Classic Album Review: Primal Scream – Screamadelica (1991)

Written by: Paul Horsman

It’s good to share. So each month we’re recommending an album that, if you’re not already familiar with, you should really go and investigate.

Classic Album: Primal Scream - Screamadelica

We start with a bit of a rebel. In 1991, Primal Scream’s Screamadelica captured the spirit of the acid house era and made it accessible to the masses, speaking not only to the ravers but to the rockers and indie kids too. It dished out a woozy musical trip that offered house, rock and gospel, as well as a peculiar sense of belonging… even if you were listening lonesome with nothing but a packet of custard creams for company.

When sessions began on their third album, it had been assumed the band would simply plod along with their typical style of retro rock. Instead, they dived head first into a ripe rave scene, met and collaborated with some of its key players (most noticeably Andy Weatherall) and created a soundtrack for the ultimate hedonistic weekend.

It all kicks off with some relatively straightforward guitar. Movin’ On Up is perhaps Primal Scream’s most popular song to date, an upbeat ditty that’s guided by gospel-steeped vocals. Brimming with optimism from start to finish, it’s easily something you’d put on while getting ready for that big night ahead.

It’s also a bit of a red herring. Nothing else on Screamadelica sounds as forthright or traditional. Slip Inside This House immediately makes the transition from bedroom to club, followed by Don’t Fight It, Feel It which pushes beyond the party’s peak by dropping a house-infected piano loop around the 3’25 mark.

Then things really take off.

The quadruplet of tracks that steer through Screamadelica’s centrepiece is also that point in the night when there’s no turning back. Higher Than The Sun and Inner Flight bask in their light-headedness, taking a breather so the rush can be experienced in full. They make the ten-minute pinnacle, Come Together, sound even more blissful. Built around a Jesse Jackson speech regarding the unison of jazz, gospel and blues performers on the same stage (‘All those are just labels, we know that music is music’), it’s a nod to the album’s own fusion of styles, as well as that sense of connection found on the dance floor. If ever there was a tune to capture the essence of strangers hugging like best friends; this was it. And welcoming them at the summit is Loaded, a jubilant track that states in its opening sample: ‘We’re going to have a good time.’ It certainly lives up to that promise.

Damaged may seem a little out of the place, yet it allows a moment of reflection before the inevitable. Over the course of three trippy songs, Screamadelica gradually comes back down. But as the airwaves fill with silence, it leaves a yearning to hit the play button and start over again. Just like all good parties.

Screamadelica created quite a reaction at the time of its original release. It became the first ever winner of the Mercury Music Prize, yet many dismissed it as a producer’s album. That seems a little harsh towards the band, although Primal Scream has yet to better it (only 2000’s XTRMTR comes close).

25 years on and it’s clear that Screamadelica is destined to outlive the brain cells of those who fell in love with it first time around. In short, it’s a club-cultured classic that has stood the cruellest test of them all. Time.

Author: Paul Horsman

Paul likes writing. And music. It’s unclear whether he likes sharing his suggestions with others or simply likes unleashing an ugly critic within… but we allow him to write about music on The Void.

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