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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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A brief history of 90s Britpop as told through the covers of ‘Select’ magazine

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Selective memory can be a marvellous thing. It ensures we are never wrong, always right and (best of all) that we have always had such impeccable taste in music.

In Britain there were a lot of drugs about in the nineties—a lot of bad drugs—which might explain why so many of us—who lived through that heady decade—only recall the really good stuff rather than all that crap we apparently really enjoyedMr Blobby? Babylon Zoo? Rednex? Will Smith?—well, somebody bought this shit, how else did it all get to #1?

Personally, I have no recollection (officer) as to how all these records charted, but I can certainly give you a brief illustrated history of what we were actually listening to and what we all supposedly liked.

Exhibit #1: Select magazine

Select was arguably the magazine of the 1990s—the one that best represented (or at least covered) what happened during that decade—well, if you lived in the UK that is. Select had attitude, swagger and wit and was very, very opinionated. It didn’t tug its forelock or swoon before too many stars—though it certainly had its favorites.

Select kicked off in July 1990 with his purple highness Prince on the cover. It was a statement of the kind of magazine they were going to be—cool, sophisticated, sexy, sharp. Prince was good—everybody loves Prince. It didn’t last long. Over the next few months, the magazine struggled to find a musical movement it could wholeheartedly endorse. In its search for the next big thing—even The Beatles (rather surprisingly) featured on its cover.

Select threw its weight behind such bands as Happy Mondays, Primal Scream, Blur and most significantly Suede—who never quite managed the level of success the magazine hoped for. Then Select did something remarkable—rather than follow the trend the magazine decided to shape it.

In April 1993, Select published an article by journalist Stuart Maconie entitled “Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mr. Cobain?” In it Maconie made a very convincing case for abandoning the influence of American music (grunge) and taking up with the “crimplene, glamour, wit, and irony” of local British talent.

Maconie offered up a list of bands he thought would make it big—Suede, Saint Etienne, Denim, The Auteurs and Pulp—lumping them together under the title “Britpop.” Within a year—the idea of one journalist had become a movement of disparate bands, genres and styles—from Oasis to Blur, Elastica to Pulp, Sleeper to The Verve.

Maconie’s idea gave Select their drum—one they were going to bang until everyone was deaf or the thrill had gone.

Select lasted for just over a decade 1990-2001. Its final cover featured Coldplay—which might explain where Britpop had gone wrong. Some kind soul has scanned all of the back issues—inside and out—and a trawl through their covers tells the story of what was in, what was hip, and what was “going on.”

If you’ve a hankering for the past or just want to relive the heady days of the 1990s, then check here to read, view and enjoy the whole archive of Select magazine.
 
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Prince on the very first cover of ‘Select’ July 1990.
 
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Something old, something new… a taste of what’s to come…
 
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Something very old: The Beatles—but a hint of what this magazine hoped to find in the 1990s…Britpop. November 1990.
 
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You get the feeling this bloke’s gonna feature a lot in this magazine…Happy Mondays’ Shaun Ryder, January 1991.
 
More Select covers for selective memories, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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03.24.2016
01:01 pm
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Members of Curve and Primal Scream talk My Bloody Valentine’s ‘You Made Me Realise’


 
One upside of being “a certain age” is that some of the concerts you went to as a matter of course seem impossibly cool in hindsight, and for me, one of those was My Bloody Valentine on the Loveless tour. I doubt I have to tell anyone who bothered to click on this how amazing the show was, and I almost didn’t go! It was a fairly expensive ticket and I was a flat broke 20-year-old, but a friend with a little flow to spare—in a move that would mark her for sainthood in whatever religion I would be in if I was in one—bought me a ticket, just because she thought it was something I should see. (In kind, I would years later take her to see Kraftwerk in Chicago on her birthday, and I’m not sure that I don’t still owe her.) MBV was exactly everything I wanted in music at the time—a noisy guitar offensive totally outside the dead-to-me hardcore milieu, but otherworldly, pretty, dense, loud, perfect.
 

 
A much-discussed feature of their shows at the time—and I understand still, though I haven’t partaken in a reunion show—was the insane noise break (often referred to as “the holocaust”) in the middle of the song “You Made Me Realise.” On the EP of the same title, the song stops cold in the middle and turns into a vortex of white noise. In concert, that sonic hurricane was intensified to painful levels. At peak volume, and with blaring lights aimed at the crowd, MBV stretched that noise break out for 15 caustic, head-melting minutes or longer. Trendy kids who weren’t prepared for such meat-and-potatoes hatenoise (they’d all go on to buy Spooky by Lush and be ultra psyched about it) made for the parking lot with dad’s car keys, but the faithful stuck it out. You couldn’t see anything but those lights. You couldn’t talk to your friends. You just took it. If you were attentive you started to notice all the over- and under-tones and implied rhythms that emerged from the huge, sick, beautiful racket they were making. Nuances asserted themselves in the punitively loud assault of guitar grit and cymbal-wash, and you might have been hallucinating some of them, but that blank wall of sound was rich, complex, and anything but blank. And then, after who even knew how long, without any cue discernable to the audience, on a goddamn dime the band dropped back into the song’s propulsive main riff. It remains to this day one of the most glorious things I’ve ever seen.

The recently released documentary Beautiful Noise by Eric Green and Sarah Ogletree focuses closely on the origins and impact of the scene that MBV galvanized (and amusingly, the press release does a fine job of teasing the film without once ever using the words “shoe” or “gaze”). A recently-released clip from the film features Toni Halliday of Curve, Bobby Gillespie of The Jesus and Mary Chain/Primal Scream, and MBV drummer Colm Ó Cíosóig talking about the “holocaust.” There’s some wonderful rare footage and photography. Billy Corgan also appears. You take the bad with the good.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch
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12.16.2014
09:19 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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Upside Down: The Creation Records Story

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Upside Down: The Creation Records Story is a roller coaster of film, which tells the incredible tale of one of the most important independent record labels of the past fifty years - Creation Records

This excellent film reveals how the gallus Glaswegian Alan McGee started the label with a £1,000 bank loan in the 1980s, and went on shape music in the 1980s and 1990s, as he made Creation home to such talents as The Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream, Medicine, The Pastels, Teenage Fanclub, BMX Bandits, Super Furry Animals, The Boo Radleys, Saint Etienne, Momus, My Bloody Valentine, 3 Colours Red and Oasis - who were signed for £40,000.

McGee originally thought Liam Gallagher was the band’s drug dealer, as he told the Sun:

“I was up in Glasgow seeing my dad and I wasn’t sure I’d even go to the gig. I got there early by mistake. Oasis were on first, before most people arrived. There was this amazing young version of Paul Weller sat there in a light blue Adidas tracksuit. I assumed he was the drug dealer and that Bonehead, the guitarist, was the singer.

“It was only when they went on stage I realised it was the lead singer Liam Gallagher. I knew I had to sign them.

“Noel and I talked after the show and just said ‘done’ and he turned out to be a man of his word.

“I was lucky to be there. We didn’t send out scouts. Most of my signings were because I happened to see new bands. That couldn’t happen any more. If a new band as much as farts it’s all over the internet.”

Upside Down: The Creation Records Story brilliantly captures the creativity that came out of the chaos of the legendary McGee’s drug-fueled reign as President of Pop.

“I was on one continuous bender from 1987 until 1994. Until Oasis came along the Creation staff were more rock and roll than the bands we signed. Then Oasis came along and things got even crazier.

“I was permanently off my head on cocaine, ecstasy, acid and speed. We’d be awake for three days.

“We went one further than having dealers hanging around. We just employed them instead.

“But they were different times. If you behaved now like we used to people would phone the police.”

Upside Down: The Creation Records Story is now available on DVD, with a short cinema release, details here.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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05.03.2011
07:43 pm
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Wallace Wylie’s ‘Death Rattle: The Travesty of British Alternative Rock in the 90s’
03.24.2011
09:20 am
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Consider this the perfect accompaniment to “Whatever Happened To Alternative Nation?” This excellent article, by writer Wallace Wylie and published on Everett True’s Collapse Board, centers around three bands (The Stone Roses, Primal Scream and Oasis) and the negative impact they had on the British music industry and general media in the 1990s. In contrast to Steven Hyden’s US-focused articles, Wylie sticks striclty to the UK and does a really great job of skewering that shower of shitty hype we had to endure called “Britpop.” This represents my feelings about the period pretty much exactly—yes, there was LOADS of great and interesting music being made at the time, but for the most part it was not being made by white men with guitars.

It should be obvious to almost everyone by now that Oasis really weren’t very good, and this is coming from somebody who bought into the hype early and even attended their monster concert at Knebworth. Definitely Maybe remains their best release, with the album coming across as rather varied (by Oasis standards) and tuneful. This was before Noel settled in to writing all his songs in the same Let It Be-derived tempo. It isn’t really necessary to go into detail as to why Oasis were substandard. This has been done elsewhere and will continue to be done for a good while yet. Their limited talents soon ran dry but not before they had kicked open the door to a million soundalikes who popped up every other week on the front cover of NME.

We were constantly being told by the press that we were living through a musical golden age to rival the Sixties (aaargh! why is always the fucking Sixites?! booo-ooring), and while I do think the 90s was a golden age of sorts, I am glad that hindsight is x-ray and cuts through all the bullshit. There were many, many groundbreaking things going on in the world, yet the British music press seemed content to just curl up into a little ball murmuring “Beatles, Stones, Beatles, Stones” ad nauseam. Remember, this is the era that saw the launch of backwards-obsessed magazines like Mojo and Uncut, and the calcification of rock culture into a rigid set of rules to be adhered to. It sucked. But hey, don’t take my word for it. Read what Wylie has to say…

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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03.24.2011
09:20 am
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Meet ManWoman: Artist, Poet, Swastika Visionary
09.29.2009
02:59 pm
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From his rural Canadian outpost, ManWoman, author of “The Gentle Swastika,” and a favorite artist of Dan Aykroyd, continues his quest to “detoxify” the dreaded Nazi symbol:

Born at the start of WWII to a Polish immigrant mother, whose sister and her baby were put in Auschwitz, “Manny” (his original name was Patrick) inherited all the ?

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
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09.29.2009
02:59 pm
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On/Off: Mark Stewart from The Pop Group to The Maffia

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If not tomorrow night in Los Angeles, here’s a documentary I still very much plan on catching.  From Cinefamily:

This one’s a must for all post-punk junkies!  The name of singer/industrial hip-hop pioneer Mark Stewart may not be instantly familiar, but his influence is felt the world over.  From his early days with confrontational post-punk pioneers The Pop Group to his myriad collaborations with acts like Trent Reznor, Massive Attack and Primal Scream, Stewart has provided ghostly beats and haunting vocals for over thirty years, and shows no signs of stopping.  German filmmaker T?ɬ?ni Schifer, who followed Stewart with a camera for three years, has crafted a detailed, intimate portrait of the artist, supplemented by interviews with Stewart himself, his Pop Group co-horts Dan Catsis, Gareth Sager and John Waddington, Keith Levine (P.I.L.), Janine Rainforth (Maximum Joy), Douglas Hart (The Jesus & Mary Chain), Fritz Catlin (23 Skidoo), Daniel Miller (Mute Records), Nick Cave, Mick Harvey, Massive Attack and many others, plus some terrific never-before-seen vintage performance footage.

Well, as post-punk authority Simon Reynolds says, reading an interview with The Pop Group was like “having your brain set on fire.”  And If that’s not enough enticement, here’s the trailer for ON/OFF:

 
More On Mark Stewart/On-U Sound

Director T?ɬ?ni Schifer on MySpace

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
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08.19.2009
03:40 pm
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