Friday, 26 June 2015

50 albums to take to my grave #25: Screamadelica

Every so often, on very rare occasions, a record comes along that defines not just a scene, not just an era, but an entire generation. 'Sgt. Pepper' is one; 'Never Mind The Bollocks' is another. For my generation, it has to be 'Screamadelica'.

'Screamadelica' is a rock album that sounds like no other rock album ever made. 'Screamadelica' is a dance record that sounds like no other dance record ever made. It captured the spirit of an age in the UK, when successive Tory governments had bled the poor dry, fed the rich and created a culture of greed and selfishness. Young people either had to conform or resign to a life on the slagheap of society. Some of us chose neither. Some of us made a third, previously unviable choice.

'Screamadelica' is the sound of two previously disparate groups - the indie kids and the ravers - coming together as one, united against the vile rulers who tried to crush us. Primal Scream had been a fey indie band, then a heavy rock band. Going dance was not a move anyone expected them to make, but when Loaded came out, there really was no more perfect a record to herald the times. Oddly, the next three singles were largely ignored, but when 'Screamadelica' hit the shelves, it was like a revolution had started. It was a record so of its time, yet I can still listen to it now and not believe it's 24 years old. Fuck! I was 20 when it was released! Jeez - where did that time go?

It kicks off with the uplifting Stones-esque Movin' On Up, before giving way to the laid-back psychedelia of Roky Erikson's Slip Inside This House. Then you get the floor-filling thomp of Don't Fight It, Feel It with one of Denise Johnson's finest vocals which she no doubt sang with a massive smile on her face. Just three tracks in and already 'Screamadelica' had said more to the kids than every parent, every politician, every corporate tosspot in the land for all of time itself.

I could stop there - I should stop there - but come on, how can I not talk about the blissed out, loved-up vibes of Come Together, present here in extended remix form? This was our national anthem, dammit. "Come together as one." The soulful, bluesy comedown of Damaged makes me swoon; the Orb's radical dissection of Higher Than The Sun (A Dub Symphony in Two Parts) is audacious. It kind of feels out of place in a way, yet that also totally justifies it inclusion. It's like it represented those of us listening - out of place mavericks on the edges of 'normality'. I ask you this - what record represents today's misfits? Where is their defining moment? Oh how we need another 'Screamadelica'.

You can argue all you like - 'Stone Roses', 'Bummed', whatever. For me, 'Screamadelica' has everything that defined those heady, hedonistic days those of us of a certain age can barely remember, yet strangely recall as if it was yesterday. The music, the people, the drugs, the parties, the dancing. It's an epochal masterpiece. It's the record that made me accept dance music, that forced me to embrace what was going on around me and realise that whatever the music, whatever the clothes, whatever the drugs, we were the same; indie kids and ravers united. "We are together. We are unified. And all for the cause."


  1. That's an impassioned and confident position Robster. It's interesting that I give Screamadelica more time now than I probably did back 24 yrs ago. Yes, I bought it immediately upon release and was already a fan of the band throughout its earlier growing period. I don't think it had the same impact on this American that it did in the UK. The Rave/Indie intersection certainly provided a great deal of excellent music, but not all of it was sustained. Primal Scream kept my attention by not really repeating themselves over the next decade - something some of their contemporaries in the scene were really unable to do.

  2. It's an absolutely defining record, full of sonic possibility and progression that also captures the times perfectly. I read somewhere it was also the last big seller on vinyl from a British band.
    Swiss Adam

  3. I couldn't of said it better myself!! A Andy Wearherall classic!!

  4. これは文句なしの名盤。Madchester Rave on!