Primal Scream – Screamadelica

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The short version of the review is that Primal Scream is the best example of a band who made it big because they were there at the right time. Here we have a band that flat out sucked at every genre in comparison to people who could actually play those genres (go spin the Rolling Stones if you want rock, 808 State if you want early house and the Orb or KLF if you want ambient house). But because on Screamadelica, they put all these genres in one package at a time where listenership was growing more and more divided by the rise of electronic (and hip-hop) (and mainstream pop), it was hailed as an instant classic. The effects of ecstasy are indeed troubling since New Order had been doing that for an entire decade.

The long version of the review is though Screamadelica ranks high in their hilariously prolific discography, it ain’t their best album. In fact, most of the best moments on Screamadelica aren’t exactly Primal Scream’s to claim: “Movin’ On Up” is any Rolling Stones song with an acoustic guitar, electric guitar, gospel choir and piano with lyrics from Can’s “Yoo Doo Right” thrown on top; “Damaged” is any Rolling Stones ballad without the feigned emotion (at least Mick Jagger tried, y’know?); “Come Together” is basically the KLF’s “Wichita Lineman Was A Song I Once Heard” with gospel choirs instead of a beautiful synth line but this one takes twice as long to be suckier overall.

And “Loaded” – the best song here – is best known for its opening sample, which is also the best stretch the album offers – yeah, you read that right, the best stretch the album has to offer is a sampled speech from a movie. When I saw The World’s End, which let it be known, was a helluva lot better than This Is The End as well as being the best of the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy (love how Nick Frost doesn’t play the stereotypical larger character as he does on Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz), I almost shat my pants when Simon Pegg said the same speech, and I whispered it proudly along with him. It’s that great of a speech, and since our generation is supposed to be even more decadent than the ones before, it’s even more relevant today than it was in 1991.

Other stuff to note: closer “Shine Like Stars” sounds exactly like it’s title, and if I didn’t know better, I would’ve assumed Nigel Godrich was responsible for its production. The ten second stretch from 1:32 to 1:42 on “Movin’ On Up” is easily the album’s riskiest, where the gospel choir launches up an interval on the second instance despite not needing to. And I quite like “Higher Than the Sun”; the moment when Bobby Gillepsie quietly intones the title’s words at the 1:42 mark is easily his shining moment an entire album full of quiet intonations, and the heavy drum outro starting at the 2:48 sounds like it’ll inspire Massive Attack to sample “When the Levee Breaks” and toss it in a heavy bath of reverb to make the big drums even bigger on Mezzanine’s “Man Next Door.”

That being said, the electric guitar solo in “Movin’ On Up” (starting at 1:44 mark) and the “solo?” (I honestly have no idea what to call it; the guy just mercilessly slams a single chord) in “Loaded” (starting at the 3:44 mark) are some of the most intrusive solos I’ve ever heard; obnoxiously loud without saying much at all. Though there’s definitely good stuff happening in other songs – the pretty textures (including piano, sitar and bass) on 13th Floor Elevators’ cover “Slip Inside This House,” the melody in instrumental “Inner Flight” which might be the album’s most direct, the saxophone that carries “I’m Comin’ Down” – Screamadelica being released in the 90s, a band who could fill a vinyl’s worth of good material is forced to take full advantage of the invention of the CD, stretching decent songs (every song except tracks 1, 4 and 11, all of which I gave a shoutout to in the above paragraph) into unbearable lengths. And then, because 50 minutes isn’t long enough, they throw in a 7-minute remix because why not (“Higher Than the Sun (A Dub Symphony In Two Parts)” is only useful for the bass in the second part).

The most overrated record of 1991; never mind Nevermind. Cool album cover that has probably been transposed onto a cool t-shirt that you should only wear in bed.

B+

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2 responses to “Primal Scream – Screamadelica

  1. Pingback: The Orb – The Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld | Free City Sounds·

  2. Pingback: R.E.M. – Up | Free City Sounds·

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