Primal Scream – Screamadelica (1991)
Primal Scream’s breakthrough album, “Screamadelica” was their third, but their first to embrace the house music culture of the time, breaking away from their previous indie direction. Since it was released, it has always been regarded as a classic and, as such, when I saw it at a low price, I decided that it probably wouldn’t be too much of a gamble. Quite honestly, it was everything I expected it to be. There are three really huge songs on here, the brilliant, classic “Movin’ On Up”, a massive hit in the USA, which sounds very much like a loved-up, baggy Rolling Stones, the hypnotic “Come Together” (featuring a sample of civil rights activist Jesse Jackson and also not a cover of The Beatles’ song, for those not in the know) and “Loaded”, which contains a sample of Peter Fonda from “The Wild Angels” (“Just what is it that you want to do?” “We wanna be free! We wanna be free to do what we wanna do… and we wanna get loaded!”). “Higher Than The Sun” and “Don’t Fight It, Feel It” were also singles taken from the album, so there are plenty of choice cuts here, even if they don’t have the star quality of the big tunes.
There’s no denying that, at the time, this album was hugely successful and popular but, now over twenty years have elapsed, much of the album now sounds a little dated and can sometimes, certainly to a sober mind, be a little dull in places. It’s still very good, though. I can’t say that I dislike any of it, it just sounds exactly like what it is: an early nineties album with lots of Madchester influences. It ticks all of the cool boxes – there are repetitive musical themes which continue to build as the song progresses, loose beats, snippets of speeches and dialogue from films, even a “come down” track (the rather good “Inner Flight”). It is likeable, creative dance music with indie credentials, but it is difficult to avoid the images that cross your mind of the kind of fashion and culture prevalent at the time. Much of the listening experience is an exercise in nostalgia, but it is also very easy to thoroughly appreciate and enjoy the creativity and chilled out vibe running through it.
So, is it a classic? I suppose it is, in its own niche. I don’t believe that it is one of the greatest albums ever made, or even that it is uniformly excellent, but that may simply be a question of taste as ‘dance’ music has never really been my thing, even when it is presented in this cross-over form. However, even if this isn’t exactly my favourite genre, “Screamadelica” remains one of the biggest and most important releases of that era and the material on this album more than justifies the reputation.