Why is it only in 2021 that I am listening to Primal Scream’s Screamadelica for the first time?
A lot of critically acclaimed music from the 1980s maintains a pop appeal that means it still gets radio play, is featured in club nights, and is heavily promoted in my Youtube home. However, perhaps the post-rock, trip-hop and grunge of the early 1990s doesn’t have the same enduring commercial appeal. Whatever the reason, I’ve been missing out.
Released in 1991, the band’s third album was the first ever winner of the Mercury Prize, along with many other awards (including ‘Druggiest album ever’). The album cover is iconic – apparently painted from the memory of a water stain on the ceiling the artist had been watching during a trip.
I loved the range of genres across the album. You could play two tracks and not even recognise them as being from the same band. But, when listened through as a whole, it all flows from one track to the next.
If, like me, you’ve heard of this album but never listened to it all the way through, I would highly recommend that you take an hour to rectify that.
Next up, timely hot takes on Led Zeppelin IV
Movin’ on Up. An instantly recognisable song. Not my favourite on the album, but a lively start. The first song on the album having a long fade out feels unusual, and allows for a quick shift in tone.
Slip Inside This House introduces us to the rest of the album by starting with a sitar, and ending with Gorrilaz-style laughing.
Don’t Fight It, Feel It is easily my favourite track on the album. The five note riff will be forever embedded in my mind – I loved the way it was incorporated into at least three different sections of the track. The constant “gonna get high ’til the day I die” refrain seals the album’s place in NME’s listicle.
Higher Than The Sun for me is the band’s best. It feels totally original, and also reminiscent of other music I love. There is a clear celebration of a culture that entirely went over my head as I listened to it endlessly as a twelve year old (it was included on one of Q magazine’s ‘greatest artists’ CDs).
Inner Flight is a peaceful interlude (which sounds a lot like the Macalania Woods theme from Final Fantasy X). The midway point of the album.
Come Together runs for over ten minutes, and as new elements are introduced through the track feels like the kind of ascendant music commonly used to end a set. At five minutes, the vocals come in – preaching that genres are just labels and ‘music is music’.
Loaded is one of those ‘you have definitely heard’, but wouldn’t get right in a pub quiz music round. Slightly ruined for me by being used in countless adverts over the years, I still enjoyed the many samples used. Particularly “I Don’t Want to Lose Your Love,”, which had an equally enjoyable recent turn in Joe Goddard’s “Lose Your Love”.
Damaged. I find it hard to accept that this is on the same album as tracks three and four. Reminiscent of Hefner, or many other things in John Peel’s Festive Fifty. Nothing to dislike here.
I’m Comin’ Down. The outro to the album. It feels like you’ve woken up the next morning.
Higher Than The Sun (again). Another look at one of the best tracks is always appreciated, especially when the edit is as different as it is here.
Shine Like Stars ends the album with dragging it out, in a similar way to how “Inner Flight” brought us here.