Bandwagonesque, Loveless, Screamadelica. Three albums any independent record company would be proud to release. For Creation Records to release them all within the space of three months is nothing short of miraculous. Creation, at the time, was a label on the verge of bankruptcy, mostly due to the eccentricities of Kevin Shields and his wayward recording practices (Kevin also happened to re-master this re-issue). And its boss, Alan McGee, was caning it night after night while encouraging all the bands on his roster to do the same. Fortunately, for Creation and McGee, these three records were critical and commercial successes.
Although ‘Loaded’ and ‘Come Together’ had been hits in 1990, the two follow-up singles (‘Higher Than The Sun’ and ‘Don’t Fight It, Feel It’) didn’t exactly worry the Top 10. The music press hadn’t forgotten the Scream’s paisley period, which journos unmercifully ripped the piss out of them for and ‘Loaded’ was, for the most part, considered the work of Andrew Weatherall, rather than the band themselves. The reality was that the first two Primal Scream long-players were mediocre retro-fixated fare and Andrew Weatherall had transformed a pedestrian tune from one of those records into a sublime wonder. ‘Loaded’ was the group’s new calling card – brash, hedonistic, euphoric. Few believed that they could pull off a whole album of this quality.
Once Screamadelica finally hit the shelves, few could argue with the genius which lay within its grooves. In theory, it shouldn’t work. Acid house, rock ‘n’ roll, dub, ambient and psychedelia are all thrown together into one giant aural stew. But every track on the album is vital, in both senses of the word. Many dance records have been described as bringing a listener on a journey but Screamadelica is one of the first for which the description is apt. The album builds during the first three tracks, moving from the Stonesy gospel swagger of ‘Movin’ On Up’ into their cover of The 13th Floor Elevators, ‘Slip Inside This House’, which meshes sitar swirls with Italo-house pianos. From there, they drag you on to the dancefloor for ‘Don’t Fight It, Feel It’. The sublime bliss of ‘Higher Than The Sun’ and ‘Inner Flight’ give the listener a breather – ten minutes in the chill-out room, if you will. The double-whammy rapture of ‘Loaded’ and ‘’Come Together’ follow, providing the listener with the musical equivalent of a bundle of happiness. From here on in the pace slows down, allowing the partaker a chance to wind down.
For many people, the questions they will have in approaching this remastered edition of Screamadelica will be:
Does the album still stand up? Most certainly. Yeah, the album features drum loops and piano sounds redolent of the early ’90s but then it was recorded in that era. That doesn’t mean it has dated.
What’s the bonus material like? Well, if you have a wedge-load of cash, the deluxe box set looks fairly exhaustive and only seems to be missing a Screamdelica smiley sun-face frisbee. But the 2-cd version only features four tracks on the second cd (the Dixie Narco EP), one of which is already on the first cd. Of these, the real gem is the laid-back ten-minuter, ‘Screamadelica’ (confusingly enough, not on the original album of the same name). Disappointingly, none of the (often mighty) remixes have been included on the second cd of the standard reissued release.
Should I buy this? If you don’t own a copy or have lost it, then go out quicksmart and purchase one. Otherwise, your original should do you.
Is ‘Higher Than The Sun’ the best song ever? Pretty much, yeah. And it’s here twice. Once with Jah Wobble. How awesome is that?