Remembering Andrew Weatherall: The man who united with Primal Scream to make Screamadelica

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Andrew Weatherall defined the sound of a generation when he produced the Screamadelica album.

Andy Weatherall was a British music legend, his work brought together a generation of young people in the 90s. Born in Windsor in 1963, he would produce an era-defining album in Primal Scream’s ‘Screamadelica’.

While he may not have been born in Glasgow, he had a massive impact on our city in the time he spent here - bringing Acid House sounds to the city at venues like Sub Club at a time when Glasgow was still basking in the reflected glow of being named the ‘European City of Culture’.

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He would tragically pass in 2020 - just a few short years after he began his solo career - after a life spent mixing other artists tracks and producing albums, EPs, and singles for bands and musicians.

The trailblazing DJ defined the sound of the times, bringing the genre of Acid House to the mainstream and working with the biggest artists to forge the music of a generation. He had a number of celebrity fans from this time. Included in a long-list of friends was author of Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh, who called Andy; ‘One of the most talented persons I’ve known’.

THe Charlatans lead singer Tim Burgess was a close friend of Weatherall, as was DJ Gilles Peterson, and of course, the Glasgow crowd of Alan McGee, and Bobby Gillespie, as well as the other members of Primal Scream and The Twilight Sad.

Andy Weatherall brought Acid House to Glasgow when he produced Screamdelica in 1990Andy Weatherall brought Acid House to Glasgow when he produced Screamdelica in 1990
Andy Weatherall brought Acid House to Glasgow when he produced Screamdelica in 1990 | N/A

One of his biggest claim to fame in Scotland was his contributions to the work of Primal Scream. That’s not to say Weatherall wasn’t already critically acclaimed for his other work - which included mixes of tracks from: the Happy Mondays, New Order, Saint Etinne, Siouxsie Sioux, My Bloody Valentine, Bjork, the Orb, the Future Sound of London and Manic Street Preachers.

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It was these experimental mixes that would get Andy noticed in the burgeoning acid-house genre in the late 1980s and early 90s that was set to burst onto the mainstream.

Bobby Gillespie asked Andrew to remix the Primal Scream single I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have.

After an initial attempt on which he “basically put a kick drum under the original“, Weatherall decided to try a much more radical approach.

The result was Loaded, which retained about seven seconds of Primal Scream’s song – the bass line and a slide guitar.

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Weatherall added vocal samples from the US soul group The Emotions, a drum loop from an Italian bootleg of Edie Brickell’s song What I Am, alongside snatches of other Primal Scream songs, and frontman Bobby Gillespie singing a line from Robert Johnson’s Terraplane Blues.

It propelled the rock band onto the dance floor, and kick-started their career.

“I think it’s time to stop saying ‘this is a dance record’ and ‘this is a rock record,’” said Gillespie at the time. “If you can play music, you can do whatever you want. Just use your imagination.”

The success of Loaded led to Weatherall being recruited for the whole of Screamadelica, establishing him as one of the UK’s most in-demand producers.

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Speaking to the NME in 2011, he said of Screamadelica: “Looking back, my arrogance makes me wince, but I would never have had the confidence to do it if I didn’t have that kind of attitude. In a few months I’d gone from basically bumming around to all of a sudden being part of a proper scene. I was at the centre of the cyclone and loving it.”

At an event in the Barrowlands Art and Design, Creation Records label owner Alan McGee, famous for his signing of bands like Oasis at King Tut’s, Primal Scream, and the Happy Mondays, described meeting Andy Weatherall with Bobby Gillespie.

Alan recalled:“Me and Bobby [Gillespie] were at Sub Club and we were absolutely off our nut, it was about three in the morning. One of us said we should go to an outside event, in some field somewhere.

“This like 1989 or 1988 - so we get in a car with two or three other people, we start driving around the outskirts, listening for music, and eventually, after about 10 or 15 minutes, we heard it.

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“So we’re totally off our nut, pay the driver - start walking through the fields, walked past horses and all that. We get to this rave at 4 in the morning and everybody’s there; The KLF before they were famous, Jimmy Coyle’s there, Bill Drummond’s there, Richard Morris of The Grid is there, everybody’s there. So we do more E’s.

DJ and producer Andrew WeatherallDJ and producer Andrew Weatherall
DJ and producer Andrew Weatherall | other

“Until it gets to about 8 in the morning and we’ve run out of ecstasy. Me and Bob think that someone’s dropped the ecstasy - so  we start crawling around on our hands and knees in the grass looking for it.

“And at that point we look up and it’s f***ing Andy Weatherall and he goes, ‘What are you doing?’ And at that point, that’s when we met him.”

It would be in Hackney, London, in a small studio near the Creation offices where Screamadelica would be recorded by Primal Scream and produced by Andrew Weatherall in 1990.

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Speaking of the production, frontman Bobby Gillespie told The Guardian in 2020:”For Screamadelica, we gave him tracks and tracks of melodies and songs, loads of stuff that he put together somehow. His skill at arranging was off the scale.

“No one else would have thought of constructing tracks like he did, arranging our melodies and music into abstract pop songs.

“I think he was an outsider artist in a way; he preferred being on the margins doing his own thing. He could be more free out there. Music was a portal for him to escape the straight life.

He made music and he loved music – rockabilly, garage rock, reggae. He was into spreading the word. He was inclusive, such a generous guy.

“I think of him as a true bohemian.”

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