Saturday 20 February 2016

Primal Scream - Give Out But Don't Give Up

Conventional wisdom states 'Screamadelica' is Primal Scream's best album.  Whilst the content of the Acid House/Indie crossover album is indeed spectacular, spaced out and can transport the listener to another world, it doesn't top the list.
If not 'Screamadelica', then surely 'Vanishing Point' is the high-water mark?
OK then, it must be 'XTRMNTR'?

Nope, my choice is the Scream album that garners the least love.
Coming after 'Screamadelica', it wrong footed a lot of fans by being an american roots/1970s classic rock album.
Rememebr, this was released in the early knockings of Britpop, and Primal Scream should've been one of the recognised leaders.  In terms of attitude, delivery and performance it met the criteria, but having a Confederate flag ion your album cover just didn't sit right with the mood of the time.
It's relatively poor performance meant the band almost ended up splitting (there were obviously other factors), and it was to be another 3 years before they re-grouped (with Mani from The Stone Roses on bass duties) and released the monumental dub/rock/electro/experimental 'Vanishing Point'.

In short, 'Give Out But Don't Give Up' Rocks like a b*stard, and is funky as f*ck!
and here's why ...

In early 1992, the bands released the Dixie Narco EP.  This EP opened with "Movin On Up" from 'Screamadelica' and closed with the track titled "Screamadelica" (which didn't make it onto the album).  The tracks in between ("Stone My Soul" and a cover of Denis Wilsons "Carry Me Home" gave a pointer where the band were going next, having that swampy, sludgy, rootsy, 1970s Rolling Stones/American Rock sound.  "Screamadelica" was no doubt the main draw for this EP, and despite not being on the album, sounds very much like it should've been (there's even a touch of Blaxploitation Film Soundtrack about the track, just to add further confusion to the listeners ears).

In the same vein the "Movin On Up" is probably the best song The Stones never wrote, this album opens with two more contenders in the shape of "Jailbird" and "Rocks" (with the latter going one stage further and actually nicking a Stones song title too).  Stones comparisons continue with "I'm Gonna Cry Myself Blind", a slow paced ballad with backing vocal from Deneice Williams (who pops up on lead vocal on three tracks later, most notably "Free").
And then George Clinton rides in, and "Funky Jam" does what it says on the tin - rock guitar, funk drums and bass, with a hollering vocal, and all sounding like a cleaned up jam session.
There is more yearning on "Big Jet Plane" and "Struttin" is a damn near perfect Rock/Funk crossover.  And it don't let up - there is more swampy blues ("Sad and Blue", "I'll Be There For You") punctuated with in-your-face funk (title track "Give Out But Don't Give Up").
It is a long album, at just under 60 minutes, but there is nothing here that you (a) want to skip. or (b)wish was just that bit shorter.

After the success of 'Screamadelica', maybe it was too much of a change of direction, but all the way through the band sound like they're enjoying the funky abandon.  More power to them, and yah boo sucks to anyone who didn't "get" it.
Besides, it can't have been too much of a departure because the band went down this path again with 2006s 'Riot City Blues' - this time the critics were on their side though, and that album is hailed as an integral part of the Primal Scream canon


The Rolling Stones are not the only band comparison for "Rocks" - Faces were also mentioned as a reference point.  To neatly bring everything full circle, Rod Stewart covered the song on his 1998 covers album "When We Were the New Boys"

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