Home > News & Reviews > Primal Scream

Primal Scream - Give Out But Don't Give Up: The Original Memphis Recordings (Album Review)

Tuesday, 16 October 2018 Written by Jacob Brookman

Primal Scream continue to divide opinion. As a ‘90s indie band they are a bit of an also-ran: a group who produced some excellent music while being outshone by bands who had more consistency across membership and sound like Blur, Oasis and Pulp.

Released in 1994, ‘Give Out But Don’t Give Up’ was symptomatic of this. It stands as a fine album with a rootsy rhythm and blues sound, but it sits strangely next to the records that bookend it: the psychedelic ‘Screamadelica’ and the krautrock-dub mashup ‘Vanishing Point’.

Furthermore, ‘Give Out...’ was a commercial success but a critical flop. Longtime fans saw its Rolling Stones/U2 pomposity as representative of the ego of frontman Bobby Gillespie, but 24 years on the appropriation of gospel and blues elements on the record is perhaps more problematic.

It feels like the work of helicopter dilettantes who want to grab every profitable African American musical trope they can before flying back to London.

As such, the release of ‘The Original Memphis Recordings’ is an opportunity to get to grips with the record without the affectations of the ‘90s indie production. Stemming from 1993 sessions at Ardent Studios with producer Tom Dowd and the Muscle Shoals rhythm section, it’s an interesting listen because it demonstrates Primal Scream’s basic musicianship - often superb and sometimes poor.

A good example of the former is the oft-overlooked anthem Call on Me. A chugging party tune arranged with real verve and precision, its horns, riffs and backing vocals all interlock superbly and Gillespie’s performance also benefits from its pared back recording. The production on the 1994 record overloaded the guitar, making it plod with a T-Rex-esque smashyness, but here we’re in territory more reminiscent of the Stones on ‘Exile on Main Street’, and it has a delicacy - if not quite integrity - that improves it.

Similarly, Rocks is arranged differently. The original placed the snare on the downbeat, giving it a Motown stomp somewhere between Paul Weller’s heavy soul sound and Status Quo. Here we’re presented with a phaser-led guitar and  a more straight rock beat in keeping with live performances. As a recording, it’s a little less distinctive, but the groove gives it more swagger and joy. The challenge is the poorly sung backing vocals on the chorus. They have always been slightly flat, but this recording reveals this a little too keenly - you have to train yourself not to hear them.

These limitations are there to see. The inclusion of an improvised jam, Memphis Groove, is clearly designed to give the album a greater live atmosphere, but it is terrible music. It reveals the fundamental inexperience of Primal Scream as a jam band (at the time, at least). Gillespie’s garbled garbage is annoying and the piano playing, in particular, lacks wit and imagination. A mixed bag.





Let Us Know What You Think - Leave A Comment!




Related News

Primal Scream Announce Intimate Brighton and London Festival Warm Up Dates
Fri 12 Apr 2019
Primal Scream have announced two intimate warm-up shows for May.
Primal Scream Confirm Release Of 'Give Out But Don't Give Up - The Original Memphis Recordings'
Mon 20 Aug 2018
Primal Scream have announced a new album, of sorts.
Primal Scream: Many Happy Returns To 'Screamadelica'
Fri 23 Sep 2016
Until 1989, Primal Scream had hardly set the world alight. Formed in 1982, their debut album ‘Sonic Flower Groove’ (1987) was a collection of Byrdsian jangle pop that sold disappointingly and led to a divide that saw singer Bobby Gillespie, guitarist Andrew Innes and bassist Rob Young as the three remaining members from an initial five. The band’s eponymous follow up, released two years later, suffered the same fate. But something else happened that year that would change their fortunes forever.
Editors Share Reworking Of Hallelujah (So Low)
Tue 16 Apr 2019
Editors have shared the second track from their forthcoming album.
Turin Brakes Announce Marathon UK Acoustic Tour
Wed 20 Mar 2019
Turin Brakes have announced a massive UK acoustic tour for late 2019. 
The National Share New Single Light Years
Thu 04 Apr 2019
The National have released a new track.
Roy Orbison And Buddy Holly Holographic Tour Will Head To Arenas In UK And Ireland In October
Tue 26 Mar 2019
Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly: The Rock ’N’ Roll Dream Tour will head to arenas in the UK and Ireland this autumn.
Beirut Line Up Cardiff, Dublin And Nottingham Shows Ahead Of End Of The Road Festival Appearance
Thu 11 Apr 2019
Beirut have announced a handful of headline shows prior to their appearance at End Of The Road festival this summer.
 
< Prev   Next >