It’s hard to guess what Primal Scream were thinking when they decided to lay down Riot City Blues. The album’s return to the Faces/Stones persona previously featured on ‘94’s Give Out But Don’t Give Up is a rather strange move. No more Kevin Shield. No more electronic gadgetry. Nowhere close to XTRMNTR. Just Bobby G and the boys playin’ some down-home boogie-woogie.
And as bad (or good) as this might sound, Riot City Blues does have its moments. The rock ‘n’ roll numbers, “Suicide Sally & Johnny Guitar” and “The 99th Floor,” go down easy after a beer or three, and “Hell’s Comin’ Down” calls for some boot stompin’, courtesy of the country and western vibe whipped up by Dirty Three’s Warren Ellis. However, like Give Out But Don’t Give Up, the album’s strongest tracks are the slower numbers, like “Sometimes I Feel So Lonely” and “Little Death”, which might almost fit on one of the last two Primal Scream records. If you key in on these few decent songs and ignore the blatantly cliché lyrics of Bobby Gillespie, which are a given at this point, Riot City Blues is decent enough.
Note: Not sure if all the copies out there are like this, but my lame-ass bonus material seems to be improperly labeled. Instead of the listed John Lennon cover of “Gimme Some Truth”, I got a live version of “Country Girl”, and there’s no video content on this disc like they tell me there is. Either the cutbacks must be bad at the majors, or this was some trick to make me put this disc in my computer so it could infect my baby.