Just What Is It That You Want To Do?

Loaded was the starting point for Andrew Weatherall and in the mainstream it is what he’ll be remembered for I guess. He’d been in the studio before as a remixer- his first named credit was on the Happy Monday’s Hallelujah Club Remix but Loaded is where the story begins. He’d given Primal Scream a positive review of a gig in Exeter at a time when no- one was interested in them. He also raved about their self titled second album, a rock ‘n’ roll, Stooges inspired guitar record that had managed to alienate the fans of their first album without really finding any new ones. In the summer of 1989 I saw Primal Scream touring to promote Ivy Ivy Ivy at a venue in Liverpool called Planet X in front of about thirty people. The Scream gave it their all, Bobby occasionally complaining about the low ceiling. We were right at the front next to Throb and they finished with I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have, Bobby on his knees screaming into the mic. A few months later Weatherall turned I’m Losing More… into Loaded.


The first version of Loaded was in Weatherall’s own words ‘too polite’ and Andrew Innes encouraged him to go back and ‘fucking destroy it’. Primal Scream had nothing to lose. At this point Gillespie, Innes and Throb were still unconvinced about acid house despite Alan McGee’s enthusiasm but had met Weatherall at a rave and were happy for him to remix the song. Weatherall set about taking the song to pieces and remaking it.

I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have

Taking the horns from the end section of the original song and Henry Olsen’s rolling bassline Weatherall stitched Peter Fonda’s famous dialogue from The Wild Angels, a 1966 biker film, to the start of the song.

The question, ‘Just what is it that you want to do?’ is asked by Frank Maxwell. Fonda replies with his rallying call- ‘we want to be free, we want to be free, to do what we want to do… and we want to get loaded and we want to have a good time’. The part about riding ‘our machines without being hassled by the man’ was cut. I’ve often thought there should be a version with that part included. Fonda’s declaration had been used before, not least by Psychic TV (Weatherall was a big PTV fan). It sums up the spirit of the times perfectly.

The drumbeat with its massive crash cymbal came from Edie Brickell And The New Bohemians, a bootleg version of their hit What I Am, which in turn had been borrowed from a Soul II Soul record (and that was sampled from elsewhere).

What I Am (Bootleg)

The ‘I don’t want to lose your love’ vocal part, the bit where on a dancefloor or at a gig everyone is singing in unison regardless of their ability to hit the notes, comes from a 1976 song by The Emotions.

The only bit of Bobby Gillespie that made it onto the record is the vocal part at 3.09 where he sings ‘we’re gonna get deep down, deep down, woo hey!’ in response to Frank Maxwell’s repeated question. Gillespie’s vocal is from a cover of a Robert Johnson song, Terraplane Blues, presumably something the Scream had recorded but never released. There’s an ‘ah yeah’ bit at about five minutes which sounds like Bobby, some ace slide guitar and acoustic guitar, some lovely Italo house piano and Innes’ crunchy guitar parts that make the breakdown before we are launched back in.

The song was pressed up onto acetate and then some promos for DJs and as summer turned into autumn people began to notice the impact it had on dance floors. The rhythms evoke Sympathy For The Devil, the shuffling groove, and crowds in clubs began to chant the ‘woo woo’ part spontaneously. Loads of people have described their reactions to being told this monster rave anthem was the work of Primal Scream, the disbelief, the shaking of heads and then the wide eyed joy of becoming a believer. Members of Primal Scream have recounted being phoned by Weatherall and others in the small hours excitedly describing the effect Loaded was having on a floor right there and then. It was finally given its full released in February 1990, Creation finding themselves with a hit on their hands. Loaded reached number sixteen in the UK and propelled the band into the Top of The Pops studios where Gillespie wriggled with his maracas, black leather and long hair, feet seemingly glued to the spot. Ride’s Mark Gardener was drafted in to mime on the keyboards, Throb is resplendent in teddy boy red and Innes pulls all the moves, Les Paul, hippy shirt and long curls. For a song that has such deep roots, that sent thousands of indie kids hurtling to the dance floor and still raises the roof when played at parties, it’s an odd TV performance that doesn’t quite nail it. And of course, the man who made it is nowhere to be seen.

I Am Sitting In the Morning

There are songs from the late 80s and early 90s which I didn’t buy at the time, songs I have never owned until getting mp3s of them in recent years, but which I know inside out. This is because-
a) you can’t buy everything
b) limited budget
and c) record buying priorities.

It’s probably also the case that there was some stuff I dismissed a bit at the time but which really sank in to my musical memories and in retrospect (or actually at the time) liked.

Tom’s Diner, the 1990 DNA remix of Suzanne Vega’s 1981 written but 1987 released song, is one of those songs. Everything is utterly familiar and known inside out, from the da-da-da-duh intro to the chugging Soul II Soul beat, every line of the lyrics, the grinding bassline and then the cathedral bells as the whole thing seems to slow down.

Tom’s Diner (DNA Remix)

DNA remixed it without permission and distributed limited quantities on white label. The record label, A&M, heard about it, liked it and rather than sue DNA, sought Suzanne’s approval and bought it to release officially. Which was wise as it was a massive hit in the UK (number 2) and USA (number 5). In one of those typical chart battle stories it was kept off the UK number 1 spot by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Work It Out For Yourself

There will always be room in my life for at least two Soul II Soul records. Back To Life is where British soul met house music and went to the top of the charts. It sounds as much like 1989 as anything else from that year. The video is seductive too, the lighting on the steps, the richness of the colours, the roof top party, the sense of inclusiveness.

The other is Get A Life from 1990, which I love as much now as I did then. It has a slightly tougher, reggae feel, plus those superb strings. Jazzie B’s vocals combined with the kids chanting ‘What’s the meaning, what’s the meaning of life?’ work brilliantly and you cannot beat the drop at 2.13, followed by Jazzie’s conclusion- ‘so there it is, work it out for yourself… be selective, be objective, be an asset to the collective…’. Good advice in general I think.

Get A Life (12″ Mix)