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Primal Scream

Evil Heat (Epic)

A classic of the early '90s, possibly of the same stature as Nevermind, Primal Scream's gorgeous acid-house/hippie rock remix album Screamadelica revealed that rockers and ravers could hang at the same party. A few years later, such a revelation would come to influence countless acts, especially the Chemical Brothers and Prodigy, and even the record's specific moments were seminal -- without the single "Loaded," for example, there would be no Fatboy Slim (for better or worse).

Screamadelica changed the '90s, but it changed the Primals even more, from just another retro-influenced Nuggets act into something altogether different. 2000's fierce XTRMNTR succeeded beautifully as a hard-house/punk hybrid, but Evil Heat goes further, throwing krautrock and blues into the mix and letting it simmer forcefully. "Autobahn '66" has the studio polish and beauty of a Brian Wilson record, redone as a Neu!-like epic drone. It's an impressive, innovative construction, though not as immediately engaging as Robert Plant's gonzo harmonica on "The Lord is My Shotgun" or the wild, bucking disco beat of "Miss Lucifer," complete with Bobby Gillespie's lusty "Shake it, baby." Though the Primals are over 40 now, Gillespie sings more scrappily than ever, and the rest of his band still play as if they're trying to make the material combust.

When their electro-pop cover of Lee Hazlewood's "Some Velvet Morning" rolls around with Kate Moss on vocals, the album begins to feel crowded with guest stars and flashy ideas. But they manage to strip away the excess and end Heat on a high note with the simple, hymnlike "Space Blues #2," which invokes Screamadelica's ambient grace. Overall, Evil Heat isn't quite in the same league, but it proves that Primal Scream's still capable of transcendence when the mood hits.

 
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