Going For A Song: ‘Kowalski’

Primal Scream – Kowalski

As the 20th anniversary of Spiritualized’s Ladies and Gentlemen passed without much fanfare this year, so did the 20th anniversary of Primal Scream’s Vanishing Point. Could be reasons why this occurred was Radiohead’s Ok Computer reaching the same landmark and taking all the focus of the music press and radio; and/or (I mentioned this still underdeveloped theory a couple of years ago) that the narrative of Britpop and its counter narrative has become so set that albums like Vanishing Point and Ladies and Gentlemen can only be given a minor role lest they disrupt them; never mind those albums critical and commercial success at the time. So I’m claiming Vanishing Point as one of the best albums released in the latter half of the nineties.

Listening to Vanishing Point today, songs like ‘Medication’, ‘Star’, ‘Motorhead’ sound like Primal Scream working themselves out of the Stones rock of their last album, Give Out But Don’t Give Up. What they break through to are songs such as ‘Burning Wheel’, ‘If They Move, Kill ‘Em’ and ‘ Kowalski’.

Vanishing Point, the film, which influenced the album can (kind of) work as a metaphor for Primal Scream from this point: the acceleration and experimentation on Vanishing Point (the album) continuing to the equally superb XTRMTR, a slight application of the brakes by Evil Heat (an album that failed to make an impression on me), then a full (crash) stop with a return to the Stones rock of the Riot City Blues album, where I and Primal Scream parted ways. It was a good journey while it lasted.

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