Album Shuffle 002: Primal Scream, SCREAMADELICA

Creation · 1991

Probably my first exposure to Primal Scream was when, ten years ago or so, I checked The Rough Guide To Rock out of the library and Napstered at least one track from each of the albums I didn't already know. (Which was most of them.) "Loaded" was what I ended up with off Screamadelica. I played it once or twice, and apart from the occasional impulse download whenever a rock-press rave got the better of me, have mostly ignored Primal Scream since.

Which is kind of a shame, as ten years ago, or maybe even five, I would have loved everything on Screamadelica that wasn't "Loaded." The Rolling-Stones-cum-acid-house sound of the record would have been a great way to bridge the gap between the classic rock I already knew and the sleek ultramodern electronic dance musics I've still never fully embraced, the odd track or album aside. But even as I proceeded to fall hard for Britpop (except Oasis), Madchester, and shoegaze, Primal Scream remained at arms' length, their tendency towards elongated dancefloor structures and repetitive jams overwhelming whatever pop-song craftsmanship Bobby Gillespie might have displayed.

I'm still charmed by the slide-guitar accents and enjoy the gospel-choir dramatics, but on the whole the record leaves me cold. It's far too late, I'm far too old and American and unimmersed in the rules of British rave culture of the early 90s for this to be more to me than an historical curiosity, a rockist justification of dance that doesn't need any justification. The few times I'm interested in the programmed beats they lay behind their Oasis-level choogle, it's because they remind me of actually great dance music of the era, the new jack swing and Euro-techno and party rap that I was listening to in 1991 because I hadn't yet been informed that rock was the only acceptable music for a white male teenager, and which in my decrepitude I'm far more interested in than yet another guitar band thinking they're making a statement by selling their guitars and buying turntables.

All of which is probably more historico-cultural animus than Screamadelica deserves. It's a perfectly fine record: a great mix, front-loaded with hot jams and winding down in its back half into more meditative, chillout paces. If I had the patience to listen to it more so that the songs became a part of me rather than representing some cultural and historical Other which I don't recognize myself in, I'd probably like it a lot more.

But there's a lot more out there to get to first. See you in another ten years, Screamadelica.

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