Primal Scream Unleashes Controversial 'Evil Heat'

Excerpted from the magazine for

Few acts can still genuinely claim to be relevant 18 years into a recording career, but with seven genre-straddling albums under its belt -- and following raging controversy post-Sept. 11, 2001 -- indie-rocker-cum-psychedelic-electronica exponent Primal Scream is proving to be as uncompromising as ever.

"It's a masterpiece," says Columbia's London-based international marketing manager Charlotta Wagert, describing the band's latest set, "Evil Heat."

Boasting a stellar cast of collaborators, including Robert Plant and Kate Moss, "Evil Heat" was released Aug. 5 internationally, debuting at No. 9 in the U.K. a week later. The set was issued Nov. 26 in the U.S. via Epic.

"Despite 'Evil Heat's' many influences and musical diversity," Wagert continues, "the overall feel of the album is extremely cohesive."

Controversy has surrounded the album from the outset, following the live premiere of the track "Bomb the Pentagon" shortly before Sept. 11, 2001. Completely re-recorded and re-written, it now appears on 'Evil Heat' as "Rise."

There was a period of time before confirming a deal with Epic when it appeared that the album might not see the light of day in the U.S. "There was never a doubt that we'd put this record out in the States," says Rab Andrew, who handles the band for Glasgow, Scotland-based GR Management.

A decade since its breakthrough album, "Screamadelica" (1991), won the coveted Mercury Music Prize, and with such U.S. talent as the Strokes and the White Stripes in vogue, the question remains whether Primal Scream can reach the sales peak it experienced 11 years ago. Martin Duffy, keyboard player and longtime member, is unfazed. "There has never been any pressure to better 'Screamadelica,' just to better ourselves."

Considering the new wave of U.S. competition, Duffy jokes that it's like "a new bunch of kids influenced by an old bunch of kids, instead of an ancient bunch of kids influenced by a dead bunch of kids."

"Evil Heat" sees core band members Duffy, Bobbie Gillespie, Andrew Innes, Robert Young, and Gary "Mani" Mounfield augmented by My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields and joined by an array of collaborators.

Alongside former Led Zeppelin frontman Plant, who plays harmonica on "The Lord Is My Shotgun," and supermodel Moss' duet with Gillespie on the Lee Hazlewood cover "Some Velvet Morning," stands the considerable production skills of David Holmes, Jagz Kooner, and Andy Weatherall, the last of whom reinvented the band's sound in 1990 with his dance mix of the band's "Loaded" single.

"Robert Plant lives nearby our studio," Duffy says. "We're always bumping into each other, and we all know he's an amazing blues harpist, so we couldn't resist asking him. And we've known Kate Moss for years. The Scream had never done a duet before, and in keeping with the Hazelwood original, she fills those boots of Nancy Sinatra beautifully."

Primal Scream has been busy promoting "Evil Heat." Upon the album's international release, the band played the summer festival circuit, most notably Denmark's Roskilde Festival, as well as V2002 Festival in Chelmsford, England. Since then the band has been on a concert trek through Europe; a series of stateside dates is being eyed for late 2002/early 2003.

"We love playing in the U.S. Compared to Europe, it's not a tour -- it's a road movie!" Duffy says with a laugh.

Excerpted from the Dec. 7, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the members section.

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