Pop: The Primals strike again

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Primal Scream with special guests Asian Dub Foundation

In aid of Liverpool dockers

At Friday's Oasis gig, Noel Gallagher shouted at the crowd to donate some money to the dockers. Tonight, Primal Scream are doing much more.

Back in 1992, The Orb and Primal Scream raised pounds 36,000 for jobless miners at a benefit concert in Sheffield. It says a lot about Primal Scream. When they won the Mercury Music Prize in 1992 for Screamadelica, a biker was sent on stage to collect the prize, but the pounds 20,000 was lost within 20 minutes. Corporate shenanigans and money matters are not something they care about. At the time they released a press statemement saying: "Primal Scream are to music what George Best was to football: young, sexy and dangerous".

Primal Scream are a rare phenomenon. They have gone from guitar-led ballads, to psychedelic dance mixes to rock - all in a 13 year career. Their debut album, Sonic Flower Groove and later Primal Scream featured head muddling and heart-breaking lyrics sung along to indie music. Then producer Andrew Weatherall remixed "I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have" to create "Loaded". The album Screamadelica followed in 1991. At a time when dance music was breaking into the mainstream the album became legendary for its accessibility to both indie kids and ravers.

Even with the huge success of Screamadelica, Primal Scream didn't bow to market forces. The 1994 album Give Out But Don't Give Up was retro- rock recorded in Memphis, produced by veterans Tom Dowd and George Clinton and featured the Muscle Shoals band who backed Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett. Label owner Alan McGee from Creation has said that unlike Oasis, Primal Scream don't have enough hunger for success. "Would we come out with the sound of a junkyard having a nervous breakdown if we were interested in our careers," says vocalist Bobby Gillespie.

This year's Vanishing Point marks another progression, flirting with some dub influences. "Music's music," says Gillespie. "What all these artists have in common is passion, and passion is never old-fashioned." The ingredients of Primal Scream's passions have been fully documented and amount to all the rock 'n' roll excess of the sixties rolled into one - like the time Throbert was so intoxicated in America that he didn't realise that he had been stabbed for four days. Scream appeared to speak from self-knowledge when they called River Phoenix, who died from an overdose, a "lightweight".

Without shouting from the Abbey Road roof-tops, promoting themselves incessantly or playing to popular taste, Primal Scream have established a fervent following. Not surprising really for a band who are cool enough to get Kate Moss to pose as a deranged lesbian killer and Irvine Welsh as a sickened voyeur in their video.

ULU, Mallet Street, W1, London (0171-580 9551). 7.30pm onwards. All proceeds donated the Liverpool dockers

Jennifer Rodger

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