Primal Scream - Echo Dek

THEY HAD TO DO IT, DIDN'T they? After their summer of bloody summers, with all the f??ed-up gigs, the mislaid drummer, the reborn bass hero and the acclaimed album, Primal Scream would simply have to cap it all by doing something silly. Like, how about releasing a poorly spelt dub album, right, and we'll bung it out on CD, and we'll stick it out in a bloody nice box with the nine tracks spread across five seven-inch singles?


Of course, the great thing about the Scream is that you just never ever know what the crazy little cats are going to do next. Speaking as someone sufficiently useless that he still considers 1986's 'Velocity Girl' (a Primals' B-side, natch) to be one of the all-time greats, the past decade has seen the Screamers bound their cavalier way underground, overground and rumbling free. They have been psychedelic. They have been whimsical. They have done some work for charidee. They have been chaotic, experimental and on the brink of collapse. And how do we show our gratitude? Put it this way: their highest chart placing was for the turgid neo-metal orthodoxy of 'Rocks'.

See, at the end of the boggly-eyed dance experience, the record-buying public will always go for Status Quo over Augustus Pablo. Funny little buggers, you might surmise, but nowhere near as funny as the particular little bugger 'Echo Dek'. For herewith is a nine-track reappraisal of the 'Vanishing Point' album, courtesy of Adrian Sherwood and his On-U Sound System.

Essentially a smashing idea - yet another opportunity for the good ship Scream to sail even further out 'there', man - is slightly scuppered by the fact that 'Vanishing Point' itself was so babblingly out 'there', man, that we feared that Primal Scream would never make it back to Reality Island. So what the heck can Sherwood do to the likes of 'Kowalski' and 'Trainspotting' that hasn't been mercilessly done already?

The answer? Not a lot, really. Resisting the urge to tackle 'If They Move, Kill 'Em', the manic 'Motorhead' or the freshly Chemicalized 'Burning Wheel', Sherwood is left to fiddle with the remaining eight tracks. 'Stuka' is the lucky fella that gets not one but two work overs, not the most extreme example of overindulgence on display, as Sherwood digs out tricks from his dub rucksack and lavishes some familiar noises with new names.

When it's good, 'Echo Dek' is dazzling. Around the point where 'Revolutionary' (aka 'Star') meets 'JU-87' (aka 'Stuka') the effects are incredible, a full bloodrush of freaky extravagance. But take much of 'Echo Dek' out of the context of the Primals' lifestyle - ie, playing it at top bastard volume on top bastard narcotics in a top bastard recording studio and screaming, "LIKE, WOW! ISN'T THIS A TOP BASTARD REMIX!!" - and this collection slips serenely back into funny little bugger mode.

There are doses of mystical mayhem - cue the tablas of 'Vanishing Dub', aka 'Out Of The Void'. There are moments of severe de-rocking - cue the distinctly calm 'Dub In Vain', last seen around these parts as the cock-strutting 'Medication'. There is also the smashingly messy 'First Name Unknown', otherwise called 'Kowalski'. And that's pretty much the long, short and all-Vanishing Points-in between of it all.

So you have 'Vanishing Point' placed proudly between the CD player and the leaping dolphin matchstick holder. You consider it to contain some sincerely f??ed-up funky shit. You may well consider this, its odd little brother, to be a less than essential purchase. But then this is what happens when the drugs don't really work.


Simon Williams