By Cooke, Rachel
New Statesman (1996) , Vol. 135, No. 4796
On Monday, it was Primal Scream Day on BBC6 Music. It seems a bit over the top to devote a whole day to this band. The people at Sony, who have a new album to flog, must be thrilled beyond belief.
Lots of groups are obvious candidates for this treatment: Steely Dan, say, or the Smiths--bands that are big, but not too big, and have been very influential. But Primal Scream? Yes, they've been around for two decades, outlasting most of their contemporaries (the Stone Roses, for example). They haven't exactly insinuated their way into the culture, however--at least, not round these parts. I used to be a big fan, but even I struggle to sing any of their songs from memory. The other day, I tried to warble "Movin' On Up" to a friend. "Is that one of your own numbers, or are you improvising?" he said witheringly.
Still, there are lots of things in their favour. Their individual songs might be a blur, but Screamadelica is a fantastic album, one that reminds me of being seven stone and wearing Doc Martens and a floral shirt. Then there are the band's socialist credentials. They don't just drone on drippily about tofu and carbon emissions while being careful not to say anything too outrageous for their middle-class followers. They get stuck in. Among other things, Bobby Gillespie, the band's singer, campaigned for the release of Satpal Ram, jailed for murder after defending himself from a racist attack in Birmingham in 1987. And Gillespie lives in my street. I've never spoken to him, but this is the only cool thing to have happened to me since I turned 30.
Most importantly, Gillespie and his bass player, Mani (late of the Stone Roses), know what decent music is. As a trailer for the main event, the pair did a "soundclash" for 6 Mix. Their choices were superb, though their DJing style took some getting used to. Mani, who is from Oldham, acted like John Shuttleworth on ecstasy. He was operating the mobile disco, and we were the poor saps standing at the edge of the room. "Pee-PUL," he kept saying, "we are try-ING to keep it fun-KEY." Lord, it took me back. When he put on S Express, I found myself wondering if we had any Malibu in the house. …