Being middle-aged blows.  As I start sputter out of my mid-30s, the number of things that show up on a daily basis to remind me of a youth long gone is practically immeasurable.  It’s no coincidence that every day someone pays a Star Wars tribute, issues a ‘90s remastered album, or tries to reboot something old (like that upcoming “Battleship” movie – that’s right, a retarded movie based on a bloody board game).

 

I recently watched Primal Scream’s “Screamadelica Live”.  I’d held off on watching this live show for a while.  Not because I’m waning in my interest of Primal Scream.  On the contrary, I’ve always been – and still am – vocal about my fondness for Primal Scream.  I’ve used the Screamadelica album cover as my virtual identifier for as long as I can remember.  When I created my first online profile – fuck if I remember what that was for, probably something massively nerdy like membership to some online forum where I could get cheat codes to a video game or something – I used the Screamadelica cover art as my avatar.  I’ve used it ever since, never wandering from that commitment.  I fucking love Primal Scream.

And so when Screamadelica hit its 20th anniversary, several things hit me at once: a) my God, there’s no way that album is that old, b) holy shit, I’m old, c) is it really all it’s cracked up to be twenty years on?

To mark the event, Primal Scream went all out.  Pricey boxed sets with tons of b-sides and demos.  They came alive on Twitter.  They went on tour, playing the entire Screamadelica album end to end.  On this, I’m incredibly biased – any other band, I’d have accused them of selling out and cashing in on some antiquated past-its-sell-by-date material.  But this was Primal Scream.  More importantly, this was Screamadelica.  This was my favorite band – it couldn’t possibly be about cashing in, could it.  This was about paying the right tribute to such a game-changing album.  I make excuses like that for Primal Scream.

I also keep Screamadelica in some strange, divine regard like that.  As if it wasn’t created by a bunch of drugged out Scotsmen, but by some otherworldly deity and was personally handed to me.  Like when some broad in the pond handed Arthur that watery sword.  Of if Salma Hayek handed you her underwear.  Something like that.  As if I was the only person to like Screamadelica – like fuck I am.  But to most people – here Stateside, at least – neither band nor album creates little if any sense of interest or familiarity.  Ask anyone what are some milestone albums or acts in the past two decades and you’re gonna get a lot of predictable answers.  People cite shit like Radiohead Nirvana, Pearl Jam, whatever, the list goes on and on.  No one ever cites Primal Scream.  No one ever cites Screamadelica.  It doesn’t even register on something like SPIN magazine’s 125 Best Albums Of The Past 25 Years.

Maybe that’s what adds to some of my precious regard for Screamdelica.  It’s mine, I don’t have to share it or them with anyone. …And because of that, I do concede that Primal Scream and Screamadelica might just be another component to my narcissism.  But I want to believe that they’re important to me for more than that.  I mean, this is 20 years of listening to the same 11 songs frequently and not feeling one iota of boredom out of it.

To me, Screamadelica is every bit superb today as it was in 1991.

Screamadelica does for me what no other album has ever been able to do.  At the risk of being somewhat sacrilegious, it is more important to me than the likes of The Stone Roses’ debut album (I just felt a punch in the face for that statement), Nirvana’s Nevermind, Massive Attack’s Blue Lines, and so on.

So many things were so right about “Screamadelica Live” when I finally watched it.  For the most part, the live performance remained faithful to the original album.  It’s not like they pulled something incredibly assy like turn “Movin’ On Up” into some Enya-like dirge.  But also unlike a band like Van Halen, who tend to play their live songs note-for-note as heard on the album (what’s the fucking point), Primal Scream did a brilliant job enhancing each song with some extra magic.  I wanna believe that magic is Mani.  “Loaded” is peppered with a brief homage to the Stones’ “Sympathy For The Devil”.  Similarly, “Higher Than The Sun” breaks into some brilliant where’d-that-come-from “Whole Lotta Love” interlude.  The Terry Farley version of “Come Together” (the version superior to the one on the UK album) is one (rightfully) chosen to play live.  As if their cover of “Slip Into This House” wasn’t superb enough on the album, they took it to insane new levels live.  Everything about every song is so fucking right.  Not one note is out of character.  Not one song is ruined live.  Not one song feels played out 20 years on.

Screamadelica stands up.  It stands up to 20 years of repeated play.  It stands up when it’s all played live, dubs and all.  It continues to be brilliant.  And because of that, it makes me so incredibly… sad.  Sad because I may never listen to another album of its caliber again.  Over the last 20 years, look at all the shit that’s come and gone – grunge, emo, nu-metal, auto-tune, it just gets worse and worse.  Maybe Screamadelica is as good as it’s gonna get.  And no one fucking gives a shit about it.

Thing is, I can’t possibly put it any better than Jeremy Clarkson in this clip from Top Gear.  It is completely analogous to how I feel about Screamadelica.  Clarkson’s take on the Aston Martin V12 Vantage is precisely how I feel about Screamadelica.