Primal Scream : More Light
If you’d suggested to Bobby Gillespie 20 years ago that Primal Scream would be releasing a new record in 2013, you’d probably have been greeted with a slurred collage of abstract metaphorical images that ranged from Lewis Carroll to Julian Cope to Keith Richards. Then with an impish giggle and a flash of his beady eyes, Gillespie would disappear into a distant cognitive light known only to those holding the special chemical key.
But here it is, 2013, and Primal Scream is back, operating beyond than the notionally functioning state of many of its contemporaries. In deciding to release a new album, Primal Scream entered the lion’s den of critical and population attention so many other reformed bands have either baulked at, or have been incinerated within.
But More Light is a quality record – not, of course, a Psychedelica, but a record that locates Primal Scream as a relevant beast for the modern world. The opening track, 2013, errs on the side of cultural polemic, the ranting observations of a man recognising the world of his youth has disappeared forever; it’s nine minutes of solid rock’n’roll pinned to the wall against a kaleidoscopic background, as Gillespie wanders through his chosen rhetorical pastures; a couple of tracks later, and the theme evolves and expands in Culturocide. This is the world in which Primal Scream finds itself fighting: the promise of freedom has been arrested by the beast of the political economy and all its suffocating tentacles, and only Primal Scream’s dub-happy psychedelic electronica provides a path to enlightenment.
River Of Pain is, by contrast, restrained: a cloud of despair pervades the air; this is soul without the hope. On Hit Void the shackles are thrown off, and it’s back into the waiting arms of straight-down-the-line rock’n’roll, in all its defiantly ironic form; coupled with the superbly brilliant space-and-Stax Invisible City, this is the Primal Scream we all want to embrace and stick our proverbial tongues down its throat in passionate excitement.
Tenement Kid could be soppy if it wasn’t so compelling; Gillespie’s social commentary echoes like the protests of a disaffected youth shouting from the top floor of a dysfunctional urban housing project; Goodbye Johnny is the natural couple, a stark portrayal of where things can go if you lose the plot, and your grip on what’s important.
You can take Sideman wherever you want – there’s a riff to die for, and Gillespie’s obtuse rapping and galactic noise reminiscent of that first trip you did when the walls told you the secrets of life. Elimination Blues is nothing short of a killer track, Talk Talk in a spaceship with Sly and the Family Stone in the command module. If you need anymore convincing, you’ve still got Turn Each Other Inside Out to put you back into early '70s Stones mode, with its attendant and decadent glory.
And while Primal Scream might have a permanent rental property in the fringes of the rock’n’roll scene, it’s got a better grip on reality than you might expect – Walking With The Beat is sombre, measured and soft to the touch; It’s Alright, It’s OK is the party track you want to leave with ringing in your ears. This is what Primal Scream does best – take you out there, spin you around and show you a good time that you’ll never want to forget. There’s plenty of light left in Primal Scream.
BY PATRICK EMERY
Best Track: Elimination Blues
If You Like This, You’ll Like This: PRIMAL SCREAM, INSPIRAL CARPETS, BURIED Feather.
In A Word: Psychedelica