I promised HRH we could listen to something special when we got home from the gym this evening. Kelly is at work, so I opted to play her one of my favorite Desert Island albums of all time while (LOUD! of course) – hopefully, securing me some serious “Cool Step-Dad” points in the process – the incredible ‘Screamadelica‘ album by Primal Scream.
I adored this album back when it was released in 1991. In fact, this was the quintessential party album “back in the day” and I’ve likely done more drugs to this album in university than any other.
How I can even remember any of it is a miracle in an of itself, believe me, crazy times that they were.
There’s no overestimating the importance of ‘Screamadelica‘, the record that brought acid house, techno, and rave culture crashing into the British mainstream – an impact that rivaled that of Nirvana‘s ‘Nevermind‘, the other 1991 release that changed rock. Prior to this album, Primal Scream were Stonesy classic rock revivalists with a penchant for Detroit rock. They retained those fascinations on ‘Screamadelica‘ – one listen to the Jimmy Miller-produced, Stephen Stills-rip ‘Movin’ on Up‘ proves that – but they burst everything wide open here, turning rock inside out by marrying it to a gleeful rainbow of modern dance textures.
There is just so much shit goin’ on on this album. ‘Slip Inside this House‘ is actually version of a 1967 song by the 13th Floor Elevators, ‘Inner Flight‘ samples the closing sound on Brian Eno‘s ‘The Great Pretender‘ from the album ‘Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)’, the drums from Dr. John‘s ‘Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya‘ from the album ‘Gris-Gris’, and a brief vocal phrase from Alan Lomax’s ‘Whoa Buck’, and ‘Don’t Fight It, Feel It‘, in the Italo house style, with vocals by Denise Johnson and a refrain “I’m gonna live the life I love, gonna love the life I live” lifted from the Holland–Dozier–Holland song ‘(I’m a) Road Runner‘, which in turn echoes the title of a Willie Dixon composition most famously recorded by Muddy Waters.
There was just so much going on that my poor drug-addled brain could barely absorb it all at the time.
It barely can now.
This is such a brilliant, gutsy innovative record, so unlike anything the Scream did before, that it’s little wonder that there’s been much debate behind who is actually responsible for its grooves, especially since Andrew Weatherall is credited with production with eight of the tracks, and it’s clearly in line with his work. Even if da Scream took credit for Weatherall’s endeavors, that doesn’t erase the fact that they shepherded this album, providing the ideas and impetus for this dubtastic, elastic, psychedelic exercise in deep house and neo-psychedelic. Like any dance music, this is tied to its era to a certain extent, but it transcends it due to its fierce imagination and how it doubles back on rock history, making the past present and vice versa. It was such a monumental step forward that Primal Scream stumbled before regaining their footing, but by that point, the innovations of ‘Screamadelica‘ had been absorbed by everyone from the underground to mainstream. There’s little chance that this record will be as revolutionary to first-time listeners, but after its initial spin, the genius in its construction will become apparent – and it’s that attention to detail that makes this album one that transcends its time and influence.
So needless to say that I love it, but what did HRH think?
Well, thankfully, she loved it to – assuming her dancing around in a tripped-out fashion which I can only assume is her take on “hippie dancing”, as she’s been known to call it. She also adored the pretty orange, red and yellow technicolor records themselves as well and, I won’t lie – they are pretty sweet.
I mean, “really, what’s not to love?” is exactly how she put it.
I couldn’t agree more.