Re-invention of the wheel can lead to an entirely different road. Widely heralded for definitive genre absorption at the time, Screamadelica sounds great today beyond the confines of its defining singles. It’s cohesive across a wide spectrum of sound, and I’m impressed by how catchy, euphoric and desolate its composite parts can be. Factually speaking, Andrew Weatherall, the Orb, Denise Johnson and Jah Wobble are audible here. The resultant rock, rave and gospel aesthetics shine in unison.
“Inner Flight” has a 2000AD-like affect (I’m typing in a train on an indoor platform at Birmingham station). There’s spaciousness akin to that displayed by Weatherall’s Sabres of Paradise project with hints of 1960s San Francisco and the epic soundtrack feel that the Verve would later unveil on “Bittersweet Symphony.” “Damaged” seems scorched but reflects fondly. One could make an obvious and entirely complementary analogy with the Rolling Stones’ Let it Bleed. The Orb-produced “Higher than the Sun” is incredibly atmospheric while conveying a massive sense of release when the beat kicks in. Like Ian McCulloch, Bobby Gillespie manages to vocalize with shades of weariness and cynicism while still seeming every bit the archetypal great rock singer. The 13th Floor Elevators adaptation “Slip Inside This House” conveys an imbalanced sleekness.
Of course, there are landmark hits too. “Moving on Up” and “Loaded” are anthemic at the apex of rock and roll pomp in the vein of the MC5 and Exile on Main Street, Atlantic co-opted spiritual abandon and crescendo heavy dance euphoria. “Come Together” makes cross-pollination its message as Parliament style congregation (check out the brilliant baggy-country gospel of the alternate Gillespie-led single version too). Extravagantly messy but all in. There couldn’t be a more fitting band T-shirt for John Simm’s wardrobe in Human Traffic.
The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street
The Sabres of Paradise – Sabresonic II
Aretha Franklin – I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You