Primal Scream

From Academic Kids

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Primal Scream is a rock band from Scotland, headed by former Jesus & Mary Chain drummer Bobby Gillespie. Other members include guitarists Andrew Innes and Robert 'Throbert' Young, former Felt keyboardist Martin Duffy, former Stone Roses bassist Gary 'Mani' Mounfield, and touring guitarist and producer Kevin Shields, formerly of My Bloody Valentine. The band was signed to Alan McGee's Creation label until its closure in 2000; they are now signed to Sony/Columbia.

Primal Scream has been through several lineups and musical styles, with Gillespie being the only constant element. The band began as a psychedelic rock group, with a formless, loud, guitar-based sound influenced by the primal scream therapy theory (which also gave the band its name). The music was intended to be somewhat instinctual and primal in nature.

The band's debut album, Sonic Flower Groove, was heavily influenced by The Byrds, The Velvet Underground and the C86 shoegazing scene (My Bloody Valentine, The Wedding Present etc.) of which they were pioneers. The highlight of their early work is undoubtedly the "Crystal Crescent" B-side "Velocity Girl" which was effectively the melodic template for most indie music for the next decade; The Stone Roses' "Made Of Stone" and their debut album in particular are indebted to its sound, as are a host of others.

The following, self-titled album had a much heavier edge, influenced by MC5, Iggy Pop and The Stooges and the 1960s Detroit garage scene. The band's dramatic change in sound risked alienating their initial fanbase, and the album was criticised negatively in the music press. Founder member Jim Beattie left to form Spirea X, continuing the early psychedelic sound, while the central trio of Bobby Gillespie, Andrew Innes and Rob Young (augmented by drummer Philip "Toby" Tomanov and bassist Henry Olsen of Nico's band The Faction) relocated to Brighton and ditched their trademark "jangly" sound for good. Primal Scream remains a curiously underrated album and several critics have opined that a critical reassessment is overdue, particularly given its relatively contemporary style.

However it was with their next album, Screamadelica, that the band really started to make an impact. The standout track from the previous album, "I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have", was remixed by Dance DJ Andrew Weatherall (Sabres of Paradise/Two Lone Swordsmen), employing methods of deconstructing and layering grooves normally found in the Jamacian dub music of King Tubby and The Scientist. The resulting track, "Loaded", took the piano motif (provided by new recruit, former member of Felt, Martin Duffy), the horn section and bassline from the climax of "I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have," added a drum loop from an Italian bootleg mix of Edie Brickell's "What I Am", a sample of Gillespie singing a line from Robert Johnson's "Terraplane Blues" and the central introductory sample from the Peter Fonda B-movie The Wild Angels. The track was a phenomenal critical success, played everywhere from Ibiza to Glasgow and, along with The Stone Rose's "Fool's Gold" and The Happy Mondays' "Step On", marks the point where white indie music "got funky".

"Loaded" was followed by "Come Together" - a remarkable psychedelic gospel track sampling Nastassja Kinski from Wim Wenders' Paris, Texas and the guitar riff from Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds". The original track was backed by a Terry Farley-produced version with added beats and an instrumental mix by Weatherall containing a sample of the Reverend Jesse Jackson ("You will hear gospel and rhythm and blues and jazz, all those are just labels, we know that music is music") which became another dance classic and highpoint of the Ibiza scene. This remix has since become the most well-known version of the track, and failing to put the definitive original version on any album has (as with "Velocity Girl") damned what may be the group's finest moment to obscurity.

Give Out But Don't Give Up, recorded in Nashville, was another radical departure. While Screamadelica had blended rock with dance music, this album was closer to a pure rock and roll record; critics compared it in style and sound to the early Rolling Stones.

More line up changes added Mani and Kevin Shields to the group. Shields brought a great deal of producing talent and a third guitarist to the live band. Mani was the key addition, though. Starting with the Vanishing Point album (influenced by the film of the same name), a complex dance/dub rhythm was present in most of the tracks, harking back to the crossover success of Screamadelica, yet sounding significantly darker and more sinister. Some see this as Primal Scream's reaction to the money-driven perversion and eventual death of the Madchester scene: though Primal Scream were not from Manchester, they were seen as part of a stylistic brethren with bands who were.

Vanishing Point revitalised the band and introduced a far more complex musical dynamic. They have since produced increasingly complex yet accessible albums in the form of XTRMNTR and Evil Heat, both within a surprisingly short period of time. The band's newly consistent lineup has also allowed it to coalesce as a live act, not only reproducing their studio albums live but also able to recreate the band's entire back catalogue.

Album Discography (UK chart positions)

UK hit singles

  • 1990 "Loaded" #16
  • 1990 "Come Together" #26
  • 1991 "Higher Than the Sun" #40
  • 1992 "Dixie-Narco EP/Movin' on Up" #11
  • 1994 "Rocks/Funky Jam" #7
  • 1994 "Jailbird" #29
  • 1996 "The Big Man and the Scream Team Meet the Barmy Army Uptown" (with Irvine Welsh and On-U Sound) #17
  • 1997 "Kowalski" #8
  • 1997 "Star" #16
  • 1997 "Burning Wheel" #17
  • 1999 "Swastika Eyes" #22
  • 2000 "Kill All Hippies" #24
  • 2000 "Accelerator" #34
  • 2002 "Miss Lucifer" #25

No US Top 40 hits.

External link

de:Primal Scream


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