On a Jagger Tip!
Dane traitors? Pah! Who needs that techno stuff when you could have The Rolling Sly and the Family Stones?
Give Out But Don't Give Up
Scratchin' like a tomcat/Got a monkey on my
back/Got to push and pull/And howl like a
wolf/Drive my Cadillac/I've got medication
honey/I've got wings to fy...('Jailbird')
The Atlantic Story is an otherwise tediously worthy
documentary made unmissable by one single moment,
when Keith Richards asked what he remembers about the
recording of Sticky Fingers'. I don't know, man," he
croaks. But I had this really cool pair of snakeskin boots.
Cut to grainy footage of Muscle Shoals Studios, the
tortured blues of Wild Horses' walling out of the monitors.
As the camera pans across the room we see that Keith is
Indeed wearing a really cool pair of snakeskin boots.
Bobby Gillespie will never find himself in a situation
where all he can remember about making a record is his
footwear of the moment. But, rest assured, he's already
bought himself some snakeskin boots, just in case.
It's easy to smirk at Gillespie's methodical application
to his Rock N' Roll GCSE (Part I: Being A Rolling Stone),
but you have to admire his dedication. Many of the world's
great records are now being made either by dance
technicians whose personalities have been stunted by
studio confinement or by introverted indie loons. But
Bobby's pursuit of old-fashioned hedonism makes him an
idol-in-waiting, a sure-fire recipient of the Brian Jones cross
with Mars Bar clusters, a real-life rock star.
Which Is why, after achieving monolithic success by wholeheartedly embracing
futuristic dance music and making Screamadelica' in 1991, he, Innes, Throbert
and the rest of them have thrown tall in again forfull4ilt, old-school rock.
Only this time, after their first two albums of half-arsed attempts to reproduce the sound of The Byrds, the MC5, Big Star and, of course, the Stones, they've decamped to Memphis to do it properiy. with the aid of veteran Atlantic producer Tom Dowd, the Memphis Horns, the Muscle Shoals rhythm section and George Clinton they've come back with a record apparently
made by The Rolling Sly And The Family Stones. It is uniquely, tremendously,
fabulously derivative - in the best possible way.
If Rocks' has already convinced you that the new-
model Scream are despicable dance traitors, then the rest
of this album will only confirm it. If not, to begin with, the
things you'll play over and over again are the things that
have all the demented swagger of the best records Mick
and Keefnever made. 'Jailbird' is Rocks' only better. It's a
recording so perfectly rightthat you'll be convinced you
must have written away for it and constructed it to your own
specifications from a small ad in the back of The Sunday
Express. Build your own rock record kit Includes the
words 'Cadillac', medication', the phrase walk-it-like-you-
talk-it', an optional call-and-return chorus and a blistering
KeefRiff(TM)... The album opener, 'Jailbird' kicks off with
one of the great false starts of all time, a live hip hop drum
beat recorded just so quietly that you'll have jacked up the
volume at precisely the point it stops and the real thing
starts - all tearing chords, wailing female choruses and
howling rock cliches.
But there's a lot more to Give Out...' than that. There
are, for instance, the gorgeous country-rock ballads which
borrow from the other half of the Stones' repertoire, like
the burned-junkie and pedal-steel paean 'Big Jet Plane', or
slow-burning raw soul of Denise Johnson's solo effort,
Free'. Then there's Struttin". This is the George Clinton-
mixed doodle 'Funky Jam' - the weakest track here -
remodel led extensively by Paul Weller co-conspirator
Brendan Lynch. Not a remix in the Weatherall sense, of
course - where everything is stripped out and streamlined
for the dancefloor- but a bizarre and fantastic sprawl
which, in keeping with the rest of the album, takes
inspiration from a tradition of 'real' music, recorded
properly'. in this case, it's a Joe Meek-style fiesta of home
electronics kit rewiring, filled with the kind of noises that
were deemed cosmically spacetastic in 1963. Ridiculous
phasing, no vocals, Bontempi organs, distant strings,
terrific new bassline and the kind of whooshing, pinging
BBC Radiophonic Workshop special effects that used to
indicate Patrick Troughton's TARDIS was experiencing
technical difficulties - it goes on for a good ten minutes,
has a false ending and is such a convincing piece of retr0-
fitted futurism that it'll have you once again believing in
Terylene space leisure suits and cities on the moon.
Similarly, the title track opens up with clinking cowbells
and haphazard scratching, and then resolves into a
shambolically weaving slab of half-finished post-coital funk
hung around reversed drum and bass sounds, a simple
hom figure and low, groaning organ chords. Bobby's
completely absent, replaced by Denise Johnson trading
phrases with the blowzy, heavy-i idded drawling of George
Clinton clearly operating on the ranges of consciousness.
It suggests what Sly Stone's regally ruinied There's A
Riot Goin' On' LP would sound
like if it had been recorded yesterday.
This is part of the beauty of Give Out...'. While not
quite as grittily authentlc as Gillespie would hope, it is a
superb, artful simulation of the past that's even better
than the real thing, an animatronics version of everything
you could want from the years 1970 to, well, 1972, in one
conveniently accessible package. Like the devoted and
reverent tans that they are, the Primals have got everything
right down to the last detail: from the audible amp whine
detectable before Innes is about to contribute a rift, to the
spot-on hom fills and the ragged drum chaos which closes
the 'Tumbling Dice'-a-like 'Call On Me'.
Zig-zagging from one style to another, this album forms
an epic slalom through the history of the world's great
soundtracks to excess. There's no need to struggle
through all those Faces albums trying simultaneously to
find the good one and convince yourself that Rod Stewart
is alright after all; no necessity to have the zip on the front
of 'Sticky Fingers' tearing the covers of the rest of your
records; no point in spending hours attuning yourself to the
right physical and chemical state to believe Sly Md The
Family Stone's 'Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)' to
be a work of genius: it's all here.
But if that was all it was, Primal Scream would just
have become The Black Crowes with bigger basslines.
What matters lathe way they've filtered their homages,
Influences and straight-up ripoffs into something unique.
The mixing of Gillespie's wasted, cracking Glaswegian wail
with backing choruses of horribly misplaced riverdeep
soulful devotion, on everything from 'Jailbird' to the superb
hidden' final track 'Everybody Needs Somebody', steeps
the whole thing in more sultry humidity than a Southem
Comfort ad shot in a Louisiana brothel In high summer.
Who have they been mixing it with? Everybody who counts
from one of the top drawers of musical history, and r~
routlngthe Muscle Shoals swamplust via Strathclyde has
resulted in an album to equal Screamadelica'.
It doesn't make any attempt to equal that LP's
assimilation of cutting edge dance music, nor should it.
Because the Scream's preparedness to embrace such
apparently alarmingly unfashionable rock n' roll and soul
attitudes indicates a wealth of exactly the kind of sneering
insubordination needed in a year apparently othe
dominated bya lethal cocktail of slim leather ties Blondle
Baides, an imminent BA Robertson revival and ambient
house albums. It's also the kind of attitude that makes
them reai4ife, gold seal Olympic length rock stars And
incidentally, very, very cool
Originally Appeared in August 1994 issue of Select Copyright © Select.