Late Night Stargazing

I see Primal Scream have announced a tour where they will play two sets; one: a greatest hits set, and two: where they will play their iconic and ground-breaking Screamadelica album in it’s entirety, as it reaches it’s 30the anniversary.

They say as you get older, time seems to pass more quickly; not a view I’ve ever subscribed to until I found myself thinking: “What again??” at the aforementioned news, as it seems like just a couple of years ago that Hel and I went see them play exactly the same set at Olympia to mark the imminent 20th anniversary of the very same album. And that, the internet gleefully tells me, was in November 2010, the night so successful that the band set off on a full tour doing more of the same the following year.

There will be differences this time round, of course: for a start, bassist Mani quit the band at the end of that tour, to rejoin his previous band The Stone Roses, who were set to reform. I wonder how that went…

The other way will be that when Hel and I went we were treated to DJ sets by Andrew Weatherall, at the start of the night and in between the greatest hits and album sets. He won’t be there for a much sadder, and more irreversible, reason than Mani.

Anyway, on Friday night, partly to mark this latest milestone, and partly because they had just played this weekend’s Isle of Wight Festival which they were showing “live” footage from, Sky Arts showed the Classic Albums documentary about the making of Screamadelica.

I’ve seen it before, but it’s a really great little programme, including interviews of all the main players, and plenty of never-seen-before footage of the band at the time.

The key moment is, of course, when the band give tonight’s song to Weatherall and ask him to remix it for them. Weatherall recalls how he tried six or seven times, couldn’t get it right, and that lead Screamer Bobby Gillespie had turned his nose up at them when he played them back to him.

Sensing that perhaps Weatherall was perhaps being a little too respectful of the original song, Gillespie reportedly said “Nah, man, smash it the fuck up, do what you want to it.”

And so Loaded was born.

But you all know that – and doubtless all know this too: the song which became Loaded:

Primal Scream – I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have

That song had actually first appeared on the band’s 1989 eponymously named album, and is the stand out track amongst a load of much more rock’n’roll tunes. And it’s a song which always brings back happy memories for me too.

For back in 1989, I had begun my tenure as resident indie DJ at Uni, taking over the not particularly coveted fortnightly Tuesday night slot with my mate Danny; neither of us had any DJ’ing experience and we basically hustled and hassled the Entertainments Manager until he let us have a go.

Doors would open at 7:30, but we rarely saw anybody come in for at least another hour, still fewer would venture onto the dancefloor, no matter what we threw at them. The few that did attend, would sit in the shadows, quaffing their pints of snakebite and black and looking nervous about venturing out on to the dancefloor in case they had not picked a cool tune to cut a rug to. I’ll be honest, the night was dying on its arse until we got lucky and the phenomenon Madchester struck.

But anyway, one night, quite early on, two girls approached the DJ booth. They were called Sian (a Welsh girl) and Joan (an Irish girl) and they would, every fortnight from then on, come and ask me to play this record before it got, as they laughably described it, “too busy”.

“If you’ll dance, I’ll play it,” I told them, which seems a lot sleazier writing it as an almost 52-year old than it did saying it way back then.

“Deal.”

And so it became, in my head, Sian and Joan’s tune. And it got to the point where I would keep an eye out for them, wait until they had arrived, bought some drinks and got settled; then I would play it without them having to ask. And at the end of the record, as they made their way back off the dancefloor to their unguarded drinks, one of them would always turn and wave at us, or occasionally shout “Thank you!”, like they were getting off a bus.

Know your audience.

The following year, Joan became the first ever female DJ to regularly play at the Uni. And I know this because I gave her the job and trained her, a glass ceiling I remain immensely proud to this day that I helped her smash.

More soon.