In late 2009, after 17 years The Primitives played together for the first time to commemorate the recent death of their bass player, Steve Dullaghan. Tracy Tracy, Paul Court, Tig Williams and Raph Moore’s successful return to The Primitives home town of Coventry led to the former indie pop music darlings of the late 1980’s getting back together and playing to packed venues on UK tour the following Spring, before heading off to Europe & USA.
This year they released ‘Never Kill A Secret’ – a four track EP on Fortuna Pop! which included two new songs and two cover versions of obscure 1960’s female-led pop groups. The latter became the catalyst for a bigger project which resulted in their new studio album, Echoes & Rhymes.
Echoes & Rhymes is a collection of 14 cover versions of female-led 1960’s obscure or rare pop songs from the likes of Dana Gillespie, Polly Niles, Adam & Eve, Sandy Posey, Laura Ulmer and Reparata & The Delrons. Plus early singles by Nico and a very young Olivia Newton-John.
The album works. Seamlessly blending perfectly as it does, the original late 1980’s twee indie jangle pop revivalist sound of The Primitives with a selection of well chosen songs from the 1960’s to suit. In fact without knowing this was a collection of cover versions, you would be forgiven for thinking this is an album of new material from a group taking one step closer to their initial references. Thru The Flowers, Really Stupid and Way Behind Me wouldn’t sound out of place on Echoes & Rhymes.
The Primitives – Echoes & Rhymes
Below is an a short introduction to each track from The Primitives’ Paul Court
Reparata & The Delrons ‘Panic’ was one of those girl group tunes that became a big northern soul spin. It also sounds like a musical blueprint for early ’80s punk-pop outfit Bow Wow Wow, and I can’t help thinking they missed a trick not covering this song. We’ve kept the spikiness of the original, whilst giving it The Primitives’ bubblegum/jangle treatment.
Turn Off The Moon
This song was on the B-side of a single called ‘Lolita Ya Ya’, from the soundtrack of Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita. The singer was its 14-year-old star Sue Lyon. We’ve given it a punk edge, with some period Joe Meek sounds.
Move It On Over
Until recently we’d only known of one record by the exotically named LeGrand Mellon ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’. Turns out she released three 45s, and one of those was the original of this fiery little kiss off.
Sunshine In My Rainy Day Mind
We hadn’t even heard Polly Niles’ folk psych groover till we were half way through recording Echoes & Rhymes, but it was love at first listen. There was something inherent within the song that reminded us of post Lovely Primitives, so it seemed an obvious tune to cover for the album.
Till You Say You’ll Be Mine
This Jackie DeShannon penned ditty is probably one of the better known songs on the album. Luis from Elefant played us the Olivia Newton John garage band style version, and we’ve based our rendition on that.
I’m Not Sayin’
We’ve replaced the jauntiness of this 1965 Nico single, written by Gordon Lightfoot, with the kind of chiming folk drone and incessant floor tom and snare pounding associated with the band she joined the following year. The song is about someone who wants to have their cake and eat it and, as it’s one that I’ve sung lead on, I’m glad Tracy’s unison vocal comes in on “Baby if you let me have my way”, hopefully rendering the line a little less tacky. There’s an angelic little harmony at the end courtesy of TT, which should help coax the listener into overlooking the devious pussyfooting of the song’s protagonist.
Nothing else on the Paradise Of Sounds LP by Germany’s Adam and Eve, is a patch on the groovy little oddity entitled ‘The Witch’. We’ve accentuated The Velvet Underground elements of the song and replaced the owl impersonations etc with wind style sound effects a la Hawkwind’s ‘Silver Machine’. Janie Jones, the notorious 60s pop star turned madam, also recorded the song (she was married to ’Adam’ aka Johnnie Christian Dee at the time). Her spine-tingling version sounds like Fenella Fielding’s character in Carry On Screaming, fronting some proto-heavy metal band, and it’s a charming slice of late ’60s goth rock.
It’s surprising that no one, to our knowledge, has recorded a cover of this hipster floor filler, so here’s our take on Bonnie St Claire’s Tamla-esque pop stomper.
Amoureux D’une Affiche
Well, we hope we’ve managed to pull this one off. Tracy is the only one of us that’s bilingual, but her other language is Spanish. The song, as far as we can make out, is about being in love with a poster of a girl who isn’t wearing much. One line translates into English as “Two sirs raise their eyes towards my naked thighs” – Ooh la la! One of the main things that attracted us to Laura Ulmer’s spirited yé-yé gem, was its brash, almost punk fervour; a sound and style which, in retrospect, a fair few 60s French pop tunes seem to have. It also, of course,has that killer ‘la la la la la’ vocal hook and a cracking little arpeggio guitar riff that’s very Primitives.
Where Will You Be?
‘You Just Gotta Know My Mind’ might have been the more obvious song for us to cover from Dana Gillespie’s Foolish Seasons album, seeing as we used to have a song called ‘You Don’t Know’ (only ever played live and not very good) that sounded just a tinsy bit similar. We opted instead for this dreamy, anthemic heart melter.
Unlike everything else on the album, this Sandy Posey song was an international hit record. We’d forgotten all about it until recently, but hearing it afresh, we decided it would be a good one to include. What at first appears to be the standard, lonely woman must find a man type scenario, soon slips into somewhat more illicit territory, with talk of having rent to pay, followed by the line “I need a night time love, to get me through the day”. Could be all perfectly innocent, but it does seem as if something a little saucier is being implied.
Who Are You Trying To Fool?
Little Anne’s soul shouter, which resurfaced in the ’90s, starts off with the vocals sounding quite restrained, but soon builds into an octave jumping frenzy. We tried it like that, but it didn’t sound very Primitives, so we resorted to our original plan, which was to take a full throttle ’60s soul tune and calm it down a bit, i.e., the opposite of when soul singers would tear into hits by The Beatles, etc.
Time Slips Away
Shocking Blue, a female fronted band who had a few other good tunes besides the one big hit that they’re mainly remembered for. Can’t help feeling a bit of an affinity, so of course we had to do one of theirs.
There’s something unwittingly psychotic about The She Trinity’s ‘Wild Flower’. We’ve ramped up the mayhem with bongos, feedback and amp kicking, as you do. We also decided to uphold the tradition of me singing two songs per album, so it’s another one with me on lead vocals.
The Primitives – Echoes & Rhymes is due for release on 30th April 2012 on Elefant Records.