The Primitives – Echoes & Rhymes

Once you just allow the record some space – always a problem with a set of covers, you’re mining some gold in amongst the ore. Fucking good fun, playmates.

 

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I remember seeing The Primitives support Echo and the Bunnymen at the Free Trade Hall back in January 1988, just before their big hit, Crash. I think one of them gave me a flyer outside the venue whilst I made sure my Will Sergeant fringe / parka combo looked just right. I liked their gig, and them well enough (Stop Killing Me & Crash were great singles, they really were, and Tracy Tracy had this strange image – part shop assistant part chanteuse that seemed mixed on another planet), but didn’t really take them to heart. They were a pop band and at that time, a “serious” type like me used to bore others (and probably myself) rigid discussing AR Kane or the Pixies or the Pooh Sticks in Burnley bedsits reeking of joss sticks. Our bad.

What did I say just then? Yes, (adopting Anne Magnuson voice) that’s right. A pop band. And here they are again after quite a while with a record that in many ways is a summation of the sort of record a pop band should release. It’s a set of covers, from the mighty Shocking Blue to Adam & Eve, (check THAT duo out for thrills, Incendiary beseeches you), and whilst it’s a set of songs that has its highs and lows (I can’t stand those arch knowing wink, sub Kenny Williams run-throughs like Turn Off the Moon in any case), it’s a damn good listen. It really is. The best bits are without doubt tracks like the soul-dipped Sunshine In My Rainy Day Mind, or Amoreux D’Une Affice, where the band have to stretch their muscles in doing such good source material justice. And get a fucking groove on. The take on Time Slips Away, by Shocking Blue (probably the greatest of all underrated band of the 60s) is inspired as is the stomping take on I’m Not Sayin’.

It’s a brilliantly presented set, one that could do a wedding or a funeral justice; the band know what they’re doing and can explain why (you forget just how wordy you had to be back then, and Paul Court’s sleeve notes will shame most keyboard warriors in their erudition and knowledge) and once you just allow the record some space – always a problem with a set of covers, you’re mining some gold in amongst the ore. Fucking good fun, playmates.