[20] Primal Scream, ‘2013’

2013-primal-scream

I imagine Bobby Gillespie wrote this – or at least named it – with the top of year-end lists in mind. It works better as the opening song though, and that’s why it’s not 19 or 18 or 17. A bit of manipulation for dramatic effect.

More Light is one of those albums where Primal Scream take their two favourite things – louche rock from 1972, proto-punk from 1973; basically whatever was buzzing when Gillespie turned a teen (that’s why all the albums I make sound like It Bites) – and mix them together. ‘2013’ even chucks in jazz and space-rock and standard polemic about Robespierre and lost voices of dissent to provide a grab-bag of classic ‘Scream. It should be hilarious but somehow it’s kind of thrilling. Skinny-limbed chutzpah goes a long way.

Junior has some affinity with this lot – “like that [Screamadelica] t-shirt that I’m wearing on your mousemat” – and with a slight grimace admits, “I sort of like it”. Her five-year-old sister (Junior 2) shrugs, while yet another sister (three-year-old Junior 3) says, “I think it’s great”. See, we’re getting somewhere already.

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[10] Emeli Sandé, ‘Heaven’

Emeli Sandé

“Will you recognise ME?” Sure. You’re that Shara Nelson, aren’t you?

Bit of satire there, ladeezangennelmen. Junior seems to know all the words to this one already – which is more than we can say about ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ because I never play it, having absolutely KILLED it in 1991. It left a grimy fingerprint on the stereo along with Screamadelica, Eg & Alice’s ‘Indian’, Jesus Loves You’s ‘Bow Down Mister’ and Jellyfish’s Bellybutton. And, let’s face facts, The Milltown Brothers’ debut album.

Junior asks if she’s English, obviously, but of course Sandé couldn’t be less English if she was Neptunian. She’s Scottish and let’s say that she caresses ‘Heaven’ with that peculiar Scots soul passion, ranking alongside Sharleen Spiteri, Lorraine McIntosh, Marti Pellow, Pat Kane, Lulu and, er, Maria McKee. On firmer ground, the beats are terrific and the strings – ahem – sympathetic. That Critics’ Choice BRIT will look lovely in her palm.

The Rolling Stones, ‘Tumbling Dice’

The Rolling Stones

As Beatlemania strikes for the fourth time – yes, fourth: there was that first one, then the chronological single releases in the 80s, then Anthology, now these rather comely remasters – it seems only fitting to gad about playing Stones records.

But what would The Beatles be like if they were still around today? Notwithstanding some high profile deaths, would we be dismissing them for not having had a Top 10 hit since ‘Got My Mind Set On You’? Would we be saying, “Oh, but you have to see them live to understand. Not that they’ve performed since that rooftop gig in ‘69”? Would we be suggesting their last great peak was when Linda supported an addled Lennon on guitar duties in the early 70s?

Mick Taylor was the Stones’ unsung hero as 60s turned to 70s, initially stepping in when Brian Jones was seemingly not fit for the job, and then way too dead for the job. But the man on Exile On Main Street’s ‘Tumbling Dice’ is still Keef, a trademark riff boogie-ing the song along. It’s an easy, devastated rocker, bang-on cool in its barely glued swagger, and the touchstone for all those would-be Stones. Just pick up Primal Scream’s Give Out But Don’t Be Give Up and jump to ‘Call On Me’. “Carbon-copy” implies a laborious step between the two.

Charlie Watts would be pleased in his dotage to hear Junior praising the drums. She goes on to join the gospel backing for the “baaayyy-beh”s, and she and her sister give it the full lungs for the fading “got to roll me”s, swept up in the ecstatic cyclone of soul-soaked seedy rawk.

Partners in crime:

[17] Primal Scream, ‘Rocks’/’Funky Jam’

For ‘Rocks’, Junior clapped her hands in a far more robust way than Bobby “Dough Wrists” Gillespie ever mustered, before whipping out the plastic guitar once more to throw some hammy rock poses. And let’s face it, Give Out But Don’t Give Up was all about the hammy rock poses. After 1991’s Screamdelica and the 10-minute bliss-out track of the same name on 1992’s Dixie-Narco EP, ‘Rocks’ was a massive disappointment, but its puppy-dog enthusiasm is infectious and it warrants a place in the chart for the number of times I played it while trying to like it. Wow, that endorsement rings out.

‘Funky Jam’ was drowned out by the squalling bedlam of bashed plastic guitar buttons, and maybe that was a blessing. From what I could make out, it’s become leadfooted in the intervening years – and it never had convincing funk chops in the first place, despite the presence of Godfunker George Clinton. Triumphs all round, then. Junior just kept playing the riffs, asking her mum each time, “Do you recognise this one?”

Afterwards, I showed her the cover of the latest CD to land on the doormat. “Do you know who this is?” Junior studied it for a moment: “Girls Not Allowed”.

[18] The Sabres Of Paradise, ‘Wilmot’

Before we’re inundated with letters (as per), Andrew Weatherall’s crew did indeed have a “The” in front of their name. It’s not a particularly outlandish claim. Not like, “The record’s actually about popular children’s TV presenter and latter-day West End musicals stalwart Gary Wilmot”. Not like that.

Reminiscent of Weatherall’s work on Primal Scream’s Screamdelica, this is a dub symphony to match The Orb’s excursions on ‘Higher Than The Sun’. With its exotic gibber and tribal hoodoos, let’s call it Rainforest Skank. Junior latched onto the trumpets – this coming the day after it emerged her top request for Father Christmas is in fact a pink trumpet – and tried to recreate the deep, juddering bassline with her plastic “electric” guitar. Let’s call that a flair for improvisation.

[16] Super Furry Animals, ‘Demons’

“I have a dartboard memory, so I’ll forget any felony”. One doesn’t often link the words ‘Welsh’ and ‘genius’, but the Super Furries have been confounding received wisdom for years. ‘Demons’ isn’t their best, not that it matters to Junior. It draws her in right away, the psychedelia-lite pulling her towards the stereo where she can adopt her forthright chairman pose at the coffee table. But this is no Bored Meeting!

SFA were easily outstripping their Creation cohorts by this stage. Oasis had tanked hugely – nah, you won’t see the ‘D’You Know What I Mean’ drone here – and the Boo Radleys were desperately trying to stamp on the embers of their commercial success. Primal Scream were feigning a return to form with Vanishing Point, but you try listening to the singles (at least) now. I did.

So, hats off to the Welsh chaps. Junior liked ‘The International Language Of Screaming’ too. She could sing along to that.

[4] Primal Scream, ‘Don’t Fight It, Feel It’

Don't Fight It, Feel It

We’d already had single-of-the-90s ‘Loaded’, the astonishing eight- and ten-minute versions of ‘Come Together’ and the dubby psychedelia of ‘Higher Than The Sun’. Now there was the acid techno of ‘Don’t Fight It, Feel It’. Should be quite an album, we thought.

A chorus of tuned-up cicadas kept this loopy floorfiller crashing along. Must be a first for popular music, that. Hooked up to the more conventional, soulful testifying from Denise Johnson and the bluesy piano, it made for a sweaty classic. I might just be thinking of the uniquely moist walls of Bristol’s Tube club, mind you.

Still a bangin’ choon (hey!), it had Junior wriggling over the edges of the inflatable, rocking to the pumping beat.

It wasn’t to everyone’s taste at the time, though, I admit. Steve Wright played it on his afternoon show while I was painting my parents’ window frames, and said that everyone was raving about it but he couldn’t understand why. A man sporting that moustache and those sub-Lennon specs was never going to be down with us hepcats.

[All my vinyl rips seem to have corrupted; Top 11 mp3s to follow… later]

[5] One Dove, ‘Fallen’

One Dove

I was 18/19 in 1991, and we were hip young gunslingers still going clubbing, DJing, buying all the platters that matter and walking the walk. It was the fag-end of indie dance, that blew out with the dazzling fireworks of Screamadelica, as its leading lights embraced clubland completely or discovered that they’d “always had a grunge element” to their music. ‘Fallen’ was a comedown anthem, beautiful, lush and warmly groovy.

One Dove were ploughing a Scots furrow of Balearic house, reflective yet sunny. The pop sensibilities of Altered Images came together with studio boffinry and Dot Allison’s breathy vocals to create a record perfect for Ibizan terrace dawns. Premiered, however, in Rimini, it was immediately brought to Andrew Weatherall’s attention and he pledged to help them make the natural successor to Primal Scream’s touchstone.

Shame, then, that it took them TWO YEARS to put Morning Dove White together. One Dove missed that bus.

Two years, even 15 years down the line the song doesn’t date. Dot cries out, and we still want to forgive and to save her. Junior peers over the side of the high chair to see how far the singer has fallen, ready to lend a chubby, helping hand. For the rest of the record, she’s happy to eat her breakfast and wallow in the plush sounds. Now she wants to know what all this Screamadelica stuff is all about.

[All my vinyl rips seem to have corrupted; Top 11 mp3s to follow… later]