Primal Scream - Screamadelica, 1991, Creation
Movin’ On Up
Slip Inside This House
Don’t Fight it, Feel it
Higher Than the Sun
I’m Comin’ Down
Higher Than the Sun (A Dub Symphony in Two Parts)
Shine Like Stars
Originally formed in Glasgow in 1982 after front man Bobby Gillespie left The Jesus and Mary Chain (where he was the drummer). Primal Scream were primarily an indie rock band but were heavily influenced by acid house and the rave music scene of the early 1990s in the creation of this album. After limited success with their previous releases, Screamadelica represented a major change in direction. It reached number 8 in the album chart and, along with winning a number of other awards, won the inaugural Mercury Music Prize in 1992.
Movin’ On Up is all tambourine and gospel choir with a hot guitar solo in the middle, produced by Jimmy Miller who had worked with the Rolling Stones from 1968-73, it’s very much a rock track. If that lulled you into a false sense of security though, the next two tracks are full on dance numbers where the house influence takes over the rock influence completely. Higher Than the Sun is one of the better tracks, it’s got a very ethereal sound which feels like more of a soundscape than a song with the mix of instruments and a vocal that seems to be drifting along on the air. It’s a great mix of the rock and the dance sound. This one was produced by The Orb and their influence on it is clear. Come Together fuses piano and a more traditionally gospel sound with the dance sound, I’m hesitant to use the word euphoric for it, but if you’ve taken enough MDMA, that’s probably what it would make you feel. Lead single Loaded is where the style fusion is at its most perfect. There are parts of it where you could be listening to the Stones and parts taken right from a club but it works brilliantly, despite its slightly indulgent 7 minute duration. Releasing this as the first single was a masterstroke as it’s such an obvious gateway track to the more genre-pushing parts of the album. Standard ballad Damaged almost seems disappointing in comparison. I’m Comin’ Down feels exactly like the title suggests it should and the gentle saxophone seems to envelope you in a hug as you slowly move out of your substance induced haze. Shine Like Stars closes the record in the same way, gentle and slow.
While it definitely has highs and lows and is very different to anything else they had done (this is true both before and since), Screamadelica works as a feast for the senses that pushes the boundaries of what a rock band ought to be. Interestingly it was released in the same week as the seminal album of 1991, Nirvana’s Nevermind and it was truly like nothing else in the chart - even the Madchester bands.
Despite the success of this album, the band moved back into more familiar rock territory for their subsequent albums but were still a major influence on dance acts like Daft Punk and DJs like Fatboy Slim. The album’s importance to British popular culture is also shown in it’s inclusion in the Royal Mail’s 2010 Classic Album Covers stamp collection.