Primal Scream: The Lost Memphis Tapes 21 January 2022: Friday on BBC Four

The programme shows Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie’s fascination with music from an early age, listening to the sounds of Elvis and Aretha Franklin before graduating to punk. He talks about his passion for music and how to keep creativity on the right track. In the early 90s the UK music scene was changing – with Oasis and Blur emerging, this alternative rock band was recording in Memphis but suddenly sounded out of step with the music scene.

As the documentary reveals, nine songs were recorded for the band’s 1994 album Give Out But Don’t Give Up, including Jailbird, Rocks, and Cry Myself Blind, but the album that was released, after further mixes were made to make the new album more contemporary, was not the mix Primal Scream wanted. In the film Bobby Gillespie talks candidly about how this process led him to question his own judgement and that for many years the experience left him feeling that he had failed himself and his audience.

With exclusive, previously unreleased footage of behind-the-scenes studio sessions, this is the story of how the original mixtapes of the album were rediscovered in a basement by Andrew Innes, Primal Scream’s rhythm guitarist. The sessions recorded by the band in Memphis with the legendary record producer Tom Dowd, along with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section musicians Roger Hawkins, drums, and David Hood, bass, did not make the light of day, because some of the mixes were not suitable in the musical climate at the time.

Bobby and Andrew go back to Memphis 25 years later to revisit Ardent Studios, where the band first recorded the original album, and meet some of the musicians and engineers involved in the process. It gives Bobby the chance to remaster the album he had originally envisaged all those years ago. The film has new interviews with Bobby, Andrew, David and Jeff Powell, the original engineer, giving their own, unique perspectives of the events of more than 20 years ago. Plus, there are archive interviews with the Memphis Horns, George Clinton and Roger Hawkins.

With the rediscovery of the original session tapes, the band is finally able to release the beautiful music they always wanted the public to hear.



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