeds, while Olsen's jazz background fitted in neatly with Bobby's burgeoning interest in the likes of John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman.

The new single, "Ivy Ivy Ivy',, was a rock record - in the vein of the Ramones or the MC5, true, but overtly rock in a way which many fans found difficult to swallow. Only on the flip, 'You're Just Too Dark To Care", with its twisted tale of drug abuse, was there evidence of the old Primal Scream.

September's self-titled album offered similar contradictions. On the one hand, the Stooges-inspired, twin-pronged attack of Young's and Innes's Gibson Les Paul guitars was like a pastiche of the Cult, but spliced in between were some of the most captivating, haunting ballads ever written. There was also a free single with very early copies, coupling two fairly haphazard demos for the album.

Throughout the latter half of 1989, Primal Scream hurled themselves headlong into a rock'n'roll lifestyle - if they weren't burning themselves out with the excesses of touring (both self-imposed or otherwise), then they were sampling the hedonistic delights of rave culture at clubs like Brighton's Zap Club and London's Shoom. By chance, they struck up a friendship with Shoom's DJ Andy Weatherall, who put out a football/house music fanzine, 'Boy's Own'. Weatherall was dismayed at the apparent indifference levelled at the new LP, and even reviewed a Primal Scream gig for the 'NME' under the pseudonym, Audrey Witherspoon. A dance DJ getting his rocks off to live covers of the MC5's "Ramblin' Itose" and the Sex Pistols' "Did You No Wrong" - whatever next?

"Some hip hop I've heard is psychedelic. The use of space, the space it opens up in the head."
(Bobby Gillespie, 1987)

"I think white rock is in a slump. The most exciting things around seem to be happening in black dance music."
(Bobby Gillespie, 1990)

"We wanna get loaded, and we wanna have a good time."
(Peter Fonda, 'The Wild Angels', 1967)

On a whim, Andrew Innes gave Weatherall a tape of the album's most uplifting cut, "I'm Losing More Than l'll Ever Have". Perhaps it was the funky ending which prompted him, but it proved to be the most important move in Primal Scream's history. Weatherall had scarcely set foot in a recording studio, aside from remixing the Happy Mondays' excellent "Hallelujah", but he showed an intuitive grasp of the possibilities.

Having stripped the track down to its bare bones, Weatherall added a Soul II Soul beat from a bootleg dance mix of Edie Brickell's "I Am What I Am", and a sample of Peter Fonda as a young, free and easy biker in Roger Corman's late 60s cult flick, 'The Wild Angels' (which had graced Mudhoney's "Superfuzz Bigmuff' LP a year earlier, incidentally). The overall effect brought to mind the Stones' "Sympathy For the Devil", but aside from a brief one-liner, Bobby's vocals were absent.

"Loaded" was justifiably a massive hit, selling around 100,000 copies. Suddenly, Primal Scream were miming on 'Top Of The Pops' (with Ride's singer on keyboards), and fronting magazines as prime movers in what was labelled the "indie/dance crossover". A U.S. deal wasn't far behind - signing to Sire, the band issued a mini-LP, and donated a trippy cover of "Slip Inside This House" (like a psychedelic Happy Mondays) to the old 13th Floor Elevators frontman Roky Erickson's tribute LP, "When The Pyramid Meets The Eye".

Now that Primal Scream had embraced dance music, their live shows (including trips to Europe and Japan) followed suit, and over the next few months, backing tracks, DJs and samplers were incorporated into what was previously an out-and-out rock set. The result was an exotic mixture of sounds and styles, in keeping with the free-for-all, dance-all-night rave mentality but still retaining a rock groove. One track, "Kill The King", even drew on backwards guitars and strings and riixed them with vocals and piano to create a suitably hypnotic effect.

"Gospel and rhythm & blues and jaz;' all those are just labels. We know that music is music."
(Jesse Jackson, sampled on Come Together'; 1990)

In August 1990, Primal Scream delivered their second masterpiece. "Come Together" was another dance anthem, with a strong gospel feel courtesy of the Tabernacle Choir and a distinctive brass section. Several mixes were available, spread over two 12' editions, but unlike the usual monotony of endless remixes, each interpretation was refreshingly different. Gillespie saw it as "a modern-day 'Street Fighting Man'", although it probably owed more to Sly Stone's funk-rock classic, "I Want To Take You Higher".

If so, June '91's "Higher Than The Sun" picked up where Sly's rallying cry at the 1969 Woodstock Festival left off. The involvement of the Orb's Alex Paterson and ex-PiL bassist Jah Wobble gave the single a dreamy, dub-like sensation - Primal Scream had got "Loaded", felt an overwhelming love of humanity on "Come Together" and now, it seemed, they were on the come down, and feeling wasted. Ensuing live dates introduced a couple more new arrivals, ex-Felt keyboardist Martin Duffy and soul singer Denise Johnson, who'd previously worked with ACR and sang on Creation act Hypnotone's first single. Extravagant live shows were even more diverse than before, with imaginative covers of Sly Stone's "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey", John Lennon's ode to heroin withdrawal, "Cold Turkey", and John Coltrane's beautiful "A Love Supreme".

It was Johnson who sang on the Primals' next single, the soulful "Don't Fight It, Feel It", described by Bobby as "something like Chairmen Of The Board with a Northern Soul feeling". With an astonishing about-face, 808 State's Graham Massey contradicted his group's previous scathing attack on Primal Scream by contributing a remix of the track. Perhaps he realised that the band were about to deliver 1991's finest album.

Issued in September, "Screamadelica" was the culmination of a year-and-a-halfs work. This melting pot of psychedelic ideas, dance beats and plaintive songs was scattered with Primal Scream's magpie-like adaptation of the past; "Inner Flight", for example, relied on a Beach Boys chord sequence. But the result was unerringly original.

"Movin' On Up" was the first nod towards the band's recent return to their '89 rock roots. The album's most traditional moment, its strong debt to the Stones was partly due to the involvement of veteran producer Jimmy Miller, who'd worked with Jagger and Co. on a string of classic late 6Oslearly 70s albums.

The song was then chosen to lead off January 1992's "Dixie-Narco" EP, short for 'Dixieland Narcotics', which says much for the rest of the EP. The soporific atmosphere of "Stone My Soul" and a cover of Dennis Wilson's tragic "Carry Me Home" were taped at Ardent Studios in Memphis, where Big Star and dozens of soul legends had recorded. Somehow, the presence on the EP flip of the ten-minute 'disco mantra', named "Screamadelica" perhaps because it condensed the ideas of the album into one track, sounded odd. When the Primals had left for the States, they left the rave scene behind - and it showed.

When Bobby Gillespie was impersonating Mick Jagger, singing "Movin' On Up" on 'Top Of The Pops', it was the last we'd see or hear of Primal Scream for two years, aside from a memorable pitstop at Glastonbury Festival in the summer.

"I think it's time to stop saying 'This is a dance record' and 'This is a rock record'. It's like saying all black music is soul."
(Bobby Gillespie, 1990)

Recorded at locations as diverse as Los Angeles, Chalk Farm in London, and Memphis (at Ardent again), Primal Scream's latest album, "Give Out But Don't Give Up", reveals a band who've soaked up the spirit (in more ways than one) of American rock'n'roll. The list of credentials is impressive: veteran Atlantic producer Tom Dowd (who continues the Mayo Thompson/Jimmy Miller pedigree), Jim Dickinson, and the legendary Southern Soul ingredients of the Muscle Shoals rhythm section and the Memphis Horns. George Clinton even steps into the remixer 5 chair, turning "Funky Jam" into a latterday reinvention of the Stone Roses' "Fool's Gold".

Maybe this is Primal Scream's "Get Back", or even "Rattle & Hum"? Whatever your interpretation, though, "Give Out..." deserves more than the lazy accusations it has so far attracted. Primal Scream have already been responsible for one of the greatest, most imaginative albums of the decade; only time will tell if they've delivered two.

Thanks to Brian Hogg, Alan McGee, Tim Eames, Dave Wilson, Joe Foster, Andy & Matthew at Creation and Tim Tooher.

Originally appeared in Record Collector May 1994.
Copyright © Record Collector

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