My new favourite music blog, The Best Indie Songs, made passing reference a few posts ago to a recent album from England’s The Primitives and I couldn’t scurry to iTunes fast enough to find out more. When I lived in the UK for a year in 1987-88 I fell hard for The Primitives. I couldn’t get enough of tunes like “Crash,” “Through the Flowers,” “Out of Reach,” etc. In fact, the whole debut album, Lovely, just kept flipping over on my turntable. The follow up, 1989’s Pure, was also pure gold. But 1992’s Galore slipped by me unnoticed, probably because it was not released in North America and only available as a British import. And then, nothing. But the death of original member Steve Dullaghan in 2009 sparked a reunion of key members, songwriter and guitarist Paul Court and vocalist Tracy Tracy, leading to a UK tour in 2010 and new recordings in 2011.
The return of old favourites to active recording and performing does not occur without some trepidation on the part of die-hard fans. Sometimes, inexplicably, people who once created great music can simply forget how to write a song or lose all judgment about their recordings. But, thankfully, that is not the case with the Primitives. The band decided to ease back into active recording with an interesting project that mined their vintage 45s record collection for great lost classics from the 1960s, most of which were not big hits but nonetheless still great songs. Echoes and Rhymes, released in 2012, though representing a departure from the sound and style of their previous recordings, highlighted the band’s strengths – both singer and guitarist sounded great.
But Spin-O-Rama, released in 2014, marked the return of the Primitives in all their glory. Roughly 30 minutes of all-new, original material in their signature chimey-guitar and reverby vocal style – it was like they never left. The opening track is the album’s title track: “Spin-O-Rama” is a classic Primitives’ arrangement featuring trebly solo guitar and a feel that is reminiscent of the 1960s without being reduced to it. A great single! Other strong, single-like songs include “Lose the Reason” (with vocals from both Tracy and Paul), “Petals” (which sounds like it fell off the running order of either of the first two albums), and “Dandelion Seed.” Other highlights include “Follow the Sun Down,” with its great chunky 60s vibe, and “Working Isn’t Working,” a droll response to the drudgery of conventional work, sung by Paul. Primitives’ albums always featured a song or two sung by Paul but Spin-O-Rama increases the ratio: of the 11 songs here, Paul sings solo on three and with Tracy on two. Additionally, Paul also sings on the extra track paired with the single “Spin-O-Rama,” “Up So High,” which is driven by a fantastic buzzy guitar sound. The album wraps up with an altered reprise of the title track in “Let’s Go Round Again.” It is refreshing to have such a great band return to active duty in top form. The Primitives’ Spin-O-Rama does not disappoint. Keep up with the Primitives on their Facebook page.