In his memoir Tenement Kid, Bobby Gillespie defines himself as the son of a rocker Marxist, a union leader who saw Gene Vicent and Eddie Cochran on his last tour before dying in a car accident in April 1960. A spiritual descendant of Karl Marx and Malcolm McLaren, illuminated by gospel, soul, punk, acid house, and rock of the sixties and seventies. The leader and vocalist of Primal Scream, author of “Movin ‘On Up”, “Rocks”, “Come Together” “Loaded” has become one of the most charismatic vocalists of the last decades. It has survived two legendary rock bands, The Jesus and Mary Chain and Primal Scream, and it has a history full of excesses. It is the representation of a character like Oliver Twist covered by a rock star.
Tenement Kid (edited by White Rabbit Books) tells the story of a boy born in 1961 in a neighborhood in Glasgow, Scotland. With little future within his grasp, Gillespie grew up in a lower-middle-class community that was destroyed by the prime minister’s economic policies. Edward Heath that sought to bring down the British working classes and trade unions and that gave way to the arrival of Margaret Thatcher and an era of political and social obscurantism in the United Kingdom where punk and a series of rebellious cultural movements exploded. At age 16 Gillespie dropped out of high school to become an apprentice at a print shop and earn enough to go to concerts, buy records, music magazines, and clothes. His only obsession was to achieve the ideal that the fictional alien sang Ziggy Stardust: “Make the transformation into a rock star.”
In love with the music of Thin Lizzy, The Clash, David Bowie, Roxy Music, Sex Pistols, The Jam, 13 Floor Elevators and Love and the regular reader of the musical weekly New Musical Express, Gillespie turned his obsession into a lifestyle. He first became involved in the band The Wake, with which he played on a couple of singles released under the iconic label. Factory from Tony Wilson. In 1983 he met the brothers Jim y William Reid, whom he frequented on a series of illicit adventures in deserted parts of a helpless Glasgow. The Reids invited him to play drums on their first album: Psychocandy. Distortion walls influenced by The Velvet Underground and The Stooges were complemented by Hal Blaine’s percussion from the pop symphonies of The Ronettes and The Crystals in the sixties, produced by Phil Spector and the simple precision of Mo Tucker. In parallel, Gillespie began to build Primal Scream with different musicians until, with Andrew Innes, Martin Duffy and Robert Young, found the sound with which today we associate Primal Scream.
The story of Tenement Kid concludes with the release of the iconic album Screamadelica, dated September 23, 1991, under the seal Creation Records from Alan McGee. On Screamadelica, Primal Scream decided to move away from the psychedelic rock and folk rock that dominated his first two albums, Sonic Flower Groove and the homonym Primal Scream, while trying to find his own voice. Helped by the DJ Andrew Weatherall and inspired by the scene of the acid house, which was beginning to gain traction in the UK, Primal Scream He made one of the most innovative albums of his time trying not to fit into any genre. Gospel choirs are mixed with productions of acid house, funk, guitars that evoke the Rolling Stones on the stage Exile on Main St and morph into acid house hymns perfect for the dance floor.
On Tenement Kid, Bobby Gillespie reveals the insecurities, scars and the aftermath of a rock survivor. The rise to success is accompanied by many excesses, repressed violence, scarcity, economic precariousness and a lot of music. But this boy from the neighborhood created his own socialist and community vision in a rock band that has in its music the power to change our world.
Operations coordinator of El Economista online