News updates for Primitives

The Primitives at Big Takeover

Triumphantly returning after their 1992 demise, Coventry, UK’s The Primitives deliver their first full-length of original songs in twenty-two years.

Spin-O-Rama finds the band in top form, stripping down to the bare essentials that made the band so great in the first place. Taking a step away from the noisy Jesus and Mary Chain/Ramones attack of their earlier recordings and their later full Brit-pop sound, the quartet have found a perfect balance of melody, production and edge. The result is like an updated version of Nuggets, all fuzzily familiar riffs filtered through a dreamy kaleidoscopic prism. Shades of The Rolling StonesThe KinksNancy Sinatra,LoveThe Byrds and even Spiritualized waft through immediately catchy songs without getting lost in derivation. It’s a purely joyous celebration of playing together again, making music and records again without the demanding pressure of major label life.

Usually, when bands get back together and release new material, the results are less than mediocre. There are exceptions, of course, and, happily, The Primitives are one of them. Bask in the dandelion glow of the velvet valley for a few.


The Primitives on Ice Cream Man

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The Primitives at Power Pop Gumdrop

Jangle pop legends the Primitives strike gold again with this pure classic. Everything you could hope for in a power pop album is heard on Spin-O-Rama. Jangly guitars, infectious hooks and harmonies, and anything else you can think of is explored on this album. This will exceed any expectations you have for what modern classic power pop album sounds like. 10/10


The Primitives at AllMusic

A good general rule for a band attempting to make an album after re-forming would be to do no harm. Don’t sully the past by making an uninspired update of your classic sound, don’t try to be modern and come off sounding desperate…don’t suck, basically. The Primitives already passed this test with flying colors thanks to their album of ’60s covers, Echoes and Rhymes, which they released in 2012. While it was impressive that the band, and especially vocalist Tracy Tracy, sounded like they hadn’t aged a single year, the true worth of their reunion could only be measured with an album of original songs. 2014’s Spin-O-Rama is that album and let’s just say that if Echoes and Rhymes was a nice welcome back, this is the album they should have made in the early ’90s as a follow-up to Pure. Working with longtime collaborator Paul Sampson, the group rushes through 11 songs in 29 minutes in a colorful flash of noisy indie pop that’s carefully crafted and full of excitement. Tracy is still drinking regularly from the fountain of youth, Paul Court‘s guitar work is impressive as it ranges from overdriven noise to chiming neo-psych haziness, and the overall sound of the album is punchy and bright, maybe even more so than their best work from their original run. While there may not be a giant hit like “Stop Killing Me” or “Sick of It” here, the songs are consistently hooky and fun, and a few of them would easily fit on an updated hits collection: the title track, with its super perky melody and insistent go-go beat, the hard-rocking “Petals,” and the almost shoegaze-heavy “Dandelion Seed” are three early picks, though that tends to change with every listen. Another cool thing for bands to do when they come back is to add some new colors to their paintbox and The Primitives do that a couple times, like on the dreamy “Follow the Sun Down,” which has a nice garage pop sound, or the Paul Court-sung psych-folk jangler “Working Isn’t Working.” Court actually takes more vocal leads than one might expect and his monotone balances well with Tracy‘s sweet croon. When they sing together, like on “Lose the Reason,” they sound so good you wish they did it more often. Making more albums is something else the group should do more often. They’ve done the rare trick of coming back even stronger than they finished, making music on Spin-O-Rama that sounds like classic Primitives, but also making music good enough to be mentioned in a conversation about the best guitar pop happening in 2014.


Primitives at Porky Prime Cuts

THE PRIMITIVES HAD IT ALL in the fag-end of the 1980s: harmonic pop songs serenaded by the photogenic Tracy Tracy, an accomplished Primitivessongwriter in Paul McCourt and those songs: Crash, Stop Killing Me, Really Stupid and Thru’ the Flowers.

They arose from gloriously cultish indie pop band to a hitmaker. Their biggest hit, Crash, was also their finest moment, and was all over the shop in 1988 in Britain and offshore. Lovely, their debut album, captured the hearts of Madonna-loving teens and Beatles’ obsessed boomers.

Alas, the attention-span of their new found friends was want to drifting off, and despite some excellent singles – You Are The Way is one of the most under-rated singles of the early 90s – they gave up the fight against a fickle population and retired in 1992. Not much was seen since of any of them thereafter, but they returned in 2009 for a one-off gig which, of course, turned into something more tangible. I’ve heard some favourable things from my Liverpool correspondent about their gigs in the north-west.

Spin-O-Rama (Elefant records) is the second comeback release following the cover-heavy Echoes and Rhymes of 2012, and is their first batch of new material in 22 years. Neither those who have Lovely, nor those who insist their pre-Crash singles were the best thing they ever did, will be torn by Spin-O-Rama: it’s a non-stop pursuit of all that is good about music.

The opening title track sets out its stall early: pounding riffs, gorgeous vocals and the sound of a band glad to be together again; there’s hints of Crash in the pace and jollity of it all and it shouts for attention from the roofs. Hidden In the Shadowshas the trashy, edginess of one of the 1986/87 singles, complete with frenetic verses and a rousing chorus. This is pop at its finest.

Prims 2I’d almost forgotten that some of the Primitives finest hours were when songwriter Paul (PJ) McCourt took charge of vocal duties, and Wednesday World is awash with his magnetic timbre as tells us how he “feels nothing in the rain”. My personal favourite is another McCourt-led charge,Work Isn’t Working. This doesn’t give the impression of having taken too long to write, but will resonate with every workshop fop, creative sort and bohemian in the world: “I wasn’t made for lifting things or digging up the ground/ I never want to follow orders or to knuckle down/ I wasn’t born to stand in line, I like to sit around,” and off he goes to clock out … for good.

All other tracks are chirpy sing-alongs, with buzz saw guitars, tight drums, barking bass and lyrics that don’t aim too high, then they sign-off with a brief reprise of the title track, which makes you want to press play again.


Primitives at Ion Magazine

Acts that are on the legend tour are notoriously disappointing, unless of course you go to VH1 for your contemporary content. The Primitives’ new release is a shocking treat, maintaining their songwriting chops, and cashing in on a resurgence of dream pop, with younger bands name checking The Primitives as influences giving them a bump not unlike that time Morrissey was photographed wearing one of their shirts. Spin-O-Rama is an upbeat gem of a full length that can be enjoyed by both young fans of current jangle bands, and middle-aged moms who used to get down to “Crash” on a mix tape sandwiched between the Pointer Sisters and Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere”. Skepticism on a comeback record 22 years later is justified given these types of bands’ track record, but giving this record a shot will not disappoint.


Primitives at This Wreckage

The slow re-introduction to the Primitives has finally culminated in a full length album of new material!  After eons away, they returned to action in 2011 with an EP (see review here), then graced us with an interesting covers record in 2012 (review here) and finally they teased us with the fun way pre-LP single, “Lose the Reason,” back in February of 2013 (review here).  They have always been a stellar singles band and luckily, “Lose the Reason” is included here.

It’s interesting to listen to new music from this band now.  I don’t know how to quantify my feelings for them. I was a fan of theirs ever since hearing the spiky and endlessly addictive “Crash” back in 1988 and loved a lot of their songs, but never found their albums to be strong from start to finish.  Plus, I don’t think I fully realized back then how much of a 60s influence they had – it was simply somewhat disguised by speed and buzz in most of the songs.  It was the speed, brevity and feedback that caught me initially, so when they bring out their full blown 60s pop songs, I find myself missing the electricity.  About half of this new album sounds as if it were actually written and recorded in the UK back in 1965-66.  The songs fronted by songwriter/guitarist Paul Court especially capture this vibe.  “Wednesday World” relies on a spiraling rhythm, scratchy strumming guitars, Court’s mellow vocals, and drums relegated to the left side of the mix, but I have to say it sounds pretty fresh anyway.  Court decides to drop out on his breezy anti-9 to 5-work ode “Working Isn’t Working,” which is a sentiment I can definitely get behind (“I like to sit around”), but it’s actually theliveliness of the buzzing guitars and heavy pounding of the drums that emphasizes the chorus that sparks this song.  Less effective is the trippy (though, thankfully super brief) “Purifying Tone” and the okay, but somewhat aimless instrumental “Velvet Valley.”  Primary singer Tracy Tracy takes the lead on a couple of other Summer of Love style psychedelic pop songs with “Follow the Sun Down” and the bouncy “Dandelion Seed.”

Thankfully, the Primitives have not abandoned their edge and they’ve clearly retained their strength for creating fantastic timeless pop songs in three minutes or less.  Lead off song, title track and single, “Spin-O-Rama,” is every bit the quality of “Crash” and quite reminiscent as well, with its cleanly picked guitar opening leading into a chugging number with handclaps and a serious hook (The single B-Side is the trippy, but really fun “Up So High,” making the single a must-have).  Likewise, the sheer fun whoosh of the organ in “Lose the Reason” places a thrill down the spine.  Meanwhile, “Hidden in the Shadows” allows Tracy Tracy to urge us the look for our own truths and directions and avoid being “tricked by a trend / fooled by a fad” with the same kind of distant disgust at what she’s seeing as she sang in the old favorite “Sick of It” way back in the late 80s.  It’s the song “Petals,” however, that has me truly realizing why I love this band and can never ignore them.  The rush and buzz and energy is in full bloom inside this treat, which rivals any of their great singles from the original days till now.  I absolutely cannot understand how songs like this cannot be huge worldwide hits, but what do I know?

Have a truly resolved my feelings for this band, or this album?  I’m not sure.  It’s a mixed bag, but overall with such great highs, it’s damn nice to listen to new material from this group!  It also helps that I have grown up and have a better understanding of both their influences and their massive influence.  Treat yourself and enjoy.


The Primitives at Too Much Rock

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Primitives at Morrissey-solo

The Primitives have a new album out. The band are still together and writing some great 60’s inspired pop songs. […]

There’s a small piece here, about when Morrissey turned up at one of their gigs. I do remember seeing Morrissey in quite a few photos sporting that Primitives t-shirt. I used to like when Morrissey championed other bands. He doesn’t do that anymore.


Primitives at Linear Tracking Lives

Where has the time gone? This weekend marks 10 years since John Peel’s turntable stopped spinning. As we are all managing the juxtaposition of sadness and celebration, I have asked Paul Court of the Coventry band the Primitives for his remembrances of listening to and performing on the legendary BBC Radio DJ’s program. Special thanks to Mike Turner at Crashing Through Publicity for helping me get in touch with another one of my heroes.

Linear Tracking Lives: As a kid, what are some of your fondest memories of listening to John Peel’s show?
Paul Court: I started listening to the show in 1978. Radio One used to turn into Radio Two in the evening and then revert back to Radio One at ten for the John Peel show, so it really felt like a visit to some secret, cut-off place. I loved all the post-punk stuff coming through in ’78/’79. Lots of melody and experimentation creeping in. I’d listen in bed and would normally fall asleep before the end and wake up in the early hours wondering why the fuck he was playing Leo Sayer, before realising it had gone back to Radio Two and some truckers request show was on, and that I’d missed the next installment of Sir Henry at Rawlinson End or the final song in a Spizzenergi session.

LTL: What do you think made Peel so good at what he did?
Paul: I think because he was just left alone to get on with it, which fortunately meant giving the underdogs and outsiders a chance.

LTL: What standout Peel Sessions do you recall from other bands?
Paul: Loads of different contrasting stuff, such as The Birthday Party and Helen and The Horns. He played a lot of stuff that I really disliked to begin with, but couldn’t stop thinking about the next day, so I would tune in wondering if he’d play it again that night, subsequently becoming a big fan — The Birthday Party, The Fall, etc. I loved the first few Mary Chain sessions.

LTL: For many reasons, 1986 must have been such an exciting time for the Primitives. It was also the first of three consecutive years the band appeared on Peel’s Festive 50, and in the fall you recorded your first of three Peel Sessions. What was it like going into the studio and then hearing yourselves on the program? Is there a particular song or session that really stands out in your mind?
Paul: The studio was at Maida Vale in London. It was an ornate single story cake of a building with studios below the ground. It felt very much like being in the 1930s down there — I don’t think much had been altered since then. The first couple of sessions we did were produced by Dale Griffin, the drummer from Mott The Hoople. You could tell he wasn’t best pleased having to record all these musically inept bands. I remember him saying the guitar jangle on the chorus of “Stop Killing Me” didn’t fit, but I refused to change it because that was what I played. Eventually he conceded that it sort of worked. When we went back for a second session he was a bit friendlier and told us we’d improved. Hearing the session on the radio was a massive thrill. It would take a few weeks for it to appear on the show and they wouldn’t let you take a tape away, so you couldn’t really remember how it sounded. This was our first John Peel session. [sends YouTube link]

LTL: More than a quarter century after the band’s days on Lazy Records, the Primitives have returned to its indie roots with ‘Spin-O-Rama’ on Elefant Records. What do you think John Peel would have thought about that?
Paul: Hard to say really. I’d like to think he’d show some small acknowledgment, but his thing was always about the new young upstarts.

If you have heard ‘Spin-O-Rama,’ I think you’ll agree Paul is being far too modest with that last answer. So, I’ll say it: Peel would approve. If you haven’t heard the new one yet, check out a few of the new songshere. Then buy it on LP or CD. For more of the Primitives, listen to the band’s second Peel Session (and my favorite of the three) from the spring of ’87. Songs include “She Don’t Need You,” “Ocean Blue,” “Everything’s Shining Bright” and “Dream Walk Baby.” It’s nine minutes of pop perfection.

This very grateful fan would like to thank Mr. Court for taking the time. Thrill of my life.