18 March 2011
This is an album I had loved when it was originally released, almost twenty years ago. I listened to it often for a year or so at the time, then put it away, and I probably hadn't heard the full album since then, until I bought this remastered "Deluxe" version.
My first impression, after listening to this a couple of times, is that this album is at least as much the work of the producers as of the band, and the way it turned out, this is in no way a bad thing. Producer Andrew Weatherall had remixed a track from the band's previous album; that track was "I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have", and the remix became the track "Loaded" - a huge departure from the band's previous style, and a top 20 hit in UK early in 1990.
Weatherall was retained as producer for the band's third album, and, with assistance from a number of other notable producers, this album emerged towards the end of the year. The sound is very different from the band's earlier, rockier, rougher sound, and it fitted in perfectly with the sound of the time, heavily influenced by house, and other dance genres, and making imaginative use of technology and samples.
There isn't a duff track on the album, from the Stones-y opener "Moving On Up" right through to the reflective (but loud!) harmonium-driven closer "Shine Like Stars", and on through the second disc of this edition, which contains the "Dixie Narco" EP, remastered in its entirety.
In between, there is a busy cover of the 13th Floor Elevators" "Slip Inside This House"; heavy on the piano, this does however sound like a bridge between the old Primal Scream, and this new dance-friendly version. "Don't Fight It, Feel It" is a house-y track featuring a lead vocal by Denise Johnson; "Higher Than The Sun" is a rather trippy track, musically and lyrically confirming the band's heavy involvement and participation in the drug scene. "Inner Flight" is a trippy near-instrumental, and one of the few take-it-or-leave-it tracks on the album - perfectly pleasant, but not really up to the standard of the rest of the LP. "Come Together", an epic ten-minute gospel anthem heavily featuring a Jesse Jackson sample, is simply excellent - it probably sounds best as the closing track on side two of the original vinyl double album.
It is immediately followed by Weatherall's masterpiece, the aforementioned "Loaded", a fantastically powerful piece including a lengthy vocal sample from Peter Fonda in his movie "The Wild Angels". The sample had been nicked from Mudhoney's 1988 track "In 'N' Out of Grace", but nobody knew that back then, so it didn't matter, and it still doesn't matter now. After these two barnstormers, the rest of the album is inevitably a bit of a comedown; "Damaged" is the Stones in country mode, think "Far Away Eyes"; "I'm Coming Down" is so laid back it's a wonder they didn't fall over; "Higher Than The Sun (A Dub Symphony In Two Parts)" features Jah Wobble, and is an extended and heavily remixed version of the fourth track on the album, making use of a Thompson Twins sample, among many others. "Shine Like Stars", mentioned earlier, closes the album proper, and despite its rather pastoral quality, it appears to be mixed as easily the loudest track on the album - I'm not sure if that was deliberate or not.
That leaves disc 2 - the Dixie Narco EP, which contained three tracks which failed to make it onto the album, plus the lead track "Moving On Up". This was released in early 1992, and at the time seemed like one last attempt to milk the album, but the three "new" tracks, are not simply filler - they are all worth having in their own right. "Stone My Soul" finds Bobby in contemplative mood, in a laid-back blues-y kinda way; the Dennis Wilson cover "Carry Me Home" is a real highlight, a fine vocal performance, and such a good song that you wonder how the Beach Boys could have left it off their "Holland" album (especially when you hear some of the stuff that did make it onto that album!); and the closer "Screamadelica", the ten-minute title track which wasn't included on the original album - it's a little twee and rather disjointed - enjoyable, but not really of the same calibre as the rest of the album, and you can understand why it was omitted.
So, to sum up - a great album, well remastered, and with excellent extras. I would strongly recommend you add this to your collection, if it isn't already there.