#73. Primal Scream – ‘First Name Unknown’ (1997)

The electric sitar, the demigod, the super-driver of the golden west.

Well, it’s a dub-ified remix of ‘Kowalski’, the sort-of title track from the Scream’s 1997 album Vanishing Point, courtesy of  Adrian Sherwood. And note that ‘Kowalski’ itself was basically a remix of the heavier drum section of Can’s ‘Halleluwah’ with voice samples of the blind radio DJ from the album’s namesake cult car chase flick laid over the top.

Primal Scream are one of my favourite bands but I sometimes have to stop and wonder what half the band’s actual involvement was in the recording of their more electronically-oriented albums like Screamadelica and Vanishing Point was, with the amount of samples and drum loops being used and guest appearances from everybody from Jah Wobble to Augustus Pablo to George Clinton and, um, Kate Moss.

Anyway, so the story goes, sometime in late ’97, Jaki Liebezeit, Can’s drummer, told Scream main man Bobby Gillespie, who’d given him a copy of the ‘Kowalski’ single, that he really liked the drumming on the song, not realising that it was a sample of his own drumming. This then, apparently, led to a drunken jam with Gillespie, Leibeziet, can guitarist Michael Karoli, Scream guitarist Andrew Innes, and somehow, Liam Gallagher, you know, the dumb one with the walk who probably isn’t anywhere near as dumb as he lets on, playing keys. Liam had no idea who Karoli was but he trusted Bobby’s judgement. Because whenever he wasn’t trying to be Ian Brown in the early ’90s he was probably sweating his nuts off at some miscellaneous venue while ‘Loaded’ or ‘Come Together’ filled the room and that is that.

There’s a whole album of this stuff, Echo Dek, which came out a few months after Vanishing Point did, and it’s made up of cavernously-reverbed remixes of most of the tracks on that album, all done by Sherwood. It’s not super-obscure (or even particularly hard to find a physical copy) but Echo Dek isn’t for everyone. I’m aware of that. Now. I put it on in the car on the way to Paradise Festival late last year and the two friends I had in the car with weren’t into it. Well, that incident at least reminded me of the fact that music like this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But it’s mine, some of the time.

Julian Cope didn’t like Echo Dek but he’s an ageing art punk dude who dresses like Zakk Wylde for some reason. He’s perhaps the number one authority on all things seventies, German and experimental, though. So I can’t and won’t say anything meaner than that about him. As far as ’90s dub remixes of already very dubby British albums go, I like rate Echo Dek up there with No Protection and that is that. Although, unlike No Protection, in the case of Echo Dek I still wholeheartedly prefer the original album from which it was derived.

Lots of tangents today….but, yeah, a choice cut from one of the better (in my opinion) remix albums of the mid-late ’90s.


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