This record is notable for a number of reasons including:
- It’s the first 7″ release on Creation Records, who of course went on to dominate and reshape the independent music scenes (feel free to argue that point among yourselves) and release records by Primal Scream, Jesus & Mary Chain, Oasis, Jasmine Minks, The Loft, etc…
- The Legend (often written with an exclamation mark – The Legend! – but nothing so jaunty on this record’s sleeve or labels) is Everett True aka Jerry Thackray, a fine journalist who’s been around for a long time, and who is himself notable in his own right for a number of reasons including:
- Championing Nirvana and the Seattle/grunge scene right from the start
- Launching the magazines Careless Talk Costs Lives and Plan B in the 2000s; both excellent magazines, both missed.
- Six – six – ‘players’ are credited on the rear sleeve, which is a surprising number if you’ve ever heard the songs. They’re certainly of their time, very sparse, worthy, student-politics-y and, well, pretty poor. Not really a repeat-player, this record, unless I’m feeling like punishing myself.
- It comes with a free flexi! This is the good stuff, really – a two-song 33 rpm flexi featuring charmingly naive and poppy songs by Laughing Apple (featuring Alan McGee, who of course ran Creation Records and Andrew Innes, who went on to feature in Revolving Paint Dream and Primal Scream) and The Pastels.
The design of the sleeve – a vaguely agitprop-looking and not altogether unpleasant layout – is credited to Communication Blur which was also the name of a fanzine run by Alan McGee in the early 1980s and, presumably, an alter ego for McGee as graphic designer. He’s also credited as one of the ‘players’ as well as getting a production credit here. Busy fellow. Starting as he means to go on, really, as throughout the lifespan of Creation Records he was pretty heavily involved with most aspects of everything.
Update 07/01/14: Thanks to Jerry/Everett for filling me in on a bit of extra detail to do with this record! Apparently the drums and guitar on the record were both played by McGee – the songs came out of a band that Thackray/True and McGee had together for a short time – and the sleeve design was in fact by Ken Popple, the drummer on early Biff Bang Pow! releases. There are lots more True-isms to be had at his excellent blog, The Electrical Storm.
This came out in 1997 – really? – thirteen years ago! Wow. It genuinely doesn’t seem that long ago. For me, ‘Kowalski’ and the Vanishing Point album from which it was taken are pretty much the high point in what’s been an amazingly long career for Primal Scream. At this stage, they were at the apex of messed-up coolness, and injecting a lot of weird, experimental stuff into what remained some very accessible music.
This record is dedicated by the band to Cleavon J Little, the guy who played Super Soul in the Vanishing Point movie which Primal Scream were obsessing about around the time of these records coming out. Super Soul was the hypercool blind DJ who guided, via radio, the lead character Kowalski as he drove across parts of America. As I remember it, Vanishing Point the movie doesn’t really stand up to repeated views – it gets kind of boring – and I prefer Blazing Saddles, Cleavon J Little’s other most well-known role. I like the idea of an alternate past where Primal Scream get obsessed with that movie, instead, and release records based around the idea of eating beans and acting like idiots. “Willkommen. Bienvenue. Welcome. C’mon in…”
Around the time of these records coming out, or shortly after, I saw Primal Screaam play at Brixton Academy. It was outstanding. Asian Dub Foundation supported, and did a largely instruments/backing track-free set that didn’t kick off until around midnight. Primal Scream, as they say, ‘tore the roof off,’ with a set that featured My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields on guitar, along with guests including Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan and (I think) Paul Simonon of The Clash. They were playing a lot of stuff that would later form the Xtrmntr album. It was a late night, and it was busy, and I got separated from the friends with whom I’d gone to the gig. Leaving the venue at around 3.30 am or so, worse for wear, I decided to wander the Brixton streets to find a taxi, before hopping into an unmarked car and drunkenly guiding it back to where I was staying in London. My friends weren’t there, and didn’t return for a couple of hours, during which time I slept peacefully on their front steps. Looking back, there’s many reasons why I shouldn’t really have survived that evening without more incidents or injuries. Luck was on my side.
Here’s the Vanishing Point trailer, for some fun:
Creation Records don’t half cop a lot of flak these days; mainly, I guess, as a side effect of bringing Oasis to the masses (I love them myself, but you can’t sell that many records without a lot of people getting snarky), and also perhaps because of head man Alan McGee’s increasingly out-of-touch, I-used-to-be-somebody ranting blog posts. Somehow it was easier to accept the latter when they were in the form of typewritten missive press releases from a guy in the post-punk era carving out a musical empire with blood, sweat, tears and drugs, but it doesn’t wash so well when coming from the reformed elder gent, tapping away on his laptop, who seems to have relentlessly signed pure crap for the past decade or so.
However: he did bring us Creation Records throughout the 1980s and for the first half of the 1990s, and during this period this meant a hell of a lot of fine music finding its way into our lives. I can guarantee that if you’re any kind of music fan, at least one record that you love was released by Creation or was somehow, something to do with McGee. And for that, it’s hard to bear him any kind of grudge.
Different For Domeheads was one of several compilations that formed the majority of the early album-sized Creation releases. On here we’ve got The Loft, The Jasmine Minks, Primal Scream, The Pastels, Biff Bang Pow!, Slaughter Joe, The Bodines and The Weather Prophets. Not heard of more than a couple of them? You should have. It’s a compilation like this that affirms early Creation releases as well worth the status of ‘collect anything this label puts out’. It’s also worth picking this and other similar-period releases up to remind yourself of just what faux-naïve indie pop kids Primal Scream once were. Who’d have predicted what they became and what they achieved?
I bought this in 1991 when I was a cash-strapped teenager, saving up my meagre part-time work pay in order to regularly pop into Langland Records – generally to browse, sometimes to buy. Langland Records was something of a legendary record shop when I was growing up in Telford, if for no other reason than you could pop to the White Lion over the road, buy a pint and bring it back to the shop whilst looking through records and hearing whatever bizarro metal/prog music was being played over the shop’s crappy sound system. It’s long gone now, as are so many record shops. Shame.
The Telescopes were one of those primo-era Creation bands that everybody loved for a while, and this record is a stellar example of their shoegazey middle period. Quite a history, The Telescopes – from white noise screaming misery in the mid-80s, through blissed out shoegaze in the early 90s, through to a period of nothingness followed by the improvised soundscape drones that they regularly release these days. Hell, I’ve even released a record by The Telescopes, which is something I never dreamt I’d be saying when I picked this up back in ’91.
This record reminds me of much simpler times, when every record bought was listened to over and over and over, before disposable income stopped each purchase being quite so magical and special. At the start of my record buying in the late 80s I didn’t even have a record player, and I’ve got many fond memories of camping out in my parent’s dining room or my sister’s bedroom, listening to weird and wonderful stuff to the bemusement/amusement of my relatives. Things haven’t changed so much – although I’ve now got my own record player…