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Freeze!

Story by Andrew Perry
Photos by Simon Fowler

Not a snakeskin boot in sight. None of the trad rock that smeared all over 'Give Out But Don't Give Up'. Headfuck Dub, gleaming psychedelica, six heads firmly in the clouds and a bass player who used to be in The Stone Roses And you thought Primal Scream were all over.... Bobby Gillespie has his back to the sun. In the small balcony garden of the north London pub, he sips from a seasonally fitting juice drink while, behind him, the combined expanses of Regent's Park and Primrose Hill absorb their first decent rays of the year. There are hundreds of kids out there playing footie with renewed vigour (muddy knees, jumpers for goal posts, hmmm...) and just over the road, about six teams' worth of under 15 girls' hockey talent are snaking their way over the zebra crossing for an afternoon of running about in shirt skirts and hurting each other's ankles.

Chalk Farm may be coming out of the darkness, but our Bob remains with his back to it all, unshaven, unkempt and unflinchingly masked by a huge pair of bug-eyed shades. In all fairness, he's making remarkably good sense for a man who hasn't been to bed for two days. With enviable animation, he chats with the debris of last night's playback party for Paul Weller's new album 'Heavy Soul'.

"Aye, it's a proper album," he tells it's producer, Brendan Lynch, probably not for the first time. "Short, punchy tunes. Hard as fuck. That's what he does best."

Except for keyboard maestro Martin Duffy, none of the rest of Primal Scream are on hand. Andrew Innes, one half of the Scream's axe duality, scuttles in briefly wearing a Brazil shirt but soon disappears, his head bowed to the sunlight. The other half, 'Throb' Young and the band's new bassist, Gary 'Mani' Mounfield, have yet to return from Portugal after the Porto-Man Utd game. "Hahahaha," cackles Gillespie unsympathetically, "they're still out there dodging the rubber bullets with the rest of the fellas."

Duffy it seems, has been carrying the baton for absent friends. Ever since he joined The Charlatans, filling in for the deceased Rob Collins, the pocket-sized Brummie has enjoyed the ques tionable luxury of being in two of the hardest partying bands in Britain. After finding uncon sciousness elusive this morning, he simply went off to a hotel across town to join the band that Innes now sarkily refers to as his "new mates". In the end, with their new full-time replacement in tow, the Charlies had to send Duffy back home because they had to straighten up for their live performance on TFI Friday.

It's sort of heart-warming to know that though the seasons, along with the crap Britpop bands, may come and go, the Scream are just as you'd expect to find them - scattered, battered and holding it together in the face of superhuman chemical odds. Less endearing, however, is when Gillespie marches off for "a minute" that turns into about three hours. This is roughly what happened last time Select tried to interview him.

EVENTUALLY, THE ROSES MADE THEIR 'SECOND COMING'. After ten years in the wilderness, Paul Weller final ly regained his stride with 'Wildwood'. Who knows: maybe one day Oasis will fall, only one day to reward guardians of The Falth with that killer comeback album.

Bands that are worthy of your patience, of your adoration, of The Faith - they don't come ten a penny. To the above line-up of undying idols, we should add just one more name. Primal Scream. Whatever evils they may be seen to have commit- ted in the past five years, you should be in no doubt that, in the next couple of months, they will be back, back, back - being inspirational, messing with your head, skating on a thin ice of decency and making everyone else sound like John Shuttleworth. Any day now, they will be releasing 'Kowalski', the most astonishing, ouflandish single of the year so far. And there will be plenty more where that came from. In short, the Scream will be rewarding that Falth in spades.

At the beginning of 1996, Select unanimously voted 'Screamadelica' the best album of the decade so far. A year or so later, only a fool would want to revise that position. In the face of every thing from the two Oasis albums and Shaun Ryder's best two LPs to 'Nevermind' and 'Blue Lines', it's still the last record that everyone - even goths - would have to agree actually said some thing about the times we live in.

More than five years since it came out, and now it seems to say more than ever. At every turn, you hear premonitions of dance culture's ever spiralling hedonism. You glimpse its attendant void of fuckedness on 'Higher Than The Sun'. You even hear the craving for simple, neo-classical rock 'n' roll pleasures - from back when Weller was unsigned, Ocean Colour Scene were still baggy and Noel was out toadying in Estonia for the Carpets.

'Screamadellca' had everything and, to the vast majority of its disciples, the Scream quickly threw the whole lot away agaln. Since then, fending their corner has been a hard task indeed.

As they went on to pursue the more traditional elements of 'Screamadelica' on 'Give Out But Don't Give Up; they left in their wake a feverish cult for whom the old vision was something to live by, to raise your voice about, to hold up as true and correct.

Sure, 'Give Out...' did succeed in bringing the word 'soul' back into common parlance, but being indie Britaln's first unabashedly rock-beast album since punk (abiding image: Throb's crotch loom- ing forth on the cover of 'Jailbird'), it did little else but soak up the critical flak from the same tightarses who, but a few months later, would fall hook, line and sinker for 'Definitely Maybe'. One thing it certainly didn't do was sell. After s monstously dispiriting trawl around America as support to Depeche Mode (see Select September 1994), the Scream were down, out and seemingly hell-bent on self-destruction. Their radio plugger Gary Blackburn attempted to salvage something from the campalgn by blagging them a Top Of The Pops appearance scarcely earned by their chart position for '(I'm Gonna) Cry Myself Blind'. The band famously blew it out, on the grounds that being flown into Luton Airport just wasn't rock 'n' roll enough.

Since then, they've been pretty much missing, presumed addicted to something horrible. Rumours slowly circulated that the Scream were now heading for an all-out Northern Soul album, news that was backed up by their bowling-shoe- stomping cover of 'Understanding; featuring vocals by '60s pop diva P P Arnold, for a Small Faces tribute album. When, early in '96, sources close to the band announced they'd heard another eight sketchy tracks in that vein, that was almost a cue to mourn the band's commercial - and, more something happened. Maybe the band realised themselves that what soul evangelism would earn them was a future of minority respect: headline gigs at the Astoria, Mojo interviews and the obliga tory hats-off from the Dadrock fraterity. And so, in the grand tradition that stretches back to 1988 and their mutation from The Byrds into The MC5 in the space of a few months, the Scream seeming ly dropped everything and began exercising the kind of Dexys-type stylistic volte-face that, in the past, has had them labelled everytldng from acid house visionaries to dance traitors.

THERE HAVE BEEN SEVERAL SIGNPOSTS ALONG THE WAY that all sense of logical progression had gone out the window in favour of devil-may-be-arsed exploration. It all started with the movie premiere of Trainspotring, where the band were the person al guests of Irvine Welsh, who'd asked them to provide a track for the soundtrack LP. Afterwards, they all retired to The Ship in Wardour Street, got steaming drunk and ended up getting chucked out for lewd behaviour. The party lurched off towards Heavenly's offices, where one employee was on the phone and, hearing the racket outside, held the receiver out of the window so her mate could hear the mob below chanting. "Fuck you! Fuck you!"

"That's Primal Scream with Irvine Welsh," she beamed, at which point her mate started record ing the whole shameful scene as her answerphone message. A few days later, tunes got hold of the tape and the band began using it as an inspiration for their soundtrack tune.

So that explains the closing 30 seconds of 'Trainspotting; but less explicable is the preceding ten ruinutes of music, which they devised with none other than Dr Screamadelica, Andrew Weatherall, at the controls. With perhaps a faint nod to his 'Dub Symphony' mix of 'Higher Than The Sun;, he turned the band's increasingly groove-led modus operandi into the kind of widescreen psychedelic dubscape that might readily have come out on a label like Ninja Tune.

Amid all the clamour for Iggy Pop and Underworld, the track was greeted by a rather puzzled silence, but the Scream camp was revitalised and - never too brisk in getting under way with a new record - the band pursued their new lead. But, as Weatherall was getting deeply involved with his own staunchly techno project, Two Lone Swordsmen, they were on their own.

The second pointer came in response to anoth er compilation offer, this time in honour of Euro '96, for which they teamed up with On-U Sounds dub wizard Adrian Sherwood who, in the late '80s, made probably the only decent album ever to be inspired by our national game. 'The English Disease' pitted terrace chants and TV commentary against brain-crushingly abstract dub music. The only difference on the equally perplexing 'The Big ManAnd The Scream Team Meet The Barmy Army Uptown' was Mr Irvine Welsh, whose leery rants against both teams and supporters got the tune banned from the official tournament LP by the FA.

Their eyes re-opened by Sherwood's toxic mixology; the Scream were, come May/June, knocking out their crucial album, but to the out side world, the only further sign of life came in low-key remixes of Ruby and The Aloof - a prac tice they'd not been too embroiled in since '91. Then, of course, towards the end of the year came the announcement of Mani's free transfer from The Stone Roses, and, like The Church of England in times of war, The Faith began to welcome back its lapsed congregation.

None of this, however, can have prepared the world for 'Kowalski'. It's less a taster for the album, more an open threat to anyone foolish enough to catch its eye. Just like the first time you heard 'Higher Than The Sun', you wonder what on earth you're listening to. Riddled with nutso dialogue sampled from the movie Vanishing Point, it also features Mani's first killer bassline for the Scream, the sound of chainsaws going off in Satan's echo chamber, and Bobby Gillespie capping the air of menace with the whispered vocal of a man who hasn't been to bed for a week. Which he probably hadn't. The overall effect is like helicopter rotor blades threshing your brain.

When tapes first circulated some weeks ago, the initial reaction was, 'This can't be the single: it's too much.' In the meantime, it's rarely been off the stereo, or the radio, starting some six weeks ahead of release. Having sworn never to work with the band again, plugger Gary Blackburn took one listen and came back on board. Given the odd strategic TV appearance, h&s talking seriously about 'Kowalski' going in at Number One.

After a debut airing on The Evening Session, Steve Lamacq commented that if the whole album's like that, his neighbours had better move out right away. Last time we spoke to him, he said they'd already booked their flights to Melbourne. Everyone's talking about the Scream again, and they'll continue to do so once they've heard that album, affectionately named 'Vanishing Point'.

Rearing it pre-release, however, is not the usual run-of-the-mill, the-tape's-in-the-post exercise. Fiercely proud of their efforts and in a mood of biz balting malice, the band aren't handing it out to anybody. When someone at Creation's parent company Sony sent out a couple of tapes, they nearly got fired. Select had to make countless trips to the bands publicist just to be played a few tracks.

It was well, well worth it. You want zeitgeist? One track on the LP, a cover of 'Motorhead' by Motorhead, has its first verse sung through a Darth Vader mask.

BOBBY GILLESPIE DOESN'T LIKE SITTING IN PUBS. STILL wearing those all-extinguishing black shades, he finally returns to pick up Duffy - who's still going strong - and lead the way down the road to the band's studio.

'Studio; in the son-of-hi-tech '90s, means a reception desk with uniformed staff and a bloke with a tie on and B clipboard leading you off to the 'unit' you require. It means a whole load of up-to-the-minute equipment that would get you out of the Earth's atmosphere if anybody knew how to work it. It means air conditioning, pale grey decor and a selection of herbal teas. Tidiness. Service. Forte Travelodge. It means dead from the neck down.

The Primal Scream of 'Kowalski', by contrast, are in a very real sense a garage band. So, their studio is a garage, with an adjoining spare room and toilet. It was here that the whole of 'Vanishing Point' was recorded, and it looks like the whole band slept here for a year as well. No wonder Mani calls it "The Bunker". It's difficult to make anything out, because there's hardly any lighting, and you're quite likely to stamp on a vintage 1960s guitar that's lying out of its case on the floor. Weller was in here the other day playing Who songs on the Rickenbacker, windmill action and all.

The main room, containing just a small drum kit, a few amps and guitars, is little bigger than the stage at The Camden Falcon. The next room is even smaller, and full of dated analogue key boards, computer screens you recognise from crap old movies about the future and a 24-track mhting desk which would appear to have actual dust from 1973 on it.

The WC isn't so much unhygienic as just hall of rubbish and broken glass. "We often shove the guitar amp in there," Gillespie candidly reveals. "You always get a better amp sound in the toilet"

You have to duck to avoid the Airfix models of Stukas and Messerschmitts dangling overhead. Ditto for the Celtic and Manchester United scarves knotted to what used to be a neon striplight.

Like someone's bedsit, the walls and ceiling of evety room are plastered with cuttings, photos, mirrors and mementos. "That's the Reichstag as the Red Army took Berlin," Gilliespie points out, ever the host. "That's two Japs saluting with the headline, I Apologise For The War. That's the Tartan Army when they took Wembley in 1977..."

Pictures of such diverse figures as Spike Milligan, Queen Boadicea, Robert De Niro (in Mean Streets), Peter Cushing and Diego Maradona ("our favourite football player") mingle with an unlikely galaxy of stars from the world of reggae - Lee Perry; Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Joe Hill from Culture. Perhaps in their honour, there presides an air of hushed spiritual quest.

"This place wasnae built for music," Bobby understates. "It's a dance studio or something, that's why you've got all these fucking mirrors everywhere. But if the musicians are good, you can record music anywhere, man. Stax, Hi, Can's Innerspace - they were all old cinemas.

"The great thing is," he continues, "Innes, ever since I've known him, has always managed to make records in his bedroom. A lot of 'Screamadelica' tracks like 'Higher Than The Sun' and 'Don't Fight It, Feel It' - recording for them started in his council flat in the Isle of Dogs. There was a bedroom there that was disused, where we hid all our equipment. I'd sleep in there sometimes."

'Vanishing Point' was made in the same low life atmosphere and, by and large, Andrew Innes was in charge. From the second room, he'd engi neer and orchestrate the jams going off next door. Most of the LP arose from live improvisation. "Then later on," Bobby continues, "we'd layer other sounds and loops over the top, and the vocals. The whole thing's very symphonic. If you could hear on these tapes (he gestures towards a heap of cassettes with fag ash on them) all these different sounds are on them."

Dispensing with the instrumental restrictions of the last album, you might find Throb on key boards (as, incidentally, you did on 'Higher Than The Sun'), or Innes on bass, or Duffy playing melodica - that's him on 'Trainspotting'. There's quite a lot of sitar on it, as well as Indian percus sion instrument, the tabla (remember the gatefold pic from 'Screamadelica'?). You'll also hear a bassoon, a theremin and drums going through a wah-wah pedal. Shed Seven it ain't.

As on 'Tralnspotting' and 'Kowalski; most of the rhythm tracks are from a drum machine, while bassists include Mani, sometime Weller cohort Marco Nelson and Glen Matlock ("The guy who wrote Anarchy In The UK;" reminds Minister of Truth Gillespie). Denise Johnson, on the other hand, "never got the call". Once recording was completed on a track, the band would repalr to OCS's equally seedy Moseley Shoals in Brum, where it would be mixed and produced with the help of Brendan Lynch.

Settling down with Bobby and Duffy to do a formal interview about all this is a much less relaxed affair than the guided tour. Ever since about three dates into that Depeche Mode tour in Summer 1994, Gillespie has withdrawn from being the most garulously eloquent interviewee in the business, to fielding even the most neutral factfinding question like a court summons. Talking about the past, the drugs, the US tour - it's one big no-no.

After the public ridicule afforded them for 'Give Out...; the current mood of the Scream camp is best summarised by the words etched into the run-out groove of the 'Kowalski' 12-inch: "PARANOIA IS TOTAL AWARENESS."

A fair portion of the impetus behind the record seems to be negative energy. Not for nothing does 'Kowalski' have chainsaws on it. So how do they feel about the post-Britpop world they're re-entering?

"It doesnae really matter what anybody else is doing, right?" Gillespie spits, still wearing the shades despite the near-total absence of light. "I tell ya, we dinnae give a fuck. We're doing our thing. They can all get on with it. We can't be both ered with it. Who cares? There's no fucking competition anyway."

When pushed, Bobby expresses delight in 'North Country Boy' by The Charlatans, and a young band called Asian Dub Foundation.

"Proper fuckin' band, man, dead exciting," he enthuses, his lips turning to a snarl. "The British music industry is still as racist and dumb as it ever has been, right? Nobody'll fuckin' sign ADE They mix in dub, jungle, hip hop, political lyrics. The singer's got the presence of Ian Brown. Why won't anybody sign them? I've got a pretty good idea. If they were four tucking white kids with guitars..."

So, THE SCREAM GENUINELY DON'T CARE WHAT THE POP world makes of'Vanishing Point'. They fully expect the snide observations that they've fled the sink ing ship of their soul direction, and they're purposely not even going to answer back. Instead, Gillespie picks up an unplugged electric guitar and starts playing a song that turns out to be 'People Get Ready' by The Impressions. While he sings and strums, Duffy joins him on melodica, and this impromptu duo rattle on for a few, very surreal minutes. Some kind of verbal response would have been preferable.

Talking about the actual music turns into a very sticky business.

"You can call it what you want," Duffy offers generously. "Ultra cigarettes. Ultra everything. Ultra fucking psychedelic Primal Scream. All the way. Psychedelic storm troopers coming back through history. Weren't we, Bob? From the year dot. (He pauses) But how big is the dot, you know?"

Good attitude. What the new model, darkness- drenched Primal Scream do like is Vanishing Point. Once you've seen the movie, its Scream- friendly aspects are obvious. Gillespie describes it as "a punk-rock speedfreak existentialist road movie" - which covers most of his favourite things in life. Chased across three states by the police in his white Dodge Challenger, the pill-popping hero, Kowaiski, is soon presented as "the last American hero" by the black funkateer radio jock, DJ Super Soul. Hence the samples on 'Kowalski'.

"We like the DJ more than the music he plays," Bob grudgingly explains. "That's why we wrote 'Kowalski', because the soundtrack, we felt, didn't suit the feel of the movie. We thought we'd try and make the right music. That was the challenge - something that captures the feel, the paranoia, the amphetamine, the claustrophobia, the way the guy's focused and locked in."

Why does the movie mean so much to you? You make it sound rather symbolic of the tour with Depeche Mode...

"There's no point in talking about that," Bobby snaps. "That was three years ago. It's the past. It's gone. It's not interesting."

"The first time I saw it was about three years ago," Duffy remembers, more affably. "The bloke in the film is driving a car at a certain speed, and the tour bus we were driving was going at a speed, so it was like double speed. Double motion all the way... My personal opinion of that film is that point... That point is like... When it's actually, the bloke is... (motions something very tiny with thumb and forefinger) You could say it was death, you know what I mean, but it's too small a point. Small. The vanishing point is massive. If you had to try and describe all the shit that you're into, that's what it all boils down to. That point. Wham! You're dead. He's in the bloodstream, and he's just going..."

"Duff's got it!" Gillespie exclaims. "That's the point of the film!"

'And the point is, you're dead," Duffy concludes. "You're dead as well, you know what I mean? Join the club."

That's terrifying.

Gillespie: "No it's not. The film makes us happy."

Another fan is Irvine Welsh, who scripted - and appears in - the video for 'Kowalski', for which the band invested in a Dodge Challenger of their own. Gillespie excitedly calls it "a cross between Faster Pussycat Kill Kill and The Sweeny' which is about the size of it

"It's got Kate Moss in it," he enthuses, "as a hit woman sent to exterminate the band with extreme prejudice. She and her mate hotwire the Challenger and come after us. We see them in this bar and I get karate-chopped, Duffy gets bottled, Mani gets chopped... It's amazing - the band gets fucking offed! Then they throw us into the fucking boot of the car and drive us through London and throw our bodies into the road. We're just lying there. Then we start disintegrating into stars and disolve into the ether." Bobby pauses for breath. "Kate's amazing, a brilliant girl. In the video, she's hard as fuck. Kate's like a mini-Manson family, man - helter skelter coming down on the Scream."

"Did you see that picture of Fidel Castro in Jamaica?" Duffy slurs suddenly, apropos of noth ing. "The President of Jamaica died and he went to the funeral. You never see Castro out, do you? When I was over there, he made a speech in St Paul, right? It was in Spanish, but it was on for about an hour. I didn't understand a word, but I watched him for about 15 minutes. He was just going at it. He's a weird tucking customer, I can tell you... He gave up cigars. Did you know that? They tried to put gunpowder in his tucking cigars."

'Aye," nods Gillespie bitterly. "The CIA have been trying to take him out for years, man.

"But he's still there, man," beams Duffy. "He's got his good points and his bad points, but he's still fucking there!"

AFTER A THUNDER OF FOOTSTEPS, ALL OF THE SCREAM BAR Throb emerge at the top of the stairs, ready to do their photo shoot. Mani lopes straight over to the stereo and bangs on the Black Grape album at hefty volume. Gone are the shades, stubble and sinister vibes of a few days ago. Today on Planet Scream, it's all smiles, expletives and unprintable anecdotes.

"The fuckin' wild bunch," Gillespie grins. "Back for one last bank job."

As well as Mani, there's a new drummer in tow called Paul Malreany. Gallagher-eyed and with an East End accent like they don't make 'em on the telly he looks naggingly familiar from other bands' photo sessions. "I know he's got previous," says Gillespie, scratching his head, "but I don't exacfly know what his crimes are." His nickname is Mr Big. It's probably best not to ask why.

Mani offers to have his pictures done first and shadowboxes terrier-style at the camera. He would look like a bit of a wanker if he wasn't Mani, and behaving like this all the time.

"He's just what we needed," admits Gillespie quietly "Everything's there, know what I'm saying? The football, the rock 'n' roll, the politics, the spir it. And he's got those Slavic cheekbones. He looks like one of the fucking Red Army defending Stalingrad against the Nazis. He's totally heroic."

Like a total pro, he's also done with the lens man in two minutes fiat. Gillespie up next. He makes to throw the same shapes as Mani, and everyone pisses themselves laughing.

Shorn of his familiar scarecrow barnet, Innes declines the opportunity to be photographed. Even in the 'Kowalski' video, he would only appear wearmg a pilot's helmet. Predictably, he's also not talking. "I have nothing to say, I'm disillusioned with the industry" he half-apologises before nip ping off to cut tracks for a forthcoming single.

"That's Innes, man," shrugs Gillespie. "That's where his head's at, and he can't think about anything else."

Mani, on the other hand, is always up for a chat. He has the air of a man who's happy in the knowledge that he's made the right move. "Yeah," he confirms, in his tarry brogue, "it was an easy decision for me to join the Scream. I've always known of them, right from the early days. There was always that 'Velocity Girl'/'Made Of Stone' thing going on there. They're probably one of only three bands I'd even consider joining."

And the others? "The Beastie Boys and The Jesus & Mary Chain. Hahaha."

Mani laughs a lot, and so do the rest of the band when h&s around. Their working relationship is a loose, unspoken thing which suits both sides.

"I never even heard nothing until the day I turned up at the studio," he remembers. "They go, 'Right, we've got this track called 'Kowalski', we're rolling the tapes, make something up.' That's how it works. I like working like that, it's dangerous. I like danger. There's not enough danger in music any more. On the edge. Risky The Scream. Totally."

So on the edge, in fact, that like a spy maintaing an ordinary civilian life, Mani sits at home in Stockport without the faintest idea of when the phone will ringwith news of his next assignment.

"I'm a Mancunian, mate," he reasons. "I don't wanna move to London. I'm happy to commute. I like being on the train. When they need me, I come down. And then I go home afterwards. Hahaha. It's easy, mate. I'll probably have to spend a lot more time down here when we're rehearsing up the tunes for the live shows. Who knows, I'll do the Monday to Friday, and go home for me tea at me mum's on the Sunday..."

LIKE BRIAN BLESSED TAKING THE STAGE AS CHARLES I, Throb finally makes his grand entry, hugs people with a hearty roar and then spends all his time on the phone (as with Innes, he declines a tape- accompanied conversation). When he joins the rest for a group photo, there's a tangible sense that they're enjoying lining up together again.

In good spirits, Gillespie suggests riding back to his place to hear 'Vanishing Point'. Chex Bob, a modest ground-floor flat he shares with his girl friend Emily, is a couple of minutes' walk from the studio. Unlike the latter, it's uncluttered and impeccably tidy. Over the fireplace, there's a poster of Lee 'Scratch' Perry blowing smoke at you. Neatiy stacked by the stereo, there are records and CDs by Neu!, 23 Skidoo, Public image Limited, Motorhead, Joy Division, The Third Bardo (whose '60s garage classic 'I'm Five Years Ahead Of My Time' the band have just covered) and a whole selection of reggae reissues on the Blood & Fire label - Burning Spear, Keith Hudson, Tapper Zukie...

Gillespie cranks his amp up to Rasta sound system volume levels, puts on the DAT of 'Vanishing Point' and goes next door to wash his hair. You wouldn't want to be his neighbour. There's a brief overture of scary dubbing, before 'Burning Wheel' thunders into being like the Jefferson Airplane or something off PiL's 'Metal Box'. Duffy calls it, "The Wacky Races of psyche delia," which rather belittles the evil, 'Slip Inside This House'-style atmosphere.

"Through my diseased eyes," it goes, "I'm sinful, sly I can't stop stealing/I will pay the price of being a thief when I stop breathing/If you could see what I can see/Feel what I feel/When my head is on my fire/When I'm a burning wheel" Keep reading, Paul Draper. "Through my bleeding eyes/I'm filthy, sly/I crawl with insects/I'm anaesthetised, I'm demonised, caught in a vortez/Ifyou could see..."

At this stage, you're fairly sure you're not listen ing to Kula Shaker, and you roil on through 'Kowaiski' and a couple of'Trainspotting'-style lo- fi funky instrumentals, 'Get Duffy' (chilled) and 'If They Move, Kill 'Em' (coked) - the latter now minus the eponymous sample from Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch, which couldn't be cleared in time. If these were theme tunes on the telly, you wouldn't be changing channels.

Next, there's a disturbing three-song sequence which plumbs the depths of drugged psychology 'Out Of The Void' is a desolate ballad of hopeless addiction, like 'Damaged' without the laughs, which segues straight into the narcotically dubby 'Stuka'. Like a lost out-take from 'The Grim Reaper Meets The Rockers Uptown', its vocals are bizarrely delivered through a vocoder (final refrain: "If you play with fire/You're gonna - get burnt/Some of my friends are gonna die young"). 'Medication; on the other hand, is the only nod towards the boo gie-mungus Scream of 'Jallbird' and 'Rocks', a desperate statement of intent to shrug off the strung-out blues, to come out of the darkness.

When a cover of Motorhead's 'Motorhead' crashes in, Gillespie marches back into the room wearing just a towel, a finger moustache and a Nazi salute. He cracks up. "That's Lemmy goose- stepping," he explains, pointing at the speaker. "The fucking Obergruppenfuhrer of ampheta mine, man." Ten seconds from the end, a giant tiff slashes through the scuzz (abiding image: Throb's crotch looming forth on the cover of 'Jailbird'), before the whole song literally explodes to a finish.

After 'Trainspotting' (a last-minute inclusion), 'Long Life' draws the curtain on the album in the same beautifully elegiac mood as does, say, 'Decades' on Joy Division's 'Closer'. It's the most fragile affirmation of being alive you'll ever hear, and seals the impression that Planet Scream has been a painful place to inhabit these past couple of years. Overall, in sound and vision, you're reminded of those heroically obnoxious classics of yesteryear: the muffled surliness of Sly Stone's 'There's A Riot Going On', or the experimental antagonism of PiL's 'Metal Box'. The ray of sun shine, the moment of redemption among the bitterness and paranoia, comes from the one album track we haven't mentioned, the sec ond single from it, and the best thing they've ever done, 'Star'.

Its inspiration comes from the hard-bitten spirituality of roots reggae. 'Vanishing Point' is basically a modern dub album, propelled by the righteous purpose of echo-enhanced sound manipulation. If that sounds more Screamadeilca than 'Give Out...', think back to Gillespie and Duffy's impromptu version of 'People Get Ready', which was originally sung by soul singer Curtis Maytield's first group, The Impressions, but later translated into 'One Love' by The Wallers.

Reggae began as a Caribbean clone of soul from the American South, whose radio stations could often be picked up as far away as Jamaica. The bond between the two musics stretches even further back to the days of slavery; which was, obviously, bitterly remembered by African descendants of both communities. And, besides, what is the concept of the Black Star Liner - the doomed shipping seivice set up by proto- Rastafarian prophet Marcus Garvey to take the African people back to their homeland - but a symbolic extension of the quest for freedom that exists in all great pop music? Plus, Jali's own rude boys make very cool rebels and smoke enough spliff to put the Brazilian rainforests in the shade.

For those kind of reasons, punk- most notably The Clash - embraced reggae in the late '70s, and now the Scream's musical journey has led them to create vibrations that aren't so much irie as 'influ enced' by Rastafarian righteousness and ire.

Bringing soul and reggae back into harmony, 'Star' features both the Memphis Horns and Jamaican dub legend Augustus Pablo on melodica, who apparently walked into the studio, listened back to the song without saying a word, did two takes, told the band that the second was the one they'd use and walked out again.

It's a magical tune, its unforgettable chorus of"Every brother is a star/Every sister is a star" deserving of the finest summer days to hum it in. As it lilts from the speakers, Gillespie fishes out a carefully typed lyric sheet for it headed 'Consciousness' - the word Rastas use for religious- political awareness. One hard-to- decipher couplet reads: "The Queen of Engiand, there's no greater anar chist/One man's freedom fighter is another's terrorist."

You've probably always sensed that Scream music is music that inwardly rages at the obscenity of latter-day capitalism, that walks past every homeless person wrapped in a blanket with a heavy heart, that will vote Labour at any opportunity. The band may like a bit of a flirt with Martin Bormann chic, too, but here's their first ever 'statement' song - a declaration of resistance, equality, freedom, solidarity, The Faith.

Next up on the Gillespie stereo is a DAT of Adrian Sherwood's dub remixes of every track on 'Vanishing Point'. While Emily trims his hair, he grabs a pen and paper and starts jotting down tities for each mix, in a dub album style. 'Get Dufly' becomes 'Cry Duff', a nod to Prince Far-I's seminal 'Cry Tuff Dub Encounter' series.

As the even more astrally-inclined head music rumbles at bowel-blasting volume, you begin to wonder what the wide world will make of the '97- model Scream. After panning them out of sight for it at the time, many have since got hooked on rock classicism and might prefer to slip back into the cosy traditions of 'Give Out...' rather than face up to what amounts to a scarifying wake-up call for the chemical generation.

In many ways, 'Vanishing Point' is 'Scream adelica' Mk 2: a state-of-the-party album - and of course, six years on, the patty isn't a pretty sight. People are expiring left, tight and centre. Tear it up for 72 hours and you've lost half of your brain. The people you hug tonight will have eaten all your bread by the time you chuck them off your sofa tomorrow. Reliably enough, Primal Scream are even tight about the drugs: everyone)5 on speed, even if they thought they'd taken E or charlie...

But do people want the truth? Are the Scream out-reaching their audience? "Think of the indi viduals that are involved in this band," Gillespie suggests, now fully dressed, drying his hair and looking just like he did when 'Higher Than The Sun' came out. "Robert, Mani, Duff, Innes, Mulreany, Innes, myself... You're not gonna end up with a record by The Longpigs."

Will people buy it? "I don't know;" he replies. "If they don't they don't. We love it. We're proud of it. I played a couple of tracks to a pal of mine and he says, 'The Scream are the Total Football of music. Ajax '74, Johnny Rep, Neeskens and Cruyff' - that's good enough for me."

SEVERAL DAYS LATER, THE PHONE RINGS. NOt THE USUAL PR spiel, but Gillespie calling, just to let us know that Asian Dub Foundation are on tonight at the Astoria 2. It turns out that he's right about ADE They are very excellent, a breathless fusion of everything from ragga to PIL. At the bar afterwards, the Scream are there in force, and the vibes are very, very good. "Look at these dexys," Gillespie winks by way of explanation, producing a sheet of tablets. "Pure fuckin' mod gear." Alex Nightingale (the band's manager, son of DJ Annie) has just returned from a holiday in Switzerland and hands around snaps of himself sitting on top of the Eiger with headphones on listening to 'Kowalski' at top volume. "I tell you, mate, he says, "it passed the fucking test."

At about 1.3Oam, Select gets its audience with Innes. He's got an El Vez T-shirt on, even though he's never seen the Mexican Elvis impersonator perform. The only topic of conversation is to be ADE "They're fuckin' proper, aren't they?" he barks. "I mean, why won't somebody sign them? The industry has got to be full of racist scum, hasn't it? There can't be any other reason for it Will you say that in your piece?"

OK. Now do we get a tape of the album?

Uneasy Rider
Vanishing Point: The speed paranoia 'Classic' that inspired 'Kowalski'

OK, so this is the movie that inspired the new Scream album. What's it all about?
Back in the early '70s, in the wake of Easy Rider, it seemed like everyone was making dystopian, existential road movies like Two-Lane Blacktop, Electra Glide In Blue and this little pessimistic gem. It's the tale of wired, blank-eyed car delivery driver Kowalski. who bets a load of drug money that he can drive a supercharged 1970 white Dodge Challenger the 1,500 miles from Colorado to San Francisco in under 15 hours.

So it's about a car journey, then?
Well, it's actually more a car chase: more than 100 minutes of benzedrine-fuelled automotive action, featuring corrupt cops, nude biker chicks and Cleavon Little as soul-saving blind radio DJ Super Soul, who provides a Sly Stone-style commentary on all of Kowaiski's outlaw antics (his voice is sampled on the Scream single). All that and a soundtrack - of grit-spittin' country rock and fuzztone soul.

Violence, corruption, nudity, soul? Take me to Blockbuster now!
Not so fast. This was made in 1971, remember. Despite being a pill-popping, auto-wrecking, DJ-wailing anomaly, Vanishing Point also takes itself completely seriously. It thinks it's a parable about freedom. That nude woman on the motorbike? She represents Kowaiski's dead wife and loss of innocence. A lot ofthe time nothing happens. And the world gone wrong' that Kowalski is protesting against? That's represented by an offensively stereotypical depiction of a couple of predatory gay men.

Make up your mind here. Is it any good or not?
It's pretty good, but leaving aside all its po-aced pretensions, it's ultimately the wooden performance of Barry Newman as Kowalski that tips the film out of the running. He's rubbish. Still, if you're obsessed with drugs, soul music and the American counter culture, and decided to watch it at three in the morning while plotting the direction for your next album - well, then you just might think that it was the best film ever made. AM



Video Nasties
Bob Morris is the bloke dressed as a fishwife in the 'Kowalski' promo- and this is his set report

It takes little imagination to predict - what'II happen when you bring together Primal Scream. Irvine Welsh, a couple of supermodels. the full Scream Team, free booze, various military uniforms, an overgrown transvestite and 'Fatty's Bar & Grill', the legendary late-nite drinker in London's East End, which is run by Scream road marshall Steven `Fatty' Molloy.

The call came in: 'Bob, we want you to dress as a woman." For such an occasion, I'd usually dress up as me mum-and that's exactly what I did. Eleven anion the sunniest day of the year so far: the team are all here. roll call as above. Scream manager Alex Nightingale keeps nagging. and I'm forced to sit tight for half an hour's make-up. There are questions regarding the impossibility of buying court shoes in size eleven. More importantly, does my bum look big in this?

The story of the video, scripted by Irvine Welsh, revolves around a pair of overaII-wearing supermodels cuffing 'Fatty' Molloy to his bed in a compromising position, while the band play dominoes and then zoom about the countryside in a Dodge Challenger. Cue link to Vanishing Point, starring Barry Newman, a 1971 road movie with lots of speed.

Irvine Welsh has already been up all night beavering away at a new screenplay (or was he just out on the piss with Shaun Ryder?). Anyway, by midday he's already in evidence extolling the virtues of the hibs system over European (i.e successful) football. In between takes. Bobby and Innes try on various military uniforms. Innes finally settles on a US Gotcha' mats snapped pilot's outfit - complete with helmet which, much to the amusement of locals, he wears down the pub.

Bobby, Mani and Duffy go for street clothes and Throb for the grey-rock-star-in-the-Persil-ad lookm while Nightingale, Welsh and drummer Paul 'Anyway. Anyhow' Mulreany end up playing a gang of scoop reproters. I keep the TV gear on a few hours too long - you know, just to keep the people amused.

And what about the supermodels? A huge silver winnebag seven o'clock in the evening, containing Kate Moss and her entourage. A very drunken jock writer attempts to introduce himself to the occupants, ending up having in-depth discussions with the spare wheel.

Myself and Innes had already to go down he pub to watch Celtic/Rangers, but in order not to be rude, we sneak out of the car park with a certain Mr Welsh bouncng off the walls behind us . We reach the Felch & Firkin only to discover the entire Scream Team have had exactly the same idea at the same time. Cut back to some lonely supermodels: "We turned up or the band's video." says a disconsolate Ms Moss, "you'd think they'd have the courtesy to turn up as well."

Things get very messy in the pub and Rangers lose 2-0. But Kris Needs and Irvine get talking and are going to record together. Primal Scream? The last great British heroes, The question is not when they're gonna stop, but who's gonna stop 'em? Me? I think I've found my thing in life...BOB MORRIS

Originally Appeared in June 1997 issue of Select Copyright © Select.

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