Big Day Out: Primal Scream

By Scott Kara

Who: Primal Scream

Where and when: Big Day Out, Green Stage, tomorrow, 8.45pm-9.45pm

What: Playing 1991 classic Screamadelica in full

Primal Scream will play Screamadelica at the BDO. Photo / Supplied
Primal Scream will play Screamadelica at the BDO. Photo / Supplied

Mani Mounfield - the likeable, friendly, and potty-mouthed bass player in Primal Scream - wasn't in the band when they released Screamadelica in 1991.

He was in that other big British band, the Stone Roses, who around this time were embroiled in record company squabbles and other silly things that would ultimately see them split up after their own classic debut album.

But Mounfield sure remembers the trip Screamadelica took you on - and the impact it had at the time.

"I loved [it] when it came out because it seemed like the natural progression from what the Roses had done in '89 [on their self-titled debut] when we incorporated the dance stuff - and that was just taking it a little bit further. It totally captured a moment in time and that's the secret. It appealed to guitar indie kids and also ravers, and it's hard to break down those boundaries in music sometimes but I think that album did it."

And to celebrate the album's 20th birthday, the band will play Screamadelica from start to finish at the Big Day Out tomorrow.

From the soaring, swooning heights of Higher Than the Sun, down to the sad and haunting beauty of Damaged, and on to the loved-up danceathon of Loaded, Screamadelica was a ground-breaking collision between indie rock, the drug-fuelled world of acid house, and soul music.

It was also a commercial success, and the band's breakthrough release, and won them the inaugural Mercury Music Prize in 1992.

"First and foremost," says Mounfield in his brash but matey Manchester accent, "it had great production by [British DJ and producer] Andrew Weatherall - and then what was key was everyone [in Britain] was completely off their tits on Ecstasy", he laughs. "But," he continues more seriously, "Screamadelica would never have sounded like it did without Andy Weatherall, because it was his take on the Scream's songs that made it special."

He's a fan of the slower songs like Damaged ("it's f****** amazing") and I'm Comin' Down ("You'll have hallucinations"). "There's such a good levelling of stuff going on in those songs, and a great sense of space as well."

Mounfield knew Primal Scream's mainstay members Bobby Gillespie (who founded the band in 1982), Andrew Innes and Martin Duffy in the late-80s and early-90s, and when the Roses split in the mid-90s, he joined the Scream.

"Even though we were from different cities we had the same sort of mind sets. And I used to meet them in various stages of slobbering undress in clubs in Manchester and Glasgow."

Ever since joining the band he's always hassled Gillespie to start playing more of the band's back catalogue.

"Because a) I'd love to learn them and b) I'd love to play them live. They had never played Screamadelica in its entirety and basically I think it's just a bit of a nice change from playing high-octane rock 'n' roll. It's a little bit more creative, it's got a bit more soul, and it's a bit more cerebral. It's good for the head, this album."

It's also complex and a challenge to pull off live. To prepare for the shows they stripped the songs back to their bare bones "and then we built it up, bit by bit".

"And we have been blowing the lid off places, mate. We're dealing with elevation of people here," he chuckles, describing the first Screamadelica shows they played late last year. And it's not lost on Mounfield that there is another late-80s, early-90s classic album that would be worth playing in its entirety.

"Do you know what mate? It just needs a few guys to patch up their differences and could happen. It's always been my dream to do it because I didn't like the way the Roses finished, there was too much acrimony, there was a lot of bad shit going down. I still get people coming up to me and shaking my hand and saying, 'thank you for that album'."

- NZ Herald

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