Chris DeLine

Cedar Rapids, IA

Primal Scream “Riot City Blues” Review

Published in Blog, Culture Bully. Tags: , .

Primal Scream, a band with a history that precedes it…or does it? In a situation such as this, I find myself just outside of having a mainstream appreciation for the band as I haven’t been following Primal Scream since the groundbreaking days of Screamadelica. Essentially piecing together a timeline that grew out of The Jesus and Mary Chain through till now is difficult, when you simply just weren’t there. Not knowing lead singer Bobby Gillespie’s drug fueled history and his Gallagher-like holier than-thou-view of the band might help one to view the album in less of a jaded manner, allowing the listener to avoid any baggage associated with the band’s past. It’s hard to relate Riot City Blues to the rest of the band’s catalogue when the only Primal Scream that’s crossed your path is 1991’s advertising-darling “Come Together.” But just as some fifteen years have passed since its release, Primal Scream has too started something new, and it might very well take birth with Riot City Blues.

With that being said, there have, however, been various pieces of historical evidence that surround the band, jading an objective viewpoint. The thing is, a few songs into the album, when “Suicide Sally and Johnny Guitar” builds steam and rips through a whirlwind of rock n’ roll basics, most of which is forgotten, and what was never known becomes dead weight.

There is a historical presence with the album that lends itself to a grand feeling after listening to Riot City Blues. Experiencing it over again is almost a necessity, because lingering is a feeling that what you heard just wasn’t right, somehow. A feeling not unlike when first hearing your favorite album, being oddly turned off by its parts, but affectionately intrigued by it as a whole.

“99th Floor” plays around with harmonica and bottlenecking just enough to persuade critics to forget previous negative associations to the band’s previously overanalyzed similarities to The Rolling Stones. But we’re not even taking the band’s past into account, remember? And in doing so, this song and tracks like “Dolls” make you think that Primal Scream are a modern day third, or fourth, fifth or sixth wave blues revivalist band.

With tracks such as “Hell’s Comin’ Down” and “Sometimes I Feel So Lonely” you might want to once again start thinking about how Gillespie has made a trade out of bastardizing credible genres, and how he’s turned them into an almost irrevocable joke. However, you shouldn’t. Because as much as the band turns into an off-Broadway version of Bruce Springsteen’s Seeger Sessions Players, there’s still a hint of magic. A very small hint, but it’s there nonetheless.

Through ups and downs, the album comes off as a strong performance. And if you can put the band’s history aside, and you don’t mind that most of the songs feel like they could be on either the soundtrack to Road Trip or a detrimental color-washed independent film surveying modern relevance of The Taming of the Shrew, then Riot City Blues might just be your thing.

[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]