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Riot City Blues
     

Riot City Blues

by Primal Scream
 

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Primal Scream major-domo Bobby Gillespie has steered his ship through all manner of choppy musical waters over the years, from MC5-inspired bashing to woozy electronica to brittle industrial techno. But no matter what the context, one thing remains constant in Gillespie's sonic vision: His music is meant to convey (and enhance) a mood of substance

Overview

Primal Scream major-domo Bobby Gillespie has steered his ship through all manner of choppy musical waters over the years, from MC5-inspired bashing to woozy electronica to brittle industrial techno. But no matter what the context, one thing remains constant in Gillespie's sonic vision: His music is meant to convey (and enhance) a mood of substance-fueled revelry and/or dissipation. That's certainly the case on Riot City Blues, a raw-boned set that recalls the Rolling Stones circa Sticky Fingers, both in its sound -- which leans heavily on country-blues influences -- and its vibe, a celebration of debauchery the likes of which don't come along often these days. The raucous "Country Girl" -- on which it's easy to imagine beer bottles breaking in the background -- sets the tone perfectly, with mandolins and twangy guitars framing Gillespie's booze-soaked drawl in smoky tones. What follows is, by and large, meat-and-potatoes rock with roots about as deep as redwoods. Sometimes, as on "Sweet Rock and Roll" and "We're Gonna Boogie," it's necessary to tune out Gillespie's simplistic lyrical stance in order to concentrate on the riffage at hand. Then again, the singer manages to tap into some primordial emotion when he's in the mood, most notably on the aching closer, "Sometimes I Feel So Lonely." It's that confluence of moods -- boozy bacchanalia and hung-over regret -- that makes Riot City Blues so easy to relate to, and get lost in.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
If at first you don't succeed, try again. Riot City Blues is another attempt at straight-up trad rock where the ghosts of the Faces, the Rolling Stones, and others come traipsing into Bobby Gillespie's scope and he goes for it. Some heard an overly strenuous attempt at this on 1994's Give Out But Don't Give Up, where it worked not at all due to the band's attempt at literally mimicking the sounds of the aforementioned bands without adding anything else to the mix. Riot City Blues is a much more relaxed effort, and benefits significantly from that stance. Yeah, it's true that on first listen "Country Girl," the album's opener, sounds like an in-the-studio gathering of the Stones and the Faces riotously attempting a country gospel song -- but on deeper observation, it feels more like Delaney & Bonnie & Friends on Motel Shot. The straight-up raw boogie rock of "Nitty Gritty" takes the Delaney & Bonnie move even deeper and brings elements of R&B into the equation. This is late-night drunken rockism. It's not carefully crafted; it's throwing something at the wall because it's there to throw. Riot City Blues is not an "album as event" as many past Primal Scream records were; this is an "album for its own sake" recording. It's an offering where it really seems that Gillespie doesn't care if he loses his hipster following -- all that matters is that Riot City Blues rocks. One can hear traces of not only the Faces but everything from early Alice Cooper (à la Killer) to Mott the Hoople, David Bowie, the Kinks, the New York Dolls, and a whole lot of other rock & roll bands. Looser than the Black Crowes, thinner than even the Black Keys; it's simply shambolic from top to bottom. This is trashy, nasty rock music that doesn't feel modern but it does feel timeless. The songs are riff-centric, some of them joyous, others darkly freaky -- "When the Bomb Drops" is a fine example, and the complete dope and guitar orgy of "Suicide Sally & Johnny Guitar" is in the red zone in the same way "Suffragette City" is. (One can feel the gigantic pub-crawling smile of Mick Ronson from some strange Valhalla.) Most of the tracks here were produced by ex-Killing Joke bassist/Orb collaborator Youth, with a pair recorded and produced by the rather less intense Andrew Innes. Whether "We're Gonna Boogie," with its bluesy harmonica and slide guitar -- with Bobby Gillespie sounding like Donovan singing the Stones' "Country Honk" -- is taking the piss or not is debatable, but it's a gas to listen to, as is the down-home "Hell's Comin' Down," with its fiddle (courtesy of the Dirty Three and Bad Seeds' Warren Ellis), high-strung guitars, 12-strings, and mandolins. The 12-bar blues formula used on the latter cut is particularly refreshing. "Dolls" is such a raucous joy that it's infectious. It's a given that Riot City Blues, issued in 2006, is easily the most unhip record Primal Scream have ever issued. The songs are little more than dressing for the riffs, but they have lots of humor and cleverness and they lack the snide hipsterism of the times. It doesn't matter. Listened to with an open mind, it's a refreshingly retro rock & roll album that uses its waste-oid imagination in capturing every fantasy that entered Bobby Gillespie's teenage mind. Get it. [The U.S. edition of the album includes three bonus tracks (including a cover of John Lennon's "Gimme Some Truth") and the "non censored" version of the "Country Girl" video.]

Product Details

Release Date:
08/22/2006
Label:
Sony
UPC:
0828768851326
catalogNumber:
88513

Tracks

  1. Country Girl
  2. Nitty Gritty
  3. Suicide Sally & Johnny Guitar
  4. When the Bomb Drops
  5. Little Death
  6. The 99th Floor
  7. We're Gonna Boogie
  8. Dolls (Sweet Rock and Roll)
  9. Hell's Comin' Down
  10. Sometimes I Feel So Lonely
  11. Stone Ya to the Bone
  12. Gimme Some Truth
  13. Suicide Sally & Johnny Guitar
  14. Country Girl

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Primal Scream   Primary Artist
Martin Duffy   Organ,Harmonica,Piano,Harmonium,Group Member
Warren Ellis   Violin
Bobby Gillespie   Vocals,Group Member
Andrew Innes   Banjo,Guitar,Mandolin,Moog Synthesizer,Group Member
Will Sergeant   Guitar
Gary Mounfield   Bass Guitar,Group Member
Julie Roberts   Background Vocals
John Gibbons   Background Vocals
Robert Young   Guitar,Harmonica,Group Member
Alison Mosshart   Vocals
Sharlene Hector   Background Vocals
Darrin Mooney   Percussion,Drums,Group Member
Chris Allen   Hurdy-Gurdy
Sylvia Mason James   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

John Lennon   Composer
Primal Scream   Composer,Engineer
Youth   Producer,Audio Production
Tim Bran   Programming
Clive Goddard   Engineer
Andrew Innes   Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Greg Gordon   Engineer
Ryan Castle   Engineer
Chris Denman   Producer

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