With the Screamadelica album Primal Scream didn’t just reinvent themselves as a band, they reinvented what it meant to be a band.
By the end of the 1980s, it looked like Primal Scream were finished. Having formed in Glasgow in 1984, their eponymous and hard-rocking but unspectacular second album had been released in 1989 to poor sales and general indifference. “It felt like we were fucked,” singer Bobby Gillespie admitted to this writer in 2008. “Then we started to go to acid house clubs in long hair and leather, initially because of the drugs. We were taking speed and then we started taking E and really loved it. We’d given up on contemporary rock music. We were more into contemporary electronic dance music. So we had the idea that we wanted to make songs that they would play in the clubs.”
With this notion in their minds, the group handed over the tapes of one song from the Primal Scream album to first-time remixer, DJ Andrew Weatherall. At first, tentatively, Weatherall just toughened up the beats of the Stones-y rocker ‘I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have’. Going into the studio to hear the result, Primal Scream guitarist Andrew Innes thought Weatherall could go much further with the track, instructing him to “forget what we’ve done. Just fucking destroy it.”
Built around the original song’s slide guitar/bongo breakdowns and its storming, horn-powered outro, the remix, entitled ‘Loaded’, was a dance floor-ready track which entirely turned around the fortunes of Primal Scream. Andrew Weatherall first got the sense that ‘Loaded’ was set to become a big record when he played it during his set at West London club Subterrania in 1990 and it instantly fired up the crowd. At 4am, Weatherall called Gillespie at his home in Brighton to say, “Fucking hell, man, everybody’s going mental for the record.”
‘Loaded’ was a Top 20 hit in February 1990 and Primal Scream immediately set to work on a follow-up single. The track, ‘Come Together’, was to cement a new way of working for them: creating tracks in the knowledge that they would be handed over to remixers. Still, the recording of the song got off to a bad...
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