British rock/psychedelic/dance/blues outfit Primal Scream went in a new direction with albums like XTRMNTR and Evil Heat. But for every crazed, brilliant mash-up of these genres, Primal Scream can also deliver straightforward, sleazy rock and roll. And this is what their latest, Riot City Blues is all about. Think of the Stones circa Exile On Main Street and a song like the rowdy, country-tinged “Country Girl” (live version also included) comes to life as does the raunchy “Nitty Gritty.” Just as strong is the lean and pleasing “Suicide Sally & Johnny Guitar” which takes on a punk rock feel.
A couple of these songs come off as being formulaic, especially the Middle Eastern, Zeppelin-ish “Little Death” and the Hendrix-inspired “When The Bombs Drop,” but the group are still able to pull these numbers up by their boot strings. The highlights here are “The 99th Floor” which brings to mind The Stones’ rockabilly version of “Twenty Flight Rock” and the ensuing seedy boogie of, er, “We’re Gonna Boogie.”
Perhaps the diversity of the album is evidence of how damn inventive and exciting this band has always been. Even the roots-y, cozy “Hell’s Comin’ Down” shines here without any hints of being clichéd. Three bonus tracks are also featured, including a rollicking cover of John Lennon’s “Gimme Some Truth.”