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This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… The Primitives, Echoes and Rhymes November 9, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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For most people who remember the Primitives they’ll probably have a memory of 1988’s Crash, a fast moving soft Jesus and Mary Chain inflected poppy number that raced up the charts, became a break-out indie hit and saw them achieve a passing prominence outside that particular genre. The accompanying album and its successor were in a similar vein, with vocals from Tracy Tracy (Cattell)and a sometimes surprisingly rocky guitar underpinning them. There was always something of the 1960s about them, from Tracy Tracy’s platinum hair to the sometimes near psychedelic arrangements.

I liked them up to the point, though across the length of an entire album they could on occasion be a bit samey. But in truth across whole albums most bands get a bit samey and when your songs clock in at the 3 minute mark it’s hard to complain.
The music press generally didn’t like them at all, quite unfairly it seemed to me, and despite releasing two or three albums they went quiet after a number of years.

A while back I was listening to their first album and curious I discovered that a year or two ago they’ d returned with an EP of new compositions and a covers LP.

It’s the latter which really caught my attention, because, well, it’s great. 14 tracks of obscure but unbelievably catchy 1960s and very early 1970s pop gems, almost all originally sung by women artists, and most now forgotten. As one review put it, when the most well-known track is by Nico you know you’re dealing with interesting record collections. But look at the names. Suzi Jane Hokum, Tony Basil, they’re all in there.

Thing is the Primitives approach the material with respect but with no fear about adding a certain degree of contemporary power. Tracy Cattell’s voice is assured, and PJ Court’s guitars are amped up to provide an interestingly garage-inflected sound which diverts the songs away from pure pop without losing their charm. And if the lyrical content is sometimes all too redolent of a different age Cattell conveys a sufficiently knowing and ironic quality in her vocals to undercut the reactionary aspects, though content-wise some of the lines are darker than might be expected. Panic, I Surrender, The Witch come over as instant classics, or is that classic classics? It’s all great, and there’s an interesting interview here with Cattell which explains their history and their reformation (and the not unimportant fact that she is a Go-Betweens fan). They’re still active having released the fine Lose the Reason track, written by themselves, earlier this year.
Highly recommended.

Panic (by Reparata & The Delrons)

I Surrender (by Bonnie St.Claire)

The Witch (originally by Adam and Eve)

Turn off the Moon (originally by Sue Lyon)

Sunshine In My Rainy Day Mind (by Polly Niles)

Lose the Reason (by the Primitives)

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