Primal Scream’s Demodelica : A Worthy Screamadelica Companion?

Primal Scream’s Screamadelica, released in September 1991, captured late 80s/early 90s UK rave culture’s peak. Unlike that era’s other UK “guitar bands” making dance music, Primal Scream was a Rolling Stones-esque rock band that—with the help of producers including Andrew Weatherall, The Orb, Terry Farley, and Hypnotone as well as singer Denise Johnson—drew from acid house in a seamless transition towards the current time. While it now sounds a bit dated, it remains a well-produced, relevant piece of rock history whose energy transcends any stylistic setbacks.

. In 1990, DJ Andrew Weatherall remixed Primal Scream’s “I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have” as “Loaded,” a complete overhaul bearing almost no resemblance to the original. As “Loaded” became the band’s biggest hit, frontman Bobby Gillespie (formerly the drummer of The Jesus & Mary Chain) expressed distaste for the UK’s current rock scene. “I don’t think we can be accused of jumping on any bandwagon,” he told Melody Maker. “The whole rock scene is a fucking joke. Most of the bands leave me cold. Apart from The Jesus & Mary Chain and The Cramps, all the gigs I’ve been to recently have been incredibly dull. A rave or a club is an entirely different thing. The music is energetic and the people have an adventurous spirit. The whole house music scene has the same kind of vibrancy that punk used to have and that’s why so many young kids are into it.” Combining psychedelia, rock, dance, soul, and gospel, Primal Scream spent the next year recording Screamadelica, still their most widely renowned work.

For Screamadelica’s 30th anniversary, this lineup’s remaining primary members Bobby Gillespie and Andrew Innes prepared Demodelica, a previously unreleased Screamadelica work-in-progress compilation released on 2LP, CD, and cassette by Sony UK. (It’s unavailable stateside. When Creation Records dissolved in 2000, Sony UK acquired the catalog to which Sire/Warner still controls American distribution. Obtaining the UK/EU Demodelica import isn’t difficult, though some might find it a bit pricey.) These demos sourced from DATs (which in turn came from cassettes) feature eight out of ten (not counting the second “Higher Than The Sun”) Screamadelica songs; none of Weatherall’s early “Loaded” mixes survive, and there were no demos for the cover of the 13th Floor Elevators’ “Slip Inside This House” (initially recorded for a Roky Erickson tribute compilation). It does, however, feature the song “Screamadelica,” a Dixie-Narco EP track written too late for its namesake album.

Despite the name, Demodelica’s 16 tracks range from sketches to nearly finished songs, coming from Primal Scream’s Hackney studio (established with “Loaded” royalties), a spare room in Innes’ Isle of Dogs flat, and the professional Eden and Jam facilities. The Hackney demos are rather unpolished, ranging from a rough albeit mostly complete “Movin’ On Up” to a recording of “Inner Flight”’s just-composed vocal melody. On the Isle of Dogs demos tracked with a Tascam 4-track recorder, Andrew Innes used an Akai S1000 sampler most prominently found in “Higher Than The Sun”’s soundscapes and these “Don’t Fight It, Feel It” demos’ bombast. The Eden Studios takes of “Shine Like Stars” and “Screamadelica” strip away the finished versions’ excess production, and compared to Weatherall’s finished mix, the latter’s relative brevity especially shines. As essentially finished tracks sent to Screamadelica’s remix producers, the Jam Studios monitor mixes (and the EMI Publishing Studio “Don’t Fight It, Feel It” mix) spotlight the album’s rather conventional core.

While it proves more than the average vault-dive cash grab, Demodelica is still mostly for Primal Scream superfans and completists; anyone who buys the demos album already loves the finished product. Even then, some might find this 55-minute collection light on the dance material (even though that’s the whole point here). It’s surely the most interesting Screamadelica reissue/archive material yet (other 30th anniversary commemorations include a 12” singles box and a picture disc album repress, while the 20th anniversary set rounded up previously released material), though Sony’s exhaustively milked this era: why hasn’t (the equally praised and in my opinion superior) XTRMNTR, for example, received any major reissue treatment?

Anyway, the 180g Pallas-pressed Demodelica 2LP, cut by Barry Grint at Alchemy Mastering at AIR, is flat and almost dead silent. The sound isn’t spectacular (as expected of 30-year-old demos), but there’s still a smooth, transparent top end. The spot-varnished direct-to-board gatefold jacket looks nice, though Jon Savage’s liner notes (included on a minimally designed four-page insert) are a mess. He excerpts insightful (albeit redundant) recent interviews with Gillespie and Innes, except editing seems non-existent. (The liner notes are dated to July 2021, which maybe implies harsh printing/pressing deadlines.) That aside, Demodelica is a high-quality vinyl release. For the proper Screamadelica album, I’d recommend the 2015 Creation/Sony UK/EU 180g pressing, done at Optimal from the original 1991 UK metal parts. It’s a bit bright, though it’s affordably priced and likely the best vinyl version available.

(Malachi Lui is an AnalogPlanet contributing editor, music obsessive, avid record collector, and art enthusiast. Follow him on Twitter: @MalachiLui and Instagram: @malachi__lui)

COMMENTS
Jazz listener's picture

Interesting album art though.

MalachiLui's picture

doesn't mean you need to tell us that!

Anton D's picture

Now that you have heard of them, you can replace ignorance with ignoring!

You forgot to find some demeaning way to mangle Malachi's name. You feelin' OK?

Jazz listener's picture

and although you really didn’t need to be hiding under a rock to miss them, I like their music.

SloppyJoeBuck's picture

Still waiting for the "yelling at cloud" bit...

Jazz listener's picture

is your wife when the neighbour’s boning her while you’re at work, lol.

Warszawa's picture

Could you at least try to be clever when you make comments on this site?

Glotz's picture

ML is more adult than this wank. LOL... Half his age too.

What jazz do you listen to? LMAO..

SloppyJoeBuck's picture

How can one disgruntled old man be SO CLEVER and SO OFTEN?

At least my wife is getting some, which is more I can say for you, you cantakerous old twit. As-salamu alaykum, granddad

rich d's picture

Man I feel old. I just realized it's been a while since I hijacked a thread to make recommendations, so here's some holiday listening for you:

Don Letts - "Version Excursion" - a bit of dub, a few JA covers of pop hits and seven tablespoons of bass. You'll want to skip the reggae version of Caroline, No -- there was no reason to mess with perfection.

CAN - "Live in Brighton 1975"- completely different from, but just as good as, the Stuttgart set released earlier this year. The mix emphasizes Jaki Liebezeit's drumming, which is as it should be.

Miles Davis - "Live Evil" - the lure of colored vinyl was enough to coax my wallet from my trousers. This Record Store Day reissue serves as a reminder of why the word "incendiary" entered the reviewer's lexicon.

and one oldie: I just found another copy of the 12" single of LL Cool J's "Goin' Back to Cali" (gift for a fried, thanks for asking). Not only is this a shockingly good recording of a fun song, but it has the ability to clear stuffy audiophiles out of the room at trade shows. No tinkly bells or breathy female vocals here, sunshine...

MalachiLui's picture

i probably won't be able to listen until year-end list stuff is done, but i'll make note of those! thanks!

PeterPani's picture

Yes!!!

Glotz's picture

Bad month for me... Sigh.

rich d's picture

Incidentally, I seem to recall Mikey was looking for the Solid State issue of Bill Evans/Jim Hall "Undercurrent". I was in Portland a couple weeks ago and saw a clean copy cheap. I think it was at Jump Jump but I was also at Millennium, Exiled and Landfill among others that day so I can't be sure.

Warszawa's picture

Thanks again for another quality review Malachi! I haven't listened to Screamadelica in at least a decade. I don't know that I'll be purchasing Demodelica, buy you've inspired me to find a copy of the source album. Do you have a recommendation for a decent pressing--that isn't hundreds of dollars.

MalachiLui's picture

as i briefly mentioned at the end of the above review, this is the 'screamadelica' pressing to have, done from the original metal parts.

https://www.discogs.com/release/7772194-Primal-Scream-Screamadelica

Warszawa's picture

I ordered a copy. Should have read the whole review more thoroughly :)

dial's picture

Ôu yeah love the Primal scream so I'll need this one too. Cos in fact I was into the JMAC (a pop copy of the less boring parts of SY drowned into the larsen thing=) so I heard of Gillespie. He likes the same RNR things as me and so he's done good music too. Ah the 13th floors ! So sad Roky & Sky Sunlight Saxon passed away !!!!!!!!!!!!

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