The new issue of NME celebrates the 20th anniversary of Primal Scream’s ‘Screamadelica’. Here, producer Andrew Weatherall looks back on the album that launched a dance-rock revolution
Before I met Primal Scream in 1989, I wasn’t a massive fan. I’d seen them skulking in the corners of clubs. My manager (and Creation Records press officer) Jeff Barrett had given me a copy of the second album, the one with ‘I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have’ on it. He couldn’t get any press on it or anything, everybody hated it. I took it away and I think I was literally the only person in the world that liked it!
It was [Scream guitarist] Andrew Innes who first suggested I do a remix for them. It was in the chillout lounge at a club called Spectrum, with Alex Patterson [The Orb] DJ’ing – I remember whale noises. I wasn’t daunted by the idea, because I was so inexperienced, I didn’t realise how little I knew. I didn’t know how to programme drum machines – but I knew what worked on the dancefloor.
I was being asked to do it because I’d been off my napper in nightclubs. I knew how a record should work, and that’s what I did. I did one attempt on it [‘Loaded’] and I was a little bit polite. I didn’t want to offend anyone, you know? The second time I went all out and we got it right.
I had no idea how big the song would get. It was very slow. And there was a north-south divide then – the BPMs in the south were slower than in the north, and I just thought a 95bpm jiggly-shuffler would be a localised thing. Very wrong. I mean, I was still looking for jobs [while doing ‘Loaded’]. I remember going for an interview doing press at London Records with a test pressing of it under my arm!
When I first played the finished version at [west London club] Subterania, it was one of those moments. Mick Jones [The Clash] came up to me afterwards asking about it. It was preaching to the converted – 400-500 people, most of whom were part of the burgeoning scene. I was just glad I’d made a record that had been accepted by my peers.
After ‘Loaded’, I just carried on [remixing ‘Screamadelica’] in my bumbling, ignorant, up-myself kind of way. Looking back, my arrogance makes me wince, but I would never have had the confidence to do it if I didn’t have that kind of attitude. In a few months I’d gone from basically bumming around to all of a sudden being part of a proper scene. I was at the centre of the cyclone and loving it.
There was a lot of luck involved. But that’s why ‘Screamadelica’ is such a magic album. It’s one of those times when lots of random molecules bump into each other. That doesn’t happen every day, and it just shows you the random nature of how we did that record. The best albums are like that.
Do I still listen to it much today? No. Maybe I’ll hear it somewhere in a shop or it’ll come on random shuffle at home, and it always sounds good. I heard ‘Shine Like Stars’, and it was quite moving. I don’t sit down and play it from beginning to end. I’ll play one or two tracks a couple of times a year, I’d imagine.
But it would be churlish to say that I’m not happy with it, you know? I mean, that I’ve been part of a record that still resonates 20 years down the line. My favourite records resonate from 50 years ago, so its good to know that I could be part of something that hopefully will go on for another 20, 30 years.
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Pick up the new issue of NME, on sale Wednesday February 2, for the full jaw-dropping story of ‘Screamadelica’, including new interviews with all the key players