Friday, August 08, 2008

Paul Cannell (1963 - 2005) and Primal Scream's Screamadelica


Don't Fight It, Feel It

Higher Than The Sun

Paul Cannell (16 March 1963 - 5 July 2005) was responsible for the artwork of Screamadelica-era Primal Scream. Most famous of these was the "psychedelic fried eggs" illustration for that 1991 album, which the band adopted as their logo, too; also for Primal Scream's singles from the album, such as Higher Than The Sun and Don't Fight It, Feel It. Cannell created here a sort of fascinating and mind-bending combination of bright day-glo pop art colours and symbols, primitive art, expressionism and psychedelia; essentially creating a visual equivalent for Screamadelica's po-mo mixture of 60s retro psych-pop and electronic/dub sounds, Primal Scream's finest moment so far, which briefly epitomised the early-90s British "indie meets rave" scene.

As to the music itself, infamously, a lot of the output for the album was not actually created by the band themselves (who were earlier known as The Rolling Stones/MC5 copycats; the henchman Bobby Gillespie having also previously played drums for Jesus and The Mary Chain) but by the producers and remixers such as Andy Weatherall and The Orb's Alex Paterson, while the band was concentrating on just, erm, getting higher than the sun.

One of the band's contemporaries and rivals in the early-90s neo-psychedelic dance music scene, Colin Angus of The Shamen bitterly compared in an i-D magazine interview Primal Scream with The Chocolate Watch Band, a US West Coast band of the late-60s, who similarly were rather spending their time enjoying psychedelic substances in the studio backroom while their producer Ed Cobb (the man also behind The Standells and responsible for writing Gloria Jones's 'Tainted Love', later immortalised by Soft Cell) worked out with studio musicians some dazzling baroque psych soundscapes ending up on the band's album.

Anyway, despite (or maybe because of it) this lack of "authenticity" (yawn), I'm a fan both of Screamadelica and The Chocolate Watch Band. The Shamen quickly disappeared up their own Terence McKenna-inspired cyberdelic wormhole with such god-awful singles as 'Destination Eschaton' but the Primals are still around, even though their erratic output (subsequent albums featuring in turns techno sounds and "back to the roots" pastiche country rock) has for me never again reached similar solar heights.

Back to Paul Cannell, he also created artwork for such bands as Manic Street Preachers, Shonen Knife, Flowered Up and The Telescopes. Sadly, Paul Cannell ended up taking his own life in 2005, but his vision lives on.

  • Paul Cannell interview @ Diskant
  • Paul Cannell @ The Wolf Hounds
  • Paul Cannell @ Primal Scream Webadelica

    Primal Scream's Screamadelica-era songs at YouTube:

  • 'Come Together'
  • 'Come Together' - long version (audio only)
  • 'Don't Fight It, Feel It'
  • 'Higher Than The Sun'
  • 'Higher Than The Sun' - 12" version (audio only)
  • 'Loaded'
  • 'Movin' On Up'
  • 'Slip Inside This House'