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A young Primal Scream before ‘Screamadelica’: Live in London 1987

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One small but hugely significant turning point in the long career of Primal Scream came when Alan McGee gave Bobby Gillespie an ecstasy tablet at a Happy Mondays gig in 1989. McGee was the visionary top dog at Creation Records. Gillespie the Primal’s lead singer. The pair had known each other since school.

By 1989, the Primals had been together for seven years and had released two moderately successful albums. Their debut Sonic Flower Groove had a slightly fey upbeat jingly-jangly sound which some music critics unfavorably compared to Arthur Lee’s Love and the Byrds. Today, Sonic Flower Groove is considered a “retro masterpiece,” but at the time it was out of sync with the infectious drug-fueled club and rave culture that was changing the beat.

The Primals’ self-titled second album sounded as if the band had woken up one day and decided to be the Rolling Stones. It’s a good album with some key songs—in particular “I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have” which was later remixed by Andy Weatherall to become the generation-defining track “Loaded” on Screamadelica. At the time of its release, one wag of a rock critic claimed Primal Scream was the album when one could hear the band’s “testicles drop catastrophically.”

Despite the albums’ high points and their current critical reassessment, both records were like cool young kids trying on the grown-ups clothes to see what would fit and what matched their style.
 
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For Gillespie, the band’s music had to be rock ‘n’ roll like Johnny Thunders or Link Wray, but this was at odds with the music being produced under the influence of ecstasy.

Alan McGee had seen the light. He also believed in Bobby and Primal Scream. But he thought that maybe if they necked a few “eccies” then they might get into the groove too.

At the Happy Mondays’ Hacienda gig in 1989, McGee had three ecstasy tablets. He took one and gave the second to Gillespie, who managed to drop it on the floor. McGee then (probably reluctantly) gave Gillespie his last pill. But it was well worth it.

“Gillespie got it,” McGee later said. “By about June, [he thought] he’d invented acid house!”

Everything changed after that.

Watch Primal Scream in concert from 1987, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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05.03.2017
11:13 am
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The snottiest, snoggiest Jesus and Mary Chain interview ever, 1986
10.01.2013
11:29 am
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I’m of the opinion that The Jesus and Mary Chain created some of the most beautiful, lulling, sometimes jarring sounds in all of rock ‘n’ roll. But they also gave some of the sourest, most testy interviews of the MTV generation. They were famous for deflecting questions, contradicting interviewers, and refusing to acknowledge any peers or comparable groups. They also lacked no ego when asserting the value and innovation of their own work, describing themselves as one of the few good bands at an overwhelmingly unimpressive moment in music history. Perhaps true, but still, guys!

But I found the best one. I found the best Jesus and Mary Chain interview of all. It’s not because their carefully feigned trademark annoyance and boredom is at a fever pitch. It’s not because they undermine every band compared to them, including The Sex Pistols, who Jim Reid later credited with inspiring he and his brother to start a band. It’s not even because Reid is totally screwing with the interviewer, making snide comments on the band’s commercial ambitions to compete with Duran Duran and Culture Club.

No, this is the best/worst Jesus and Mary Chain interview ever, because in the middle of a question, apropos of nothing, then-drummer Bobby Gillespie just starts making out with an unidentified woman on the couch. It is never explained, announced, or acknowledged, but Gillespie just keeps on macking away. The poor cameraman attempts to focus on Reid, who does most of the talking, and appears oblivious, but after a while the close-up feels awkward, and the shot has to include Gillespie’s stunt. While I find the whole thing amusing, I hope everyone on set got a raise for going with the mighty weird flow here…
 

 

Posted by Amber Frost
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10.01.2013
11:29 am
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The Making of Primal Scream’s ‘Screamadelica’ album
06.27.2011
08:33 pm
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Primal Scream’s Screamadelica album was like an event when it arrived in 1991. Nirvana’s Nevermind, My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless and Massive Attack’s Blue Lines all came out that year, but my friends and I could not get enough of Screamadelica. Practically everybody I knew was deeply into that record, even the ones who weren’t druggies…

“Loaded,” “Come Together,” “Higher Than The Sun”—Screamadelica is an album meant to be listened to when you are as fucked up as possible. It’s one of the ultimate soundtracks for drug use. (“Higher Than The Sun” sounds particularly good after you’ve inhaled a lungful of nitrous oxide, but then again, almost anything sounds great when you’re high on nitrous).

I recall meeting band-leader Bobby Gillespie along with Creation Records head Alan McGee in New York City, the year it came out. I think it must have been for the New Music Seminar. I met them in the “Kenny Scharf Room” (basement) of the Palladium nightclub on 14th Street and although the conversation began well-enough as I complimented him on a record I just loved, Gillespie’s Scottish accent was very, very strong at the time and I couldn’t understand more than one word in ten. I lived in the UK for two years and normally have no problem with a Scottish accent, but with Gillespie, I had to admit defeat. From the sound of things in this new documentary, his accent has gotten a bit softer over the course of the last two decades. You won’t need subtitles, I don’t think.

Primal Scream’s seminal album Screamadelica was released in 1991, and synthesized the band’s rock ‘n’ roll roots with the dance culture of that time; for many, the album’s sound and imagery came to be regarded as quintessential symbols of the acid house era, perfectly catching the spirit and mood of the early 90s.

Using rare archive footage and special performances, this film tells the story of Screamadelica and its hit singles and dance anthems “Loaded,” “Movin’ On Up,” “Come Together” and “Don’t Fight It, Feel It.” From the formation of the band in Glasgow to winning the first-ever Mercury prize, the band members explain the record’s inception with insights from main producer Andrew Weatherall, Creation Records founder Alan McGee and many others involved with or inspired by this joyful record.

Screamadelica both defines a generation and transcends its time, and is a true Classic Album.

A new DVD, Screamadelica Live has just been released by Eagle Rock Entertainment.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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06.27.2011
08:33 pm
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