10 Best Primal Scream Songs
Primal Scream have never been a band to rest on the laurels. They consistently move forward, following their muse wherever it takes them, and like David Bowie and the Beatles before them, they’re not content mining one style over and over. From jangle-pop and hard rock to country and electronic prog and back again, this long-running Scottish band has constantly defied labels, and picking their top tracks is a matter of what Primal Scream you like most. That said, we’ve sorted through their eclectic discography and created this list of the 10 Best Primal Scream Songs. Rave on, and let it rock!
The first stretch of road Primal Scream traveled was that of the eternal jangling guitar. Their first two singles embodied what would become known as the ‘C86′ sound — a brittle, jangly form guitar-pop named for a 1986 NME cassette sampler. By the time of their debut LP, ‘Sonic Flower Groove,’ in 1987, they had perfected the Byrds/Love mutation to suit themselves. The pinnacle of their early sound is ‘Gentle Tuesday,’ which still radiates with sunshine.
One of Primal Scream’s most unhinged and raw tracks, ‘Accelerator’ rips the speakers in half as it blares out at full volume. Sounding not unlike a merger of the Ramones and Japanese power trio High Rise, it’s a nonstop blast of energy and chaos. No frills here — none needed!
‘Higher Than the Sun’ (American Spring Mix)
There are seven or eight different mixes of ‘Higher Than The Sun,’ and while the original single version is nothing to dismiss, this version, dubbed the ‘American Spring Mix,’ comes from the maxi-single and seems to resonate louder than all the others. The mood of the original is in tact, but with it come many more textures and sonic colors that make it unique, thanks to remix king Andrew Weatherall. The harpsichord and airy synths share space with singer Bobby Gillespie’s dreamlike vocal in just the right capacity. ‘American Spring’ is a nod to a recording project produced by Beach Boys mainman Brian Wilson.
The ‘Vanishing Point’ is quite visible on this list of the 10 Best Primal Scream Songs, and the first track shows why. ‘Burning Wheel’ encompasses numerous aspects of what makes Primal Scream a great and interesting band. Taking elements of their classic ‘Screamadelica’ period (represented elsewhere on this list) and merging them with a new palate of influences, the group dip their brushes into different buckets, sonically speaking, using color to great effect. The unfamiliar disguised as the familiar, perhaps? Any way you slice it, it’s one of their best.
The title track from the latest Primal Scream album, ‘2013,’ is a startling and reassuring kick in the head — proof the band refuses to stand still. The leadoff track ticks all the ‘right’ boxes, melding elements of Roxy Music, Hawkwind, the Rolling Stones and even earlier Primal Scream. A dramatic start to an exciting album, ‘2013’ takes the listener on a colorful ride for nine-plus minutes. Welcome back, guys!
‘When The Bomb Drops’
Somewhat buried on the band’s 2006 album ‘Riot City Blues,’ ‘When The Bomb Drops,’ fifth on our list of the 10 Best Primal Scream Songs, ranks as one of their finest moments. Will Sergeant from Echo & the Bunnymen steps on board to provide his unmistakable guitar style, and the band is on fire, dishing it out full force. Bobby Gillespie warns of self-destruction and does so with conviction. All aces for this one!
Sure, it’s a straight-up Stones/Faces ripoff. So what! It’s better than anything the Stones had done in years. They have the style, sting and swagger down perfect. Living up to the title — yes, it rocks — this one doesn’t let up for its three-and-a-half-minute ride. Probably the best example of this side of the band, ‘Rocks’ proves that dance-floor temptations and artsy experiments aside, they’re a rock ‘n’ roll band at heart.
The song ‘I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have‘ sat quietly at the end of side one of their self-titled 1989 LP until the band hooked up with producer Andrew Weatherall for a remix. He took the straightforward three chord rocker and turned it on its head, emphasizing the inherent groove, adding some soul and gospel textures and inserting a fitting credo by Peter Fonda from the classic 1966 biker film ‘The Wild Angels.’ Primal Scream suddenly found themselves and were transformed from lower-tier MC5 wannabes to a full-fledged groundbreaking hybrid of classic rock ‘n’ roll and rave culture. The accompanying LP, ‘Screamadelica,’ would cement their legacy, and it remains a modern-day classic.
‘Kowalski,’ No. 2 on our list of the 10 Best Primal Scream Songs, is hands down one of the group’s most dynamic tracks. From the haunting intro (complete with a sample of Clevon Little dialog from the 1971 film that inspired the LP, ‘Vanishing Point‘) to the motorik drumming, ‘Kowalski’ is rock ‘n’ roll with a heavenly groove. The drum part evokes Jaki Liebezeit of Can, particularly the uber-classic track ‘Halleluwah.’ The Scream use it to full effect here, as it locks in with the bass to create an unrelenting, hypnotic, psychedelic pulse.
‘Movin’ On Up’
The opener to the band’s landmark game-changer, ‘Screamadelica,’ ‘Movin’ On Up’ carries the torch of prime-era Rolling Stones forward, adding some jubilant gospel flavor along the way. Bobby Gillespie and co. sound right at home here as the driving acoustic guitars and spacious production make the song come alive before our ears. A nice Keef-ish guitar solo ices the cake. One of the band’s most enduring and endearing cuts that never fails to raise a smile.