Without question. Without any shadow of doubt, Primal Scream are the most important band ever to emerge from Scotland.
We're not saying that they are the best band, or our favourite band, but unquestionably, in terms of the impact they have had on music, they stand head and shoulders above the rest.
It may be curious to make such an assertion based on one album. But 1991's Screamadelica was an album that changed rock and there are precious few bands in the history of music who can make that claim, never mind Scottish bands.
Bobby Gillespie - no oil painting and he cannae sing
Screamadelica brought acid house, techno, and rave culture crashing into the music mainstream. It was a watershed, an incredible marriage of conventional rock and underground dance music. It is a record that proclaims its influences proudly and obviously, house music, deep dub, blues, techno, Northern Soul, The Byrds, Velvet Underground and finally and possibly most importantly, drugs. Or to be more specific, Ecstasy, the trippy leisure indulgence of choice for a generation of British club goers and one perfectly suited to the repetitive rhythms and grooves of house and dub.
At its most fundamental, Screamadelica was a record that enabled white guitar bands to recapture much of the territory that they were losing to cutting edge black dance music. It's a once in a generation album, as important in its own time as Pink Floyd's “Dark Side of the Moon” was some eighteen years previously.
The one constant in the Primal Scream story is front man Bobby Gillespie. The sponge: the one-man musical influences juke box and the spleen: the driving force behind the angry polemics of much of their output. Recent albums track titles include “Kill all Hippies” and “Bomb the Pentagon” ... wonderful.
Gillespie is not the front man and singer because of the quality of his voice. He's there because of his passion for music and his absolute dedication to it. Glasgow born, he was friends from an early age with Alan McGee, of Creation Records (most famous for “discovering” Oasis, but in reality contributors of a lot more besides). The pair shared an early passion for the Who and the Stones, but the arrival of punk and its raw energy changed everything and cemented a passion that has never diminished.
Primal Scream - still loud, opinionated, angry and great
McGee went to London and Gillespie stayed in Glasgow. As part of the apprenticeship, at one time he was concurrently lead singer and front man with Primal Scream, and drummer with Jesus and Mary Chain. Occasionally strutting his stuff as supporting act and then reappearing as headliner JAMC's percussionist. Percussionist is possibly too strong a word, as by all accounts Gillespie's forte was standing up hitting a snare drum very hard and looking interesting.
We have no intention of retracing the steps from obscurity to maturity. There are many Primal Scream sites that do an excellent job of that. But, to bring you up to date to the time that this article is being written (2005), Primal Scream are still going strong. They are still highly regarded. They still bring out albums that challenge and Gillespie is vocal, polemical, angry and respected.
And after 20 years in the music business, that's damn good going.