All posts tagged Primal Scream
As a logical segue from the recent piece on 4AD is a discussion about the other of the twin towers of British independent labels from the 1990′s – Creation Records. The two companies took very different paths in the end, with the 4AD remaining a true independent label (selling out to the equally indie, Beggars Banquet), and continuing as an entity to this day, meanwhile Creation sold to the majors (Sony), and then flamed out when the two founders – Alan McGee and Dick Green – thought the time was right, around 1999, to pack it all in – living by the live fast, die young… adage and leaving a legacy untainted by any current musical flavors du jour.
The history of the legendary Creation has been a topic of conversation this year after the debut US screenings of the documentary Upside Down: The Creation Records Story. The film, which tracks the history of Creation from the chaotic early days in the mid-80′s to the later days, which were equally chaotic, for different reason, and highlighting the status of the label – and especially McGee – as true mavericks. Upside Down also represents an amazing reflection on a very different time in the music business – a period where there were no 5-year marketing and promotion plans, no 360 deals, no American Idol, and when it truly was, more often than not, just about the music. An era, I’m sorry to say, that was in many ways infinitely more exciting. Think of bands and labels devoid of the obsession with social media, alternative income streams and the quest for that elusive TV license as an essential marketing tool, a time of seat-of-the-pants decisions, borderline craziness, and yes, the archetypal “sex, drugs and rock’n'roll”. And the documentary shows that Creation was fueled by all three.
But it was truly about the music. Fancy that – a company run by music fans – and the artists who signed recognized that, and as a result the label put out a range of some of the best tracks of the era. It is staggering to realize that Creation issued My Bloody Valentine‘s Loveless, Primal Scream‘s Screamadelica and Teenage Fanclub‘s Bandwagonesque albums, all within the space of a few weeks in 1991 – releases that are both hugely influential and legendary, and still stand up some 20 odd years later. Something tells me you’d be hard pressed to find any of the 2011 crop of indie labels such as Neon Gold or IAMSOUND releasing one album with that status or lasting impact, let along three at the same time! And then of course on Creation there are the rest… Felt, (the massive selling) Copper Blue by Sugar, along with Ride, Super Furry Animals, the Boo Radleys, Saint Etienne… the list goes on. There’s no disputing Creation did release its fair share of duds, especially in the years when they were skating on thin-ice and releasing as much as possible to keep the doors open and stave off bankruptcy, but in 2011 their iconic status still stands, in no small part due to that little band called Oasis… While there is an argument that Adele is successfully flying the flag for indies in 2011 (on XL ex-USA at least), it’s hard to comprehend an artist nowadays having the sort of impact Oasis have had. Watching the jaw-dropping footage in Upside Down of the band’s now legendary Knebworth concerts, gives an indication of just how truly massive in size Oasis became, and how they were part of the fabric of daily life in the UK at that time. And of course the Creation story wouldn’t be complete without the band that punctuated both the beginning and end years of the label – the Jesus & Mary Chain. So it is fitting that the documentary – a rollicking, fun, inspiring journey itself – draws its title from their notorious debut 45. Upside down indeed. Alas, there is no current news of further screenings, or a DVD release for the documentary in the USA, but once the film secures distribution, it should be on the agenda for every music aficionado.
- Cool Hand Luke