Primal Scream
Give Out But Don't Give Up



by MasterSan USER (17 Reviews)
February 19th, 2008 | 5 replies

Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist

Review Summary: As a follow-up to Screamadelica, at least it provides some high-energy sleazy blooze-rock. As a whole, it's a perfunctory, boring, punishingly self-conscious excursion into classic rock that falls flat too often. (read: 90% of the album)

Screamadelica is widely considered a Primal Scream masterpiece. Yes, it is, but it has one fatal flaw - for a 1991 album attempting to encapsulate rave culture, it's way too fucking slow. I know a gazillion ravers ingested the Netherlands' yearly supply of ecstacy in just one night back then, but come on. I expect a minimum of energy and a lack of midtempo crap when trying to fuse dance and rock. Otherwise it's just laziness.

Give Out But Don't Give Up attempted to remedy the problem by abandoning dub/dance/house/electronics and focusing on blues-rock + funk. Sometimes it works, having a handful of really memorable songs in the first part.
Then, it doesn't.

The album overall

Ditching The Orb, Andy Weatherall and Duotone allowed Gillespie & Co. to bring famous classic rock producer Tom Dowd behind the mixboard, who shares production duties with George Drakoulias. The band achieve a new focus by attempting to fuse Rolling Stones-style rock with Sly & the Family Stone funk. The good part is: they create a few excellent songs on the way. The bad part: they abuse the gospel choir way too much throughout, and it becomes an annoying schtick (...but then again I never really liked gospel-ish choirs and thought they were a bit hokey).

The songs

Jailbird begins with a simple drum loop and quickly launches into the very catchy G'NR-ish main riff (courtesy of Robert Young). This is one of the few songs which prove Bobby Gillespie's vocals and affectations would fit in well with roots rock; of course, it's also enhanced by some nice organ work and the occasional horns. A strong beginning.

Rocks is the easiest highlight to be found on "GOBDGU": one raunchy, incoherent, marvelous Stones ripoff. At its heart, the song relies on a continous groove and dueling guitar work from Young and Innes, plus the occasional funky keyboard licks. Gillespie is mostly kind of nonsensical throughout the verses, except for maybe the mass-chanted chorus, and that's the only criticism I can muster. Overall: great drunken bar-band rock.

(I'm Gonna) Cry Myself Blind is a slightly melancholic midtempo relying on a bluesy central guitar melody/chord progression lamenting the end of a relationship. While the musicianship is top-notch, the slowed down tempo mostly translates to a relative loss of energy, and so early in the album. What a shame. The lyrics are mostly generic drivel, and the stacked harmonies don't help much either. A dud... kind of.

Funky Jam receives a dose of help from Dr. Funkenstein himself, George Clinton. It's mainly a fusion between a seriously funky, dance-friendly groove, "We've-been-listening-to-the-Stones" guitar work and a restrained horn section. So don't let the reversed drums gimmick fool you. Bobby is nowhere to be seen. The jam is another highlight, even though it runs a bit self-indulgent towards the end and has a fragmentary structure. Regardless, the mammoth central groove is hard to resist, thus making it a highlight.

Big Jet Plane begins with a bluesy acoustic guitar melody that sounds like it came off a Guns 'N Roses album, and turns into another melancholic slow track. This is the one point where Primal Scream falter. They can get their high energy roots rock/funk revivalism fusion right, but the "ballads" suffer from lack of energy and perfunctory performances. The main chord progression gives off an undeniable "been there, done that" vibe, and the saxophone work sounds seriously out of place. "BJP" as a whole sounds overblown and slightly overproduced. It doesn't help that from this point on the band's tight playing will start being a handicap - this album basically demands ragged, sloppy performances to enhance the songs.

Free continues the sad trend of lacking energy and the lack of a loose, limber feel which would help - it all sounds boring. Denise Johnson doesn't even bother trying to help, turning in a resolutely generic and uninteresting performance, mired by some grating, melodramatic shrieking. I actually understand why that guy left her now - she wouldn't shut up. The band don't acquit themselves better, again trotting out a faceless main riff coupled with some late-bar blues keyboard. Oh, that's not mentioning the self-indulgent sax wankery.

Relief is quick when Bobby shows up and comandeers the mic. Call on Me is not the house abomination that horrified the world in 2004, but rather an Aerosmith tribute of sorts. I mean, it has all the basic ingredients: the catchy, slidy guitar riff, the pointless horn section (okay, maybe not this one), the funky piano, the faster tempo. Though the addition of the gospel choir chanting the eponymous line is useless and feels like the band's trying too hard. As a song it's a meandering mess. In the context of the album, it works as an energy boost... but just barely.

Struttin' has yet another memorable G'NR lead riff, and a central funky groove, plus some odd high-pitched synth noises that belong on a 60s psychedelic album (and the occasional sitar). As a whole it's a self-indulgent 8-minute funk-rock jam with a heavy Sly influence. I'm still going to recommend this song because it stands above most of the filler done here (whooshy synths aside).

Sad and Blue signals from the opening slide guitar that this will be another lethargic ballad. And might I add, generic. Bobby's lyrics are the kind of tripe that make Noel Gallagher look like Yeats. The gospel choir schtick has now turned positively annoying. Fucking hell, they are trying too hard. Charlie Jacobs does contribute some great harmonica playing, but that's the only highlight in this otherwise dispiriting track. Apart from the fact that it ends quickly.

Give Out But Don't Give Up is a more upbeat track, percussion-heavy with a sparse bass riff and the occasional horn section. The added percussion gives it a "tribal" air, but the main organ melody feels more eerie than funky. It's another track with a fragmentary structure, occasionally interrupting the main verse to add a quick guitar/organ/talkbox lick. George Clinton and Denise Johnson sing in a lazy, nonchalant manner that adds to the song's overall stoned and lazy funk vibe. Another recommendation.

I'll Be There For You is a half-way decent ballad based on interplay between bluesy guitar and piano. But it's on "GOBDGU", so it automatically equals overproduction. Organ, horn section and the fingers-on-a-chalkboard-annoying choir are obligatory. This song would've been good if they stripped it down to guitar, piano, drums, bass and Bobby. In its current form it's just an overproduced mush. Sure, the lyrics are also pretty horrendous, but I actually think that if the song weren't so excessively adorned, it might have sounded sincere. Might. But I can't excuse this incarnation.

Everybody Needs Somebody rides another lazy, lifeless basic guitar riff. The song works well with low expectations, in its own generic ways... 'till they pile on the backing singers again. It just sounds like an overblown Use Your Illusion II outtake. There's literally nothing else I can say about it, because it's so mindless and clich├ęd. Skipping is strongly urged.

Conclusion. As a follow-up to Screamadelica, at least GOBDGU provides some high-energy sleazy blooze-rock. As a whole, it's a perfunctory, boring, punishingly self-conscious excursion into classic rock that falls flat more than it works.

Recommendations: "Jailbird", "Rocks", "Give Out But Don't Give Up", "Funky Jam", "Struttin'"

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user ratings (94)

Comments:Add a Comment 
February 20th 2008


Album Rating: 2.0

Well, I don't. The first one obviously. But then again, this review sucks, obviously.

September 25th 2014


Album Rating: 2.0

I agree with the review. Album was a big letdown but...about "Screamadelica" being too slow to be a rave's not a rave album! It's maybe rave-influenced, more in its intents than in its sound, but not TeKno...what did ya expected, a Spiral Tribe sounding album? LOL

February 3rd 2017


Holy shit this is bad, what happened

Digging: Paris - Sleeping with the Enemy

Staff Reviewer
February 3rd 2017


Album Rating: 3.5

too many drugs

it has some great tracks tho

Digging: Yawning Man - Macedonian Lines

February 3rd 2017


Can't think of a single memorable track tbh. Almost every track consists of the track title repeated over and over again.

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