Nevermind Nirvana – it’s 20 years since the release of Screamadelica

With all the recent archive footage, interviews, film releases, CD reissues and over all blanket media coverage it would be easy to believe that there’s just one major 20th anniversary this year.  Sure Nevermind single handedly propelled grunge into the mainstream and indie music became excepted by the masses and was never the same again.  But not every one was listening to grunge music back in the early 90’s? After all it was just a nihilistic, riff heavy type of punk rock, history reinventing itself for a new generation of disillusioned teenagers.

The real music revolution was happening on the beaches of Ibiza, in the warehouses of London and the clubs of Chicago.  Acid House filtered out of the psychedelic parties of the music and drug experimentalists of the late 80s and exploded into the mainstream around the same time Nirvana were asking to be entertained!  Imagine if Kurt had discovered ecstasy and not heroin?   The dichotomy could hardly be more contrasting, two burgeoning youth movements, one based on alienation and anger, the other based on partying and self-expression.  The acid house counter-revolution offered new ideas, hope and a bloody good time to those that switched on.  A brand new movement that had no past and no precedent, its manifestation belonged to the youth and like all-powerful underground trends it scared the shit out of the establishment.

Many will say that the acid house explosion was purely down to the drugs.  Without ecstasy it was pretentious, elitist, narcissistic and musically stunted.  The sheer longevity of house music and its many derivative forms clearly dispels those theories, although the arrival of Primal Scream’s masterpiece, Screamdelica, was the catalyst for musical acceptance and the album that crashed through to the mainstream, dragging millions of rock and indie fans into house clubs and dance parties.

Produced by electronic trailblazer, Andrew Weatherall, Screamaldelica effortlessly bridged the gap between Memphis and Madchester, integrating the anthemic and bluesy strains of rock with the rush and euphoria of house.  Although many other musical styles were deconstructed into the mix, including, gospel, funk and the blissed out rhythms of dub.

It didn’t sell bucket loads on its initial release, 23 September – UK & 8 October – USA, even though the music critics loved it.  It finished at the top, or very near, on the best album awards, for the year and decade, and has been widely recognised as one of the most influential albums of the last 20 years.  It didn‘t sell nearly as much as Nevermind but had Bobby Gillespie killed himself in 1994 who knows?   


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