Thursday, May 18, 2006

Primal Scream's turning point

They dabbled in 12-string, Byrds-like shimmer on their debut, Sonic Flower Grove, then kicked out the jams MC5-style on their eponymous follow-up. Any sustained success, however, continued to elude them, as neither album was warmly received by critics or the public.

Yes, "no hopers" was a label often bandied about when discussing Primal Scream. And by the summer of 1989, the band members were, as Jeff Barrett of Creation Records succinctly put it, unsure of where they wanted to go -- or even if going there was worth the effort.

Enter the rave scene.

The band fell hard for the subculture, like countless others, on account of the cheap and abundant drugs, the no-closed-doors-to-anyone philosophy, and the euphoric hedonism. Frontman Bobby Gillespie became a regular fixture at Brighton's Shoom and Zap Club, as well as the city's frequent warehouse parties, while band chemist (and guitarist) Andrew Innes delved into ecstasy. With E, Innes realized, your inhibitions melted away, anything was possible as evident by the growing indie-meets-dance esthetic, and so it was his idea to approach new chum Andrew Weatherall -- a former bricklayer, current DJ, and one-time re-mixer for Happy Mondays' ("Hallelujah") -- to rework a track from Primal Scream, "I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have."

Weatherall kept the song's bassline, piano, horn sections, and some of the percussion. The new drum loop was culled from an Italian bootleg mix of Edie Brickell's "What I Am." He also added Gillespie singing a line from Robert Johnson's "Terraplane Blues" before crafting the now-famous opening by dropping in some Peter Fonda dialogue from the biker flick The Wild Angels. (Which was nicked, in a way -- the lines had been used by Richard Norris and Genesis P-Orridge two years earlier on their Jack The Tab LP.)

In December, Weatherall played the recently completed remix, now dubbed "Loaded," at London's Subterania. According to legend, the DJ phoned a bleary Gillespie at 4 o'clock in the morning to elatedly tell him about the crowd's incredible reaction. The landmark dance-rock hybrid was eventually released in February of 1990.

The rest, of course, is history.

Hear it for yourself. Download: "Loaded" by Primal Scream. And as a bonus, here's the original track: "I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have."