Primal Scream formed in 1982 and while now a household name, initially struggled to capture this level of success with their first few releases earning middling reviews and lacking in commercial success. Bobby Gillespie and Andrew Innes had until the early 90s struggled to make the band work, lost for direction.
The release of their third album 1991’s 'Screamadelica' changed the trajectory for the group entirely, catapaulting them into the charts and earning rave reviews across the board. The landmark album which fused the club music of the late 80s and early 90s with swaggering rock n roll and glimpses of blues and soul, celebrates its 30th anniversary and still sounds as fresh and urgent as ever. The record went on to win deservedly win the debut Mercury Prize in 1992.
'Screamadelica' remains a staple of its era perfectly encapsulating a period in time where rock and club music could coexist in harmony. While New Order had melded the two styles on tracks like 'Blue Monday', 'Screamadelica' paved the way forward, acting in conjunction with acts like The Stone Roses - who used DJs as support acts - and the house-infused grooves of the Happy Mondays.
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There had been glimpses at what was to come on the album in the shape of the singles that preceded it, of course spearheaded by the now iconic 'Loaded'. The late great Andrew Weatherall fused the opening Peter Fonda sample and mashed together 'I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have' from the previous Primal Scream album with a range of samples; the result is legendary and set the tone for the progressive offbeat nature of the album. The single came in a full 18 months before the eventual album’s release ensuring there was a public appetite for the LP. Weatherall’s fingerprints can be found throughout the album and played a large part in it reaching the status it has in the three decades following its release.
Weatherall helped make the album version of 'Come Together' into the 10 minute colossus it eventually mutated into, a far cry from the drastically shorter single versions that had charted in the UK top 40. Weatherall removed Gilliespie’s vocals and incorporated elements of house and dub music, making it a standout on an album full of memorable tracks.
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While 'Loaded' had helped Primal Scream crack the top 20 in the UK, on the other side of the Atlantic the upbeat 'Movin On Up' proved a success on Alternative radio and peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart showcasing the albums appeal both for UK and US audiences. The fact these two singles that in many ways sound like two separate groups proved successful is indicative of the albums range of styles and while it is notable of course for the way it was able to incorporate dance and club music, there are clear influences from funk, blues and soul making it one of the groups most eclectic albums.
As an album it is hard to believe that it flows so well jumping between different styles, each marrying the next perfectly. 'Slip Inside This House' - itself a cover of cult 60s acid-punk outfit the 13th Floor Elevators - remained rooted dance groove, following perfectly on from the piano-driven beat of 'Movin On Up'. If that seems a masterstroke, then the group's segue into 'Damaged' is the perfect comedown after' Loaded' and has drawn comparisons to 'Exile On Main Street' era Rolling Stones with its acoustic more stripped back sound.
While subsequent Primal Scream albums like 'Vanishing Point' and 'XTRMNTR' have also earned positive reviews, few would argue that 'Screamadelica' remains the defining Primal Scream record compressing their breadth of influences and genres into one cohesive album constantly teetering on the verge of implosion but never quite falling apart. The whole album miraculously sounds both of its era and contemporary; a clear influence on many other indie and alternative acts of the time, the LP remains unmatched.
With Primal Scream touring the album in full next year the album still holds a clear place in fans hearts and will continue to resonate for years to come. It’s hard to resist the grooves of 'Loaded' or 'Don’t Fight It, Feel It'.
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'Screamdelica' 12 inch singles box set is out now. 'Demodelica' is out on October 15th. Catch Primal Scream playing the album in full next summer.
Words: Christopher Connor