Here's something to shout about
Primal Scream are back in the capital for a live re-creation of one of the most seminal albums of all time, says Barry Egan
YOU can't beat a cracking apocryphal yarn. My personal favourite involved a New Musical Express journalist on assignment to interview Primal Scream in New York in the late-Eighties. He detailed a passionate discussion within the band that he'd watched unfold on the street one night after a sold-out show downtown. The dialogue went something like this:
"Let's get Vietnamese."
"What about Indian?"
The NME journo then helpfully threw in his own tuppence worth into the mix and suggested a burger. Primal Scream en masse turned to him to put him in the picture: "It's heroin we're discussing, not food."
In 2006, James Brown asked the band in an Observer interview was this story true. "Probably," chuckled Scream maverick Bobby Gillespie. "When we were touring Screamadelica we had to meet some record company VIPs. Just as we were sitting down to dinner with them the heroin arrived and we all went off to take it.
"When we got back it was so strong people were just collapsing face down into their food. This was not a good advert for Primal Scream. Certainly there was a lot of peer group pressure around Primal Scream... people with prodigious appetites, and that naturally makes for a very harrowing tale.
"You know, Andrew Innes [Scream guitarist] is a chemist and so's his wife -- they've got pharmaceutical degrees. He's an oddball boffin who'll experiment with anything you give him. When computers came out, he got one straight away and learnt how to work them. Oasis call him 'Brains'."
Primal Scream were calling the British Conservative Party lots of names that indicated anything but brains recently when a rumour went around -- even ending up in the newspapers -- to the effect that Home Secretary Theresa May ended her speech at the Conservative Party conference in October by walking off to Rocks by Primal Scream (as it turned it, it was by The Dandy Warhols). "The Tories are waging a war on the disenfranchised. They are the enemy," raged the official statement from the band.
You wouldn't expect anything less from Bobby Gillespie, of course. His father Robert was a leading left-wing trade unionist in Glasgow. The band is staunchly left wing too. So no big surprises at the venom there. Nor is it a big surprise that after more than 20 years, Bobby's natural-born rabble-rousers, as GQ dubbed them, are still making "real sick, sexy, crazy rock 'n' roll". And barring a natural disaster, the Scream doubtless always will. "We're a pure rock 'n' roll band," he says. "We're the real thing. It's in our blood. We don't think about it. It just drips from our fingers," says Bobby.
Luckily, all of us will be able to witness that magic dripping from their fingers up close on December 29 at the O2 Arena in Dublin, when the band recreates the 1991 tour-de-force that is Screamadelica -- one of the most seminal and celebrated records of that or any era. Gillespie recently talked about how the drug ecstasy was instrumental in the making of the record and how it "opened everybody's minds" during those sessions.
This brings us to another reason why the Conservatives possibly weren't going to play Primal Scream at their party conference. Gillespie added how Creation Records boss Alan McGee introduced him to acid house in 1988.
"He just went f***ing crazy -- one minute he was listening to Gram Parsons and the Stones and the Modern Lovers, and the next minute he was like this mad acid house guy. It was like seeing him have a religious conversion. All of a sudden he was begging you and going, 'Please, please listen to this music! Please, please take this new drug!'"
He continued: "You were like, 'Alright, I'll take one,' and [McGee's] like, 'Here, take another one, do you like it? Take another one ... and another half.' That was my introduction to E. And then all of a sudden I'm listening to this record, turning the bass up, going, 'Oh! Ooh!'"
Be that as it may, Gillespie was asked by Uncut magazine not that long ago how important were drugs to the actual making of Screamadelica and he had this to say: "You never get anything done on acid or E, it's a f***ing disaster. I remember [keyboard player Martin] Duffy coming in for a session, tripping. He ended up lying on his back, p**** into the air. "I'm p**** into the sun, man!" I'll tell you a secret. I was so wasted on Slip Inside This House that I didn't sing on it. It's Robert Young's voice on there!"
So it's official, then. The drugs don't work.