20 years ago today we heard a noise breaking through the dawn, familiar to the chosen few, new and dangerous to the wider crowd. Dark, dirty, original, explosive and experimental. XTRMNTR by Primal Scream crushed the dreams of many an indie kid’s Sally Cinnamon dream sunshine pop guitar ballads by releasing an album of savage proportions.
Mixing killer beats and samples, coupled with screeching rock and roll guitars, bass lines that touched the heart then searched to go in for the kill, vocals that didn’t mince it’s words chewing the soul and heart of the listener, combine these components together and you have one of the very best albums to be released by Alan McGee’s iconic Creation Records and indeed the labels final long player release.
The album opens with the chilling Kill All Hippies, co-written with Marco Nelson of Young Disciples fame, this is far from an acid jazz excursion, a completely different edge of the sword is flashed before our eyes. The songs title is sampled from 1980’s film Out of the Blue, female actor Linda Manz can be heard backed up with hardened drum loops and distorted guitars. The line-up of the band for the record was Bobby Gillespie on Vocals, Andrew Innes on Guitar, Robert ‘Throb’ Young (RIP) also on guitar, Martin Duffy on keyboards, Gary ‘Mani’ Mounfield on bass and Darrin Mooney on drums, the ingredients were all there for the nucleus of the band to create something of lasting, deep impact upon its audience, and that it exactly what they created with Kill All Hippies and XTRMNTR.
Further music hot potatoes include Accelerator, a punk rampage blending The Stooges and The Sex Pistols. The Primals at the time of playing this song in their live set used My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields to bring a sheet of white noise to proceedings, who is indeed included on the track. Further notable guests on the record include Joy Division / New Orders Bernard Sumner and producer/keyboard wizard Brendan Lynch, at the time Brendan was also producing Paul Weller.
Swastika Eye’s blends an altogether new burst of sonic energy to give serious musical debate on corporations and governments pathetic efforts to govern choice. There are a couple of songs that the band played on Jools Holland’s Later programme, specifically Swastika Eyes, to publicize the release of the album. If you click on the link below this is probably my favourite ever appearance by a band on the long running music show. They play with just the right amount of couldn’t give a toss attitude as they take the roof off the studio with their sit up straight and take note message.
Further nuggets unveil nursey rhyme type soul ballad Keep Your Dreams, written by Mani. Pills appears to be about drugs, maybe even the effects of cold turkey, whatever the background to the song it’ll take the hair’s off your chest and give you a nosebleed with the songs brutal lyrics, mixed with tripped out / savage beats. Closing track is the Kraftwerk sounding Shoot Speed / Kill Light which has tomorrows world type robot effects added to Bobby’s vocals leaving the listener wanting to start the whole voyage again as the final notes drift away from the speakers.
A remarkable, complex and diverse record, one that has received many plaudits including best album at Uncut magazines 2000 end of year polls, NME’s named it in their top 50 albums of 2000 poll, and Q magazine named it in its 50 Heaviest Albums of All Time. I personally feel the band had a certain untouchable magical in this chapter of the band, one that they have yet to touch again. Here’s hoping 20 years after the first release of XTRMNTR there might be something of equal shattering originality to enter the ring from Glasgow’s finest.