100 Greatest Albums of the 90’s: #25

Primal Scream – Screamadelica
One day in the magical kingdom of Britain three noble men with long-ish hair and round-ish glasses were having a troublesome quarrel. Their slight tiff was to decide whether they should purchase Vietnamese, Chinese or Indian. A nearby journalist suggested that they just grab a burger each. The men swarmed upon the man and spake unto him “It’s heroin we’re discussing! Not food!” These were the men of Primal Scream, and great men and true they certainly were. It’s no lie that titles like ‘I’m Comin’ Down’, ‘Higher Than The Sun’ and ‘Loaded’ don’t leave much to the imagination, and it’s even truer, putting it more baldly, that these guys really really liked drugs. They liked drugs a lot, so it’s fitting that they created probably the best advert for illicit substances of the last twenty years. ‘Screamadelica’ refuses to be unhappy. This is absolute euphoria; an uplifting trip. It starts gently with the gospelized classic rock of ‘Movin’ On Up’ and slowly picks you up and up. The swirling clubscape of ‘Slip Inside This House’ (originally by the 13th Floor Elevators, who liked drugs too) is pure psychedelic dance; ‘Don’t Fight It Feel It’ distils everything half good about acid house into 7 giddy minutes; then comes the true highlight. ‘Higher Than The Sun’ is an aural hallucinogen that makes you feel weightless, blending dub, sci-fi soundtracks, echoing sound effects and a vocal that sounds more peacefully content than Oliver Reed with a new hip flask, with lyrics like “What I got in my head you can’t buy, steal or borrow”. Advertising as good as that and Glenn Beck will be dropping acid to see what all the fuss is about. It’s greatest strength is its diversity: there’s the epic and slowly-slowly-building one (‘Come Together’), the four-chord bubbling trumpet-n-guitar explosion (‘Loaded’), the lilting summer-of-love love song ‘Damaged’ and the stargazing, drowsy drift out of orbit (‘I’m Comin’ Down’). It’s so hard to classify; just when you think it’s a rock record, it turns into a dance record, and just when you think it’s a dance record it turns into an acid-gospel record. You’d think that a record as lovable and influential as this one wouldn’t sound unique anymore. Well it does. And it was good. Amen.

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