Masterpiece: Screamadelica


[Today: Higher than the sun…]

Bobby Gillespie was a drummer with The Jesus & Mary Chain before he broke away in early 1986 and formed a new band. Primal Scream’s first two albums were pleasant, nondescript hippie rock that didn’t make an impression on anyone. But then DJ Andrew Weatherall took the song ‘I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have’ from their self-titled sophomore album, pulled it completely apart, added in bits of Robert Johnson, Edie Brickell and Peter Fonda, and re-assembled the whole thing as ‘Loaded’, which became the hit that launched Primal Scream on their way.

Their subsequent 1991 album, Screamadelica is all about ecstasy – be it religious, orgasmic, or drug-induced. Album opener ‘Movin’ On Up’ sounds like the great-grandchild of ‘Amazing Grace’ and speaks to reaching a higher plane. On ‘Higher Than The Sun’ Gillespie sounds like he’s tripping balls, while on ‘Come Together’ (not the Beatles tune) he sounds post-coital and high as a kite. The album’s only cover is a tripped-out spin through 13th Floor Elevators’ ‘Slip Inside This House’ that fully celebrates the concept of leaving your senses behind.

“We want to be free to do what we want to do… and we want to get loaded… and we want to have a good time… and that’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna have a good time… we’re gonna have a party.” Peter Fonda’s wild-eyed quote from Easy Rider kicks off ‘Loaded’, but it might as well stand as a mission statement for this entire album. Screamadelica was inspired by (and helped fuel) the UK rave culture, but its gospel backup singers and uplifting tone help sweep its subject matter out of the gutter and into the stars.

In the long history of rock, few groups have sounded less like their name than Primal Scream. Far from being a punk band that echoed Arthur Janov‘s famous therapy technique, Primal Scream circa Screamadelica was an amalgamation of Stonesy guitar licks, dance music, gospel choir, and especially dub reggae. “Our attitude was Primal Scream can be anything,” said Gillespie, and with this album, they were even more than that…

Listen: Movin’ On Up

Listen: Come Together

Listen: Loaded

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