One of the highlights of my student days in London was getting a ticket to a hot new band called The Primitives at the much missed Astoria. The NME (remember them- if not, ask your dad) loved them and it seemed every student was wearing a T-shirt with cool singer Tracy Tracy’s image on it.
They were seen as the new Blondie, but Tracy was no Debbie Harry, and PJ Court was no Chris Stein. Although on the evidence of this welcome reissue of their third album Galore they weren’t that far away, with a real ear for a jingly, jangly pop tune.
But despite recruiting Lighting Seeds man Ian Broudie to co-produce, with his trademark clean sound, the band were in meltdown. As is so often the way a great album is lost when a band suddenly falls out of fashion as The Primitives fell victim to Madchester’s baggy sound, and a record company who didn’t have clue what to do with them.
That’s sad because there are some real gems on here especially the catchy single You Are The Way which should have been a big hit not number 58 and the very poppy Lead Me Astray. Although quite why they decided to let PJ Court take lead vocals on Earth Thing is anyone’s guess. People just wanted Tracy singing guys.
Even better news for fans of Coventry’s finest Cherry Red have done another smart repackaging job with an extra disc packed full of remixes and live cuts that prove The Primitives were a formidable live act. Ironically, EarthThing works better live with Tracy harmonising and it was great to hear a spirited version of Stop Killing Me that made their name in the charts. The disc ends with a defiant live You Are The Way as they seem to know the game is up.
Despite Crash being a worldwide smash, and a stable of indie discos to this day, The Primitives were a band who underachieved despite their gift for catchy pop tunes. Ironically they might have inspired Transvision Vamp among others, but seemed to then get submerged by Wendy James’ vapid sexuality, but at least Tracey keep her clothes on and her dignity intact.
Sometimes reissues from this era feel hopelessly out of date, but not so here as thanks to some clever production and decent tunes Galore still sounds fresh nearly three decades on.