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EVIL HEAT - A REVIEW OF PRIMAL SCREAM'S NEW ALBUM



"It is one of the more eagerly anticipated albums of this year, unless you're a Bruce Springsteen or Coldplay fan that is, possibly. The music press, consumed by the desire to categorise as usual, have dubbed it 'Punk Disco' (surely oxymoronic, or perhaps just moronic), whereas Alan McGee compared it to Stockhausen."

by Andrew Stevens

COPYRIGHT © 2002, 3 A.M. MAGAZINE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


"The inhabitants of sick city have gained more than we'll ever have."

2002 marks the 30th anniversary of the Angry Brigade trial, the show trial involving Britain's own home-grown radical terrorists, a somewhat less homicidally-inclined Baader-Meinhof Gang.

It also marks Primal Scream's return with Evil Heat, after a two-year absence and on a new major label. It couldn't have come at a more opportune moment, for both the band and the record-buying public.

Over the years, the Scream have become a haven, fusing the talents of former Stone Rose Mani, My Bloody Valentine recluse uber-noise merchant Kevin Shields and now Jim Reid, former Mary Chain frontman and long-time Glasgow sidekick of Bobby Gillespie.

Since the release of 2000's Xtrmntr, Bobby Gillespie has been seen attending Suicide and David Johansen gigs in London, getting bottled off at J Mascis concerts and splitting up with former Elastica frontwoman Justine Frischman very publicly at former Creation Boss Alan McGee's Radio 4 night. This kind of behaviour has seen the unflattering tag of 'Met Bar star-fuckers' attached to the band [by a correspondent to the NME], surely exacerbated on this album by the inclusion of supermodel Kate Moss on their version of Lee Hazelwood's 'Some Velvet Morning'.

But the Scream have always been a collective, look at the hands-on production by George Clinton of their vastly under-rated 'Give Out But Don't Give Up' in 1994, or the inclusion of original Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock on 1997's homage to Richard Sarafian's 'Vanishing Point' and the inclusion of New Order's Barney Sumner on Xtrmntr. Or the vast number of remixers on-hand for different versions of the same tracks on each LP from The Orb's Alex Paterson to Adrian Sherwood through to The Chemical Brothers and the Two Lone Swordsman.

The cult of celebrity this time round is reserved for Robert Plant and Kate Moss, the former providing harmonica on the 'The Lord is My Shotgun' (the title of which would not appear out of place on a Butthole Surfers LP) and the latter acting as chanteuse on 'Some Velvet Morning', a silky duet over an electronic tapestry.

Unlike previous Scream albums, each being vastly different from the last, there is a lineage between this and 2000's Xtrmntr. For instance, 'City', a Kevin Shields guitar-driven track follows on from that album's Accelerator. In brief, nothing short of a few steps away from feedback heaven. As is 'Skull X', which advises us to 'keep a shotgun under the bed' and asks 'baby' to 'do it again'. Oh alright, if you put it that way Bobby.

It is one of the more eagerly anticipated albums of this year, unless you're a Bruce Springsteen or Coldplay fan that is, possibly. The music press, consumed by the desire to categorise as usual, have dubbed it 'Punk Disco' (surely oxymoronic, or perhaps just moronic), whereas Alan McGee compared it to Stockhausen. Like Xtrmntr (I might stop saying that sometime soon), it veers from feedback frenzy to all kinds of electronica. 'Deep Hit of Morning Sun' is just that, a distorted array of confusing vocals over an in and out again track.

The Krautrocking 'Autobahn 66' is what Kraftwerk might sound like if Baader-Meinhof broke into the studios circa 1977 and held them to ransom, making them entertain them while they were at it.

Recent single 'Miss Lucifer' gives the album its title in one of the lyrics, alongside 'sexy girl/dressed in black/leather boots/Nazi hat'. Controversially for some, also included is 'Rise' (original title: 'Bomb the Pentagon'), which led to hype surrounding the band's fictitious dropping by an American record label they weren't even signed to. Here we get Bobby G's anti-globalization ethos at us until we're blue in the face.

The attack on vowels that was Xtrmntr (look, we're almost at the end now) dismayed some Scream fans, mainly those Noelrockers who wanted either 'Loaded' and 'Movin On Up' because they were out round about the same time as the Stone Roses and the Happy Mondays or a return to 'Rocks' and 'Jailbird' because they were out around the same time as Oasis broke through. Evil Heat is likely to disappoint such fair-weather Scream fans even more, filled as it is with Neu!-like tunes and noise.

Those who dug the more political direction (Chumbawamba, ahem, amongst them) will find solace in this record and perhaps the Angry Brigade might consider their years in prison and exile worth it if this is what happened. Result.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrew Stevens is a political scientist at Goldsmiths College, apparently. He likes listening to Suicide, the Electric Prunes and Tindersticks, and reading trashy fiction.



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