Posts from 10th December 1999

10
Dec 99

9. PRIMAL SCREAM – “Come Together (12″)”

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Tom Ewing’s Top 100 Singles Of The 90s

Primal Scream never made dance music, no matter who was turning the knobs: the ten-minute organ-drenched lope of Andrew Weatherall’s “Come Together” mix (AA-Side of this 12″, and also used on the Screamadelica album) is just as ‘rockist’ as any of their Stones pastiches or Stooges take-offs. It’s a different kind of rock, is all: slow, funky, shot through with gospel and built mostly out of samples. But up on stage performing it, Bobby Gillespie never wanted to be anyone other than Jim Morrison or Wayne Kramer.

Maybe that’s why the Screamadelica moment was the only time it really felt like rock would mutate, would be forced to come to terms with the new thing. Nirvana sorted the kids out on that one sharpish, and in truth the dance influence on rock since has been minimal or less, limited in both directions to the theft of a few licks or tricks. I wouldn’t have it any other way: Screamadelica, like most publically important albums, works better as a one-off.

Like I said, though, for a moment there I swallowed it, or it me: “Come Together” sums up that moment best. In its seven-inch Oakenfold version it’s a flimsy, runtish song, Gillespie’s reedy star-child whimperings and the gutsy gospel parts grotesquely mismatched. On Weatherall’s mix, though, Gillespie is completely absent (as usual he’s a much better conceptualist than singer) and the song is allowed to loosen up and drift a little. The samples, impeccably chosen, carry the track: “Today on this program you will hear gospel. And rhythm. And blues. And jazz….we know that music is music…”. As a manifesto for the strange free world of dance music you couldn’t do much better. Except….it was still a very classic-rock version of the music, still a way of trying to contain it by acknowledging its roots instead of its newness. Even as “Come Together” turned indie heads like mine the pop charts were being overtaken by some really rough, confrontational, uncontainable sounds. I didn’t know it, but Screamadelica‘s big melting-pot statement was dated the moment it hit the shops.

That can’t dampen the brilliance of “Come Together“, of course. It’s one of the best-constructed records ever, Gillespie and Weatherall applying everything they’d ever learned about how to work and inspire a crowd and coming up with a combination of stadium lighter-waver and Balearic anthem, an all-time feelgood track which still lights up any room it’s played in.