“I was blind, now I can see
You made a believer, out of me”
The first time I saw Primal Scream, they were twee-as-fuck, dressed in tight jeans, flowery shirts and Cuban heels (the Love Da Capo era look to be precise).
Primal Scream at this time invented The Stone Roses with Velocity Girl, not something to be sniffed at. Lanky frontman Bobby Gillespie had just finished his Moe Tucker shtick playing with those revolutionaries The Jesus & Mary Chain.
A couple of years later I catch the band in Stooges phase, black leather, Marshall stacks and fucking loud – I am deaf for a week. Primal Scream don’t convince as the MC5. The band lives in Brighton and has a rep. of being dangerous. So says my then girlfriend who knew them (I think she had a fling with the guitarist). I shared a train carriage from London to Brighton with the band at that time, they were full of stares and attitude.
“I’m movin’ on up now
Gettin’ out of the darkness
My light shines on”
But once they turned their back on indie rock, Bobby would for a time, become the cheap-stakes Jagger. And why not? Like Keith’s riffs, there’s more than enough swagger and attitude in the Stones for some of it to be spread around. And lets face it, Primal Scream would only re-invent the wheel by accident (and a fair amount of Andy Weatherall and others).
Movin’ On Up is one of two songs that soundwise don’t really fit on Screamadelica – the other being another Rolling Stones influenced track Damaged. These are the tracks untouched by key Screamadelica collaborator Weatherall. Jimmy Miller (if you want the Stones sound then go to the guy that got it) re-stages a version of Let it Bleed with a Glasgow bent. And it’s on this great gospel tinged din where Primal Scream finally leave indie rock behind and find their inner rock’n’roll for the first time.
Forget the Stooges period, that was rubbish. This was Bobby and co giving as good as they got. And lets be honest, the real Stones hadn’t sounded this good for years. And to think Primal Scream still had Rocks to come. Who’d have guessed the skinny kid who couldn’t sing would become the rock’n’roll singer of the pre-britpop era. Weird.
“I was lost, now I’m found
I believe in you, I got no bounds”
Movin’ On Up still works in a euphoric way. In some way the song charts the rise of Primal Scream as they enter the world of stadium tours, expensive drugs, supermodel duets and being taken seriously as a rock’n’roll band (if that’s what you want out of life).
Funnily enough, I never felt the band were that convinced themselves at being rock stars. Bobby G has always seemed too intelligent and had too much of an interest in other musical sub-cultures to just be happy being in a tribute Stones band. The fact that Movin’ On Up borrows lyrics from Can’s You Do Right showcases Gillespie’s own interests in the esoteric, which would come to the fore on subsequent releases.
Surprisingly, the classic sound of Movin’ On Up has endured better than most tracks on the often groundbreaking, yet now dated sounding Screamadelica. Movin’ On Up was the start of a slow process for Primal Scream of getting the Stones out of their system so they could finally get to the extraordinary sound experiments of XTRMNTR. As exorcisms go, Movin’ on Up is a blast.