Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Primal Scream is a rock band from Scotland and headed by former Jesus & Mary Chain drummer Bobby Gillespie. Other members include guitarists Andrew Innes and Robert 'Throb' Young , former Felt keyboardist Martin Duffy , former Stone Roses bassist Gary 'Mani' Mounfield, and touring guitarist and producer Kevin Shields, formerly of My Bloody Valentine. The band was signed to Alan McGee's Creation label.
The band has been through several lineups and musical styles with Gillespie being the only constant element. Initially a psychedelic rock group with a formless loud guitar based sound influenced by the primal scream therapy theory (which also gave the band their name). The music was meant to be somewhat instinctual and primal in nature.
Debut album Sonic Flower Groove was heavily influenced by The Byrds, The Velvet Underground and the C86 shoegazing scene (eg My Bloody Valentine, The Wedding Present etc) of which they were pioneers. The highlight of their early work is undoubtedly the "Crystal Crescent" B-side "Velocity Girl" which was effectively the melodic template for most indie music for the next decade, The Stone Roses' "Made Of Stone" and their debut album in particular are indebted to its sound as are a host of others.
The following self-titled album had a much heavier edge influenced by MC5, Iggy Pop and The Stooges and the sixties Detroit garage scene. Due to their dramatic change in sound the band risked alienating their initial fanbase and the album was criticised in the music press. Founder member Jim Beattie left to form Spirea X , continuing that early psychedelic sound, the central trio of Bobby Gillespie, Andrew Innes and Rob Young (augmented by drummer Philip "Toby" Tomanov and bassist Henry Olsen of Nico's band The Faction) relocated to Brighton and ditched their trademark jangly sound for good. Today "Primal Scream" remains a curiously underrated album and several critics have voiced the opinion that a critical reassessment is overdue particularly given its relatively contemporary style.
Standout track "I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have" was remixed by Dance DJ Andrew Weatherall (Sabres of Paradise /Two Lone Swordsmen ). Employing methods of deconstructing and layering grooves normally found in the Jamacian dub music of King Tubby and The Scientist. "Loaded" took the piano motif (provided by new recruit, former member of Felt, Martin Duffy), the horn section and bassline from the climax of "I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have," added a drum loop from an Italian bootleg mix of Edie Brickell's "What I Am", a sample of Gillespie singing a line from Robert Johnson's "Terraplane Blues" and the central introductory sample from the Peter Fonda B-movie The Wild Angels . The track was a phenomenal critical success, played everywhere from Ibiza to Glasgow and, along with The Stone Rose's "Fool's Gold" and The Happy Mondays' "Step On," marks the point where white indie music got funky.
"Loaded" was followed by "Come Together" - a remarkable psychedelic gospel track sampling Nastassja Kinski from Wim Wender's 'Paris, Texas' and the guitar riff from Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds." The original track was backed by a Terry Farley produced version with added beats and an instrumental mix by Weatherall containing a sample of the Reverend Jesse Jackson ("You will hear gospel and rhythm and blues and jazz, all those are just labels, we know that music is music") which became another dance classic and highpoint of the Ibiza scene. This remix has since become the most well-known version of the track and failing to put the definitive original version on any album has (as with "Velocity Girl") damned what may be the group's finest moment to obscurity.
Screamadelica was blending rock with dance music. Give Out But Don't Give Up, recorded in Nashville, was another radical departure. More of an out and out rock and roll record, critics compared it in style and sound to the early Rolling Stones.
More line up changes added Mani and Kevin Shields to the group. Shields brought a great deal of producing talent and a third guitarist to the live band. Mani was the key addition though. Starting with the Vanishing Point album (influenced by the film of the same name) a new complex dance/dub rhythm was present in most of the tracks harking back to the crossover success of Screamadelica.
Vanishing Point revitalised the band and introduced a far more complex musical dynamic that has so far have produced increasingly complex yet accessible albums in the form of XTRMNTR and Evil Heat in a surprisingly short period of time. The consistent lineup has also allowed the band to coalesce as a live act not only reproducing their studio albums live but also able to recreate the band's entire back catalogue.
Discography (UK chart positions)
- Sonic Flower Groove (1987)
- Primal Scream (1989)
- Screamadelica (1991); #8
- Give Out But Don't Give Up (1994, featuring George Clinton); #2
- Vanishing Point (1997); #2
- Echo Dek (1997)
- XTRMNTR (2000); #3
- Evil Heat (2002); #9
- Dirty Hits (2003) ("Greatest Hits" compilation); #25
UK hit singles
- 1990 "Loaded" #16
- 1990 "Come Together" #26
- 1991 "Higher Than the Sun" #40
- 1992 "Dixie-Narco EP/Movin' on Up" #11
- 1994 "Rocks/Funky Jam" #7
- 1994 "Jailbird" #29
- 1996 "The Big Man and the Scream Team Meet the Barmy Army Uptown" (with Irvine Welsh and On-U Sound) #17
- 1997 "Kowalski" #8
- 1997 "Star" #16
- 1997 "Burning Wheel" #17
- 1999 "Swastika Eyes" #22
- 2000 "Kill All Hippies" #24
- 2000 "Accelerator" #34
- 2002 "Miss Lucifer" #25
Did not have any US Top 40 hits.
- official website XTRMNTR era
- official website Present era
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