Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Primal Scream - Riot City Blues - 3.2

It's as if Primal Scream have run completely out of ideas and so they've reverted to the detestable fallbacks of honking harmonicas and bar-band choogles, acting like college freshmen who just discovered blues.

Riot City Blues is a stinker. It makes Give Out But Don't Give Up look like an honest to Jon classic. In fact it sounds like that band of college freshman Breihan spoke of covering that earlier album with excruciating sincerity and minimal skill. Sadly the thing this album most reminded me of was a recent party I attended which featured a horrible band in the back yard, who played the most stilted blues rock you could imagine, and who had the unfortunate name, I shit you not, Whisky Business. Ugh.

Tom Breihan pretty much nails this one and kudos for that. I probably have a tendency to go a little mean when I don't like something, but Breihan isn't harsh here and seems to be in the same boat as me with this one. You can't help but lament for a band that has made some good music for a long time. Evil Heat made me suspicious, but Riot City Blues proves that Primal Scream is completely out of artistic capital. As I say this, keep in mind that I think that Primal Scream has made one great album that, defying all odds, has not aged as badly as it should have (Screamadelica) and two very good albums that I still listen to (Vanishing Point and XTRMNTR).

I don't take any joy in pronouncing this one dead on arrival but there is no denying that it is way below the career standards of Gillespie and Co. 19 years of making good to excellent music is nothing to scoff at and I tip my imaginary hat to them. But now seems like the time to hang the guitar on the wall and try your hand at producing or A&R or animal husbandry.

Blues rock is a tricky proposition to start with, but when it is so watered down and milquetoast as presented here I can't stomach it. More or less the Stones "perfected" this exact album 35 years ago with Sticky Fingers. So why try to remake it not just once, but twice?!? And to add insult to injury you already did a respectable job twelve years ago. This just feels like scraping the bottom of the barrel. Listen to 'Dolls' and tell me this is worth your time and money. No Way.

3.2 seems very kind to me. There is little or redeeming value here. If each percentage point represents one thing to like about a record I would put this one around the dreaded 1.0, and that is more or less based on the kid with snake cover.