Archive for the ‘Primal Scream’ Category

My Bloody Valentine

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Listen: Soon / My Bloody Valentine

Alan McGee had invited me down to an early My Bloody Valentine show at London’s ULU during February ’89, just after he’d signed the band to Creation. Seemed like every time I’d get back from the UK, there’d be a good reason to return straight away. New groups literally materialized overnight. It was a dream come true for an A&R rep with a frequent flyer miles addiction.

I timed this visit to take in the latest media invented genre, shoegazing, with My Bloody Valentine being crowned the apparent rulers. I do wish I could recall who else was on the bill that night. I want to say Silverfish and Spiritualized. Regardless, the whole thing was dead boring. Not a flipping song in sight the entire evening. Then and there, I never saw the point of this appropriately described genre. Dreadful stuff.

But fast forward a full year and a half. ‘Soon’ is the band’s new single, one of those records you hadn’t heard of when you left New York, but was everywhere upon arrival in pre-internet July ’90. Gary Crowley played me it that first afternoon. It was even on the car radio when we left his apartment. Just about every office at Island seemed to be blasting it the next day, each attempting to out hip the other. ‘Soon’ was most definitely my soundtrack to that visit.

The following winter, the band played the new Ritz in New York. By then, the club had moved uptown to 54th Street. Although most of the magic the original place had was now gone, there were still plenty of great shows. Both Jane’s Addiction and The Red Hot Chili Peppers peaked their club band periods on that stage, Primal Scream did SCREAMADELICA, the return of the original Damned and Buzzcocks happened there, The Charlatans made their US premier, Ministry playing behind a chain linked fence, daring audience members dove into the mosh pit below from the second floor balcony during The Ramones’ two nights in February ’90 and a jungle red latex clad Lux Interior drank wine from a stray hightop sneaker shot onto the stage during The Cramps LOOK MOM NO HEAD show.

So the opportunity was set for My Bloody Valentine to prove their worth, become royalty, leave a most historical stamp on the moment, the way ‘Soon’ had and has. With intense crowd angst, the band came on to a visual storm of dry ice, saturated red and purple pulsing strobes and seriously tore into ‘Soon’. For a minute or so, the shrill and volume felt painfully positive, but the intensity of high end squeals and attempted white noise was unbearable. Ears were covered, the crowd physically gasping, it was relentless, horrible, unlistenable. Confused and tortured, many, and I do mean many, hit the exits. We tried, we wanted it to be as powerful as ‘Soon’ but we were defeated too, avoiding the surge for refunds at the box office window on the way out. This wasn’t art, it was insult.

Great single though.

Primal Scream

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Listen: Swastika Eyes / Primal Scream

Yesterday’s Super Furry Animals post had me recollecting those last few years of Creation Records’ partnership with Sony. During summer ’99, Alan McGee was shopping for one of the US outlets to release the upcoming XTRMNTR album by Primal Scream. So he brought Bobby Gillespie into the New York office to play me a few tracks. As often as Primal Scream had changed direction, so too did I change my interest in them. Given their most recent sound at that point was directly influenced by Rolling Stones style blues rock and despite the resulting single ‘Rocks’ achieving by far Primal Scream’s biggest US radio breakthrough yet, this Southern boogie woogie couldn’t have been further from my musical palate in ’99. So I was rather uncomfortable about wasting Bobby’s time. Alan insisted otherwise, that instead I would love where XTRMNTR was heading, being well aware of my insatiable taste for dance, techno and the like.

Was he ever right. This album wiped the floor with all their previous material including SCREAMADELICA. Most critics still attach to that one, and in the bigger picture, I suppose I agree. But for Primal Scream specifically, nothing touches XTRMNTR. Alan suggested I visit Bobby and Andrew Innes at their Primrose Hill studio to hear the finished version. The place was jammed tight, and jamming out. Besides listening to the album, we found plenty to agree on in general: The Cramps, Suicide, and a bottomless pit of records. Easy conversation when it came to musical history, plus any reason to go to London.

‘Swastika Eyes’, the single and album version produced by the band and Jagz Kooner, actually takes my preference over The Chemical Brothers’ mix, also included on XTRMNTR. In fact, my belief was this track could perform as well as ‘Block Rockin’ Beats’ or ‘Setting Sun’ had for The Chemical Brothers at radio in the States, with Primal Scream coming off the back of their biggest US airplay record as well. Suspiciously, senior management at Columbia agreed after a quick conversation of presenting said theory. The green light was on.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, ‘Swastika Eyes’, by then at #22 in the UK Pop chart, was too controversial, too insulting, to issue here. Huh, this from the company that changed music with Bob Dylan? This from the company that was having platinum success with Nas? Honestly guys, was spineless suddenly part of the label’s character description? Now in hindsight, having dropped 50 Cent around then too, it clearly was play it safe.

Turns out the whole idea was moving forward based on the Southern boogie style of ‘Rocks’, and when so and so finally got round to listening to the music, it was easier to stubbornly remain rooted in the musical past than embrace tomorrow. Indeed, a policy good for Our Lady Peace, but not Primal Scream.

Keith Wood over at Astralwerks, who released the album in America, didn’t have any such corporate trappings.

The Future Sound Of London

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

Listen: We Have Explosive (7″ Edit) / The Future Sound Of London FSOLExplosive.mp3

May ’97 in London had a few really rainy, cold days. You’d have sworn it was February. Perfect, just as England should be.

I know, I was there. I think it was a trip to hear the new Primal Scream album, maybe meet with them about releasing it through Columbia via Creation Records’ deal with us. And just by coincidence, The Cramps were playing two nights at The Astoria….just by coincidence. Working at major labels, where the entire senior staff were asleep at the wheel musically, did have it’s benefits.

‘We Have Explosive’ had peaked at #12 a few weeks earlier, and was still all over Radio 1. Can vividly remember shivering in Gary Crowley’s car, as he unsuccesfully atempted to coax heat out of the dashboad, on our way to Jakes from the Sony Building, via Marble Arch on a nasty day in nasty traffic, and this one lifting the mood 1000%.

Not only one of the best artist names ever, turns out FSOL were also tops at documenting a precise musical snapshot of that very moment in time.


Monday, December 21st, 2009

BassomaticPS, Bassomatic, William Orbit, Mark Ronson

Listen: Fascinating Rhythym / Bassomatic BassomaticFascinatingRhythm.mp3

William Orbit, the guy behind, or should I say, the guy who basically was Bassomatic, became the most in demand remixer/producer after ‘Fascinating Rhythm’ hit. For good reason. Despite it’s inability to live beyond the acid house goes mainstream period of 1990, when it peaked at #9 in the UK, it’s a pretty fantastic song. The accompanying SET THE CONTROLS FOR THE HEART OF THE BASS takes the prize as best-ever tongue in cheek album title, and quite frankly one that made me want to hear it. I did. I own the disc, but can’t remember if it was as great as the title implies. It may well be, but I didn’t give it much of a chance. Someday.

I was in London when ‘Fascinating Rhythm’ came on Radio 1. Gary Crowley was driving us along Holland Park Avenue from St. Peter’s Square during a bumper to bumper Friday rush hour in late September. We’d been to the pub and were desperate to get to Brown’s and see Jake. It was pouring but Oxford Street was hopping. And the radio was jamming with KLF, Andy Weatherall’s version of Primal Scream, Orbital, The Stone Roses and Deee-lite. Seems like all England wanted to do was dance. We got caught up. Almost didn’t want to arrive, it was like one great track after the other.

You’d return home and I learned as soon as that plane touched down at JFK, it was time to leave the great party on the radio behind. Back to the US airwaves it was.

William Orbit was then much like Mark Ronson is now. Had a few monsters so along comes all the politically correct and connected acts paying big bucks for the same magic wand to elevate them up the credibilty and financial ladder. These things always end in tears of course but some great remixes came out along that path.

Back to square one. Nothing by Bassomatic topped ‘Fascinating Ryhthm’ that I know of. And that is perfectly okay.