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Tenement Kid by Bobby Gillespie review: Primal Scream star strikes a tangible note of melancholy

Yes, he’s prone to absurd purple prose, but the Primal Scream frontman occasionally reveals a surprising willingness to laugh at himself, writes Paul Whitelaw.

Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie was always destined to be Bobby Gillespie.

The scion of socialists, he grew up surrounded by Che Guevara posters, radical left-wing literature, plus folk, blues, rock, pop and country records.

This, as his enjoyable memoir Tenement Kid confirms, is a true believer steeped in politics and pop culture. He absolutely lives and breathes music. Gillespie often comes across as a rather silly and earnest character when interviewed, but when parlayed by his own hand that romantic zeal is endearing.

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Yes, he’s prone to absurd purple prose, but he occasionally reveals a surprising willingness to laugh at himself: oblivious and self-aware all at once. A sweet soul.

The most arresting passages are those in which he captures the febrile, incestuous activity of Scotland’s underground music scene in the Eighties/early Nineties (the book ends with the release of Screamadelica). There are drugs. Lots of drugs. Freebasing was “fun”, apparently.

He also strikes an unforced yet tangible note of melancholy: we will never be so young and free again.

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That ennui is reinforced by the fact that two of Tenement Kid’s main players – DJ Andrew Weatherall and Scream guitarist Robert ‘Throb’ Young – are no longer with us.

Tenement Kid by Bobby Gillespie is out now (White Rabbit, £20)

@paulwhitelaw

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