Primal Scream: Reverberations (Travelling in Time) (Young Tiki) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Primal Scream

Reverberations (Travelling in Time)

Young Tiki

Jul 27, 2023 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Reverberations (Travelling in Time) is no Primal Scream retrospective; listening to this album is more like unlocking a time capsule to reveal a perfectly preserved band in its infancy. Containing 16 tracks with a combined running time of fewer than 35 minutes, it captures the pleasantly petulant spirit of C86-era Primals at its raw best. The opening 11 tracks are previously unreleased recordings of BBC radio sessions of the mid-’80s, for the late, great John Peel and Janice Long. The closing five are the band’s early releases for legendary British label Creation Records, with which Alan McGee cemented the careers of seminal bands like Ride, Oasis, Slowdive, and My Bloody Valentine in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

Before Primal Scream became the shapeshifting, genre-subverting behemoth that gave us 1991’s acid house-infused Screamadelica, the band’s sound was typified by a Byrds-inspired guitar jangle and the youthful vocal delivery of Bobby Gillespie, himself freshly departed from The Jesus and Mary Chain, for whom he drummed on their 1985 album Psychocandy. And from the opening verse of album opener “Imperial,” the breathless half-chant of Gillespie’s live vocals not only transports the listener back to a time when tight leather trousers were de rigeur but also evokes “Sally Cinnamon”-era Stone Roses releases.

“Velocity Girl,” included here as a radio session track and as one of the early Creation recordings, is the song that propelled Primal Scream into the collective British indie consciousness when it was included on the NME’s cover-mounted “C86” mixtape. But, despite its multiple inclusion for the sake of completism, it’s not the standout.

Many of the radio session tracks later appeared on the band’s 1987 debut album, Sonic Flower Groove (slated for a 2024 re-issue), with more pristine production, but with no loss of Gillespie’s laidback vocal approach. The down-tempo “Love You” (originally entitled “I Love You”), while a standout track on Sonic Flower Groove, does, in its earlier form, lack the album version’s heart-meltingly plaintive “don’t walk away…” refrain. But many of the songs here benefit from being one-take session tracks—“Aftermath” for example, with its rawer-edged, insouciant, Mary Chain-alike sound, showcases Gillespie taking a rare chance on his vocal range.

The Creation recordings, sadly, fall flat by comparison. Only “Crystal Crescent,” replete with horn section, summons anything like the memorable melodies of the earlier radio session tracks. Although album closer, “Spirea X,” is one of the more exciting inclusions from the Creation days—a bulldozing 65-second instrumental that could almost be an outtake from the band’s 2000 XTRMNTR album. (Fun fact: founding member Jim Beattie left the band after the release of Sonic Flower Groove, naming his new band Spirea X.)

Sonic Flower Groove’s poor chart position, and friction during its recording, spelt an almost wholesale line-up change for the band, and Primal Scream reinvented themselves. It’s what they do. But, for what it captures, this collection is a worthy addition to the library of not only die-hard fans but also those with any interest in the evolution of British indie music. It’s Primal Scream at their 1960s psychedelia-inspired best, trapped in amber. And, while the surface might lack some polish, what’s found within has historical significance that’s worth preserving. (www.primalscream.net)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10



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