Saturday 24 August 2019

Primal Scream succumb to Pier pressure

Iconic: Bobby Gillespie
Iconic: Bobby Gillespie
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

In 'The Inside Story Of Primal Scream's Screamadelica', James Brown wrote in Sabotage Times: "It was a Monday morning but it could have been a Tuesday morning as they hadn't actually stopped for sundown or sunrise for a while. The only reason they knew it was Monday was because the newspapers their agent had been reading before they left his flat were Sunday newspapers. Bobby Gillespie and Andrew Innes headed out late Friday night and just done club - club - club - club - flat - flat - flat - club - club - club - club ever since. Neither of them had been home for a while. But that wasn't unusual - nowadays there were more than three 'E's in weekend'."

Screamadelica, Primal Scream's 1991 album, is one of the greatest releases of that decade. It was a revolutionary record, with elements of Fellini's Satyricon. You wouldn't expect any less from the son of a leading Glaswegian trade unionist. Which is why Andrew Neil on BBC's This Week last October asking Gillespie to join him, Tory Michael Portillo and Labour's Caroline Flint in the so-called dance phenomenon, aka the Skibidi challenge, was too sphincter-tighteningly cringe-city for words. Gillespie, needless to mention, declined.

Other facts that might have drawn Neil to the conclusion that Gillespie wasn't going to dad-dance with an ex-Cabinet Minister of the Conservative Party was perhaps that in the week Princess Diana's funeral was held in London in 1997, Gillespie issued a statement: "Primal Scream have no respect whatsoever for Diana Spencer or any member of the English royal family. We are totally opposed to the monarchy."

Creation Records founder Alan McGee, who signed Primal Scream - as well as Oasis, and The Jesus And Mary Chain - said: "The thing about them is they're honest. Whatever they're feeling at the time is what they're going to do." Indeed.

On Private Wars from Chaosmosis, the Scream's 11th album, Bobby sings: "Thorns grown in your heart/ Poisoned from the start." On their 2013 long player More Light - my favourite Scream album with tracks like Relativity and Elimination Blues, with Robert Plant - Bobby sings on Walking With The Beast: "He hates himself and everyone, he is sucking on a loaded gun."

1994's Give Out But Don't Give Up and 2000's XTRMNTR albums are also well worth a listen. Of Give Out, which was recorded amid much Class A chaos in Memphis, Gillespie noted: "We had to get out of London. If we'd made a record in London, New York or Los Angeles, there would have been two, maybe three deaths in the band the way things were going."

He added that they "made Give Out because we had a lot of heroin addiction in the band, a lot of cocaine, we were f**ked up and we wanted to make a different record. It turned out the way it turned out." As for XTRMNTR, he said: "Everyone thinks that it's a political record because we had a song called Swastika Eyes on there. Really, we were writing about the effects of the drug culture on myself and my friends. We were all neutralising ourselves."

Formed in 1982, The Scream remain maybe the most iconic group of their time. (Sadly, guitarist Robert 'Throb' Young passed away in 2014.)

Primal Scream play Dun Laoghaire Pier on June 2 with The Charlatans and Fun Lovin' Criminals.

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