Sunday, April 5, 2015

Primal Scream – "Loaded" (1991)

We want to be free.  We want to be free to do what we want to do. . . . And we want to get loaded!  

In 1912, a small-town newspaper reported that a 64-year-old woman named Martha Carliss was marrying for the third time:

That Mrs. Martha Carliss evidently believes in peace and happiness in wedlock and that she probably thinks third time's a charm is shown by the fact that she was granted a license today to marry Andrew W. Mowery.

The belief that you are more likely to be successful the third time you try to do something is very old.

The Scottish group Primal Scream is a believer in the "Third time's a charm" proverb.  After releasing two albums that were didn't sell well and were poorly reviewed to boot, the band's third effort was a commercial and critical success.

The Screamadelica cover
Screamadelica sounded nothing like Primal Scream's first two albums.  The group had gotten caught up in London's late-eighties "acid house" electronic dance music scene, attending raves and consuming drugs like the Coneheads consumed beer -- in mass quantities.  

An interview with the band that appeared in 1991, the year Screamadelica was released, opens with these lines:  "Ecstasy, amphetamines, magic mushrooms, cocaine and hash.  And that's just for starters.  Indie dance pioneers Primal Scream make no secret of it, they like their drugs."  

The band's frontman, Bobby Gillespie, said later, "I always remember being quite fascinated by [the acid house scene] but not quite getting it."

Bobby Gillespie with supermodel
Kate Moss – just friends?
"Loaded" is actually a remix of "I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have" from Primal Scream's second album.  Andrew Weatherall, who was a DJ at London's Shoom club, deconstructed that track, adding a drum loop from an Italian bootleg of Edie Brickell's "What I Am," an Andie MacDowell line from the movie Sex, Lies, and Videotape, and – most significantly – a Peter Fonda soliloquy from Roger Corman's 1966 biker movie, The Wild Angels.

In that movie, Fonda plays "Heavenly Blues," the president of a fictional Hell's Angels chapter.  His best friend, who is called "the Loser" (and is portrayed by Bruce Dern), is shot and killed by police, and the Angels arrange for him to have a church funeral in his hometown.  After Blues interrupts the minister's funeral sermon, the minister asks him a question:

Minister:  Tell me.  Just what is it that you want to do?

Blues: We want to be free.  We want to be free to do what we want to do. . . . We want to be free to ride our machines without being hassled by the man.  And we want to get loaded!  And we want to have a good time.  And that's what we're gonna do.  We're gonna have a good time.  We're gonna have a party!

That speech obviously hit home with Primal Scream.  In a 1991 interview, Bobby Gillespie said something that reflected a very similar philosophy:  

See the whole point of Primal Scream is that we want everybody in the audience to get their rocks off.  And for us to get our own rocks off in the process.  So everybody gets their rocks off and feels high. . . . That’s the whole point of it.  To get your rocks off.  You should print that.  We wanna get our rocks off and we want the audience to get their rocks off.

Back to The Wild Angels.  After Fonda says, "We're gonna have a party," he and his fellow Hell's Angels do exactly that.  (You betcha!)  

First, the Angels remove the Loser's body from his casket (which is draped with a Nazi flag), sit him up and place a joint in his mouth.  Then they knock the minister out and put him in the casket.  Two Angels drug the Loser’s grieving widow (played by Bruce Dern's real-life wife, Diane Ladd) and rape her, while Blues (whose girlfriend Mike is portrayed by Nancy Sinatra) is having sex with another woman.

Henry Fonda's son and Frank Sinatra's
daughter in The Wild Angels
(Man oh man . . . they don't make movies like they used to!)

The screenplay for The Wild Angels was credited to Charles Griffith, who wrote the screenplays for   many other Roger Corman films, including The Little Shop of Horrors and Death Race 2000.  But Corman didn't like what Griffith came up with.

Corman had hired novice writer-director Peter Bogdanovich (who is best known as the Academy Award-nominated director of The Last Picture Show) to write a script for an adventure movie in the mold of Lawrence of Arabia or Bridge on the River Kwai, "only cheap."  He pulled Bogdanovich off that project and paid him $300 to rewrite Griffith's screenplay for The Wild Angels.

Bogdanovich on the set of
The Last Picture Show
The Wild Angels, which cost only $360,000 to make but was the 16th-highest grossing movie of 1966, inspired a spate of other biker movies, including The Glory Stompers (which starred Dennis Hopper) and The Born Losers (which featured Tom Laughlin as the "Billy Jack" character before the Billy Jack movie was made).

The story goes that Fonda conceived of the most famous biker movie of them all, Easy Rider, when he was autographing a movie still from The Wild Angels.

George Chakiris in
West Side Story
Fonda was originally cast in the second-fiddle role of Loser in The Wild Angels.  But Corman's original choice to play Blues, West Side Story star George Chakiris, couldn't ride a motorcycle.  

If George Chakiris had been able to ride a motorcycle, would he have been cast as Dennis Hopper's compatriot in Easy Rider instead of Fonda?

Here's the album version of "Loaded," which has been called the "Sympathy for the Devil" of the ecstasy generation:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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