People . . . keep it fun-key

Bobby Gillespie's anti-Coldplay rant made brilliant radio

On Monday, it was Primal Scream Day on BBC6 Music. It seems a bit over the top to devote a whole day to this band. The people at Sony, who have a new album to flog, must be thrilled beyond belief.

Lots of groups are obvious candidates for this treatment: Steely Dan, say, or the Smiths - bands that are big, but not too big, and have been very influential. But Primal Scream? Yes, they've been around for two decades, outlasting most of their contemporaries (the Stone Roses, for example). They haven't exactly insinuated their way into the culture, however - at least, not round these parts. I used to be a big fan, but even I struggle to sing any of their songs from memory. The other day, I tried to warble "Movin' On Up" to a friend. "Is that one of your own numbers, or are you improvising?" he said witheringly.

Still, there are lots of things in their favour. Their individual songs might be a blur, but Screamadelica is a fantastic album, one that reminds me of being seven stone and wearing Doc Martens and a floral shirt. Then there are the band's socialist credentials. They don't just drone on drippily about tofu and carbon emissions while being careful not to say anything too outrageous for their middle-class followers. They get stuck in. Among other things, Bobby Gillespie, the band's singer, campaigned for the release of Satpal Ram, jailed for murder after defending himself from a racist attack in Birmingham in 1987. And Gillespie lives in my street. I've never spoken to him, but this is the only cool thing to have happened to me since I turned 30.

Most importantly, Gillespie and his bass player, Mani (late of the Stone Roses), know what decent music is. As a trailer for the main event, the pair did a "soundclash" for 6 Mix. Their choices were superb, though their DJing style took some getting used to. Mani, who is from Oldham, acted like John Shuttleworth on ecstasy. He was operating the mobile disco, and we were the poor saps standing at the edge of the room. "Pee-PUL," he kept saying, "we are try-ING to keep it fun-KEY." Lord, it took me back. When he put on S Express, I found myself wondering if we had any Malibu in the house.

On Primal Scream Day itself, the band did an interview with Steve Lamacq. Gillespie had a rant about Coldplay. "To me, they sound like Eighties Phil Collins," he said. "It's disgusting." He is sick of Chris Martin types moaning about how hard it is being millionaire pop stars: "They should try working in a factory." Mani got a bit overexcited at this. "They should try carrying a hod full of bricks up a ladder on a pissing afternoon in Manchester, man," he spat. He and the Bobster could, you felt, have gone on for ever, in the manner of a Monty Python joke.

"Yeah," Mani would have ended by saying, "they should try breaking Derbyshire limestone with their bare hands in the freezing snow at the same time as packing cracker novelties into boxes with their frost-bitten feet . . . and no clogs to walk home in, and only a bag of chips with curry sauce to eat all day." It was brilliant radio - although not, I must admit, for all the super-cool musical reasons you would expect.

Pick of the week

Simon Mayo at the World Cup
Radio 5 Live, Monday-Friday, 1pm
Little-fancied Australia take on littler-fancied Japan on 12 June.

School of Rock
Radio 4, 10 June, 10.30am
Andy Kershaw traces the history of bands on college campuses. No bop afterwards, though.

Don't Miss. . . Sónar Festival, Barcelona

The British electro-chanteuse Alison Goldfrapp is among the achingly trendy acts at this year's Sónar. In the past, the festival has attracted large international audiences with its unusual mix of music, multimedia art and cinema.

For British party animals, the music-oriented Sónar by Night is the biggest draw. The 2006 line-up includes the hotly tipped East Enders Hot Chip, boundary-busting DJ Gilles Peterson and hip-hop veteran DJ Shadow.

Barcelona residents are not quite so enthusiastic, and are organising a rival "Anti-Sónar" event to run at the same time.

Mary Fitzgerald

Sónar Festival, 15-17 June

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