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On a Jagger Tip!

Dane traitors? Pah! Who needs that techno stuff when you could have The Rolling Sly and the Family Stones?

PRIMAL SCREAM
Give Out But Don't Give Up
CREATION

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.
spacer 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.
spacer 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.
spacer 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.
spacer 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.
spacer 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.
spacer 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.
spacer 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'.
spacer 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.
spacer 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'.
spacer 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 indeed.5/5
ADAM HIGGIN-BOTHAM

Originally Appeared in August 1994 issue of Select Copyright © Select.

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