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Primal Scream


Primal Scream would be a great name for a Punk band. But it's actually the moniker of an Alt. Rock outfit from Glasgow.

Bobby Gillespie was the drummer for The Jesus And Mary Chain. All the while, he had a side project going, Primal Scream. After the latter issued their debut single, "All Fall Down," which received positive reviews, Gillespie received an ultimatum from The Jesus And Mary Chain - either dissolve Primal Scream or resign. Gillespie chose the latter.

Initially, it didn't look like a smart decision. A couple albums came and went, "Sonic Flower Groove" ('87) and "Primal Scream" ('89), failing to garner critical or public support.

Taking an interest in the Acid House trend, the group presented DJ Andrew Weatherall with a copy of "I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have," a track from "Primal Scream," for him to remix. Weatherall lifted a drum loop from an Italian bootleg mix of Edie Brickell's "What I Am," added both a sample of Gillespie singing a line from Robert Johnson's "Terraplane Blues" and dialog from the B-film "The Wild Angels." The end result was titled "Loaded," the group's first track to crack the U.K. Top 20. This began Weatherall's long association with the band serving as the producer on several tracks.

A second single, "Come Together" also landed in the Top 20. The two songs appeared on '91's "Screamadelica." The album peaked at #8 and netted some positive reviews and sales for a change.

In a piece of sweet irony, "Screamadelica" won the Mercury Music Prize beating out The Jesus And Mary Chain.

Historically, Primal Scream band members came and went regularly. A large part of the group's instability could be traced their seemingly insatiable heroin habit. There was the famous (infamous?) story of a band argument over whether to get 'Vietnamese, Chinese or Indian'.

When a non-band member suggested just getting burgers and calling it good, he was bluntly told, "It's heroin we're discussing, not food!" The upshot of the addictions was the addition of session guitarist Ian Dimond for Primal Scream's next album "Give Out But Don't Give Up."

Leaving the dance floor behind, Primal Scream dusted off a Stones ethos for the '94 album that was best known for the #7 U.K. hit "Rocks." Primal Scream then toured the U.S, opening for Depeche Mode.

Bassist Gary Mounfeld, formerly of Stones Roses, and drummer Paul Mulraney were onboard for "Vanishing Point," a swirling album that seemed a cross between "Screamadelica" and "Give Out But Don't Give Up." Named after the '71 film, Gillespie saw the album as an alternative soundtrack. The lead single, "Kowalski," was another U.K. Top 10 hit.

Having survived rumors that the band was breaking up, Mulraney had departed and was eventually replaced by Darin Mooney, and some less than stellar shows, Primal Scream issued "If They Move, Kill 'Em" EP in '98. It marked their first collaboration with My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields, who would become a semi-permanent member.

The group's sixth album, "XTRMNTR," was by far their most political with "Swastika Eyes," an overtly anti-American track. "XTRMNTR" went to #3 in the U.K. and also was placed at #3 on NME's list of The Top 100 Greatest Albums of The Decade.

"Evil Heat" dropped two years later. Though still political the '02 set was not as intense. There was even a concession to world events. The song "Bomb The Pentagon" was changed to "Rise" following the 9/11 attacks.

The album was most notable for containing a cover of the Lee Hazelwood/Nancy Sinatra hit "Some Velvet Morning" with actress Kate Moss handling Sinatra's part.



'03 "Dirty Hits" contained Primal Scream's better known songs and previously unreleased mixes. For a group that had gone through so much, it was remarkable they were still around. But any notion that it would be smooth sailing from now on was dispelled a couple of years later.

Some bands can find trouble without much effort - especially those with political leanings and a loose cannon singer. The '05 Glastonbury Festival appearance proved to be a black mark against the band.

Taunting the audience throughout the set, as Gillespie did, and playing beyond the allotted time are usually sins that can be overlooked.

What can't be so easily dismissed is totally screwing up a feel good charity effort. Festival acts were asked to sign a Make Poverty History poster that would be auctioned off for charity. A no brainer. Sign your name and everybody loves you.

But no. Gillespie, with pen in hand, altered to poster to read Make Israel History, apparently showing his support for the Palestinian cause. The immediate backlash was severe.

A year later, "Riot City Blues" was unfurled. And despite mixed reviews it went to the #5 on the U.K. chart. A single from that set "Country Girl" also peaked at #5.

Next up was '08's "Beautiful Future."

Mounfeld left in '11 to join a reformed Stone Roses and was replaced by Debbie Googe of My Bloody Valentine.

Primal Scream played the '13 Glastonbury Festival, with a much lower profile, before releasing their 10th studio album, "More Light."

Then came news that former Primal Scream guitarist ('84 to '06) Robert 'Throb' Young had died (9/9/14) at his home in Sussex, UK. He was 49.

Moving forward, Primal Scream rolled out "Chaosmosis" on their own imprint, First International, in '16.
Primal Scream Discography

Albums:

1987 Sonic Flower Groove
1989 Primal Scream
1991 Screamadelica
1994 Give Out But Don't Give Up
1997 Vanishing Point
2000 XTRMNTR
2002 Evil Heat
2006 Riot City Blues
2008 Beautiful Future
2013 More Light
2016 Chaosmosis


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