After The Primitives released in 1988 its single “Crash,” this immediately became a chart-topping hit, placing at number-five on the U.K. Singles Chart and at number-three on the U.S. Modern Rock Tracks. However, the English band spent six years more before it was able to attain a wider global reach. Thanks to the 1994 movie Dumb and Dumber, the soundtrack of which featured that 1988 chart-topper.
Formed in 1984, in Coventry, West Midlands, England, The Primitives’ eventual core membership revolved around Vocalist Tracy Tracy and Guitarist Paul Court. By the time they were to record their debut album, the band had included the original Bass Player Steve Dullaghan and Drummer Tig Williams. “Crash,” in its original form, was the carrier single of that first effort, which turns 30 this year.
Released on Tuesday, March 1, 1988, Lovely opened ebulliently with the saccharine, easily catchy, and upbeat “Crash,” which no longer needed further description. This was followed by an even faster, frenetic track, “Spacehead,” exhibiting an obvious influence of The Ramones as well as ’60s Sunny Pop female groups like The Ronettes (“Be My Baby”), The Crystals (“Then He Kissed Me”), and The Shangri-Las (“Give Him a Great Big Kiss”). The ensuing Jangle Pop track “Carry Me Home” bounced and stood out primarily because it was male-voiced, courtesy of Court. “Shadow” was a different sonic beast, incorporating African Worldbeat and Hindustani-glazed Psychedelia.
One of Lovely’s highlights, “Thru the Flowers” was a proper New Wave offering – as poppy as “Crash,” but more melodic, dancey, and gracefully cool – validating The Primitives’ inclusion in the league of prime, guitar-oriented Indie Pop bands of the late ’80s such as The Darling Buds (“Hit the Ground”), Voice of the Beehive (“I Say Nothing”), The Bodines (“Heard It All”), Primal Scream (“Gentle Tuesday”), A House (“I’ll Always Be Grateful”), and The Weather Prophets (“She Comes from the Rain”).
With “Dreamwalk Baby” and “I’ll Stick with You,” The Primitives then returned the listener to the album’s overall sense of urgency, characterized by tom-tom drums and frenzied guitar plucks and strums.
The Primitives launched into another ’60s Sunny Pop throwback in the form of “Way Behind Me,” only to step again on the fuzzbox as “Nothing Left” and “Stop Killing Me” played next in obvious succession, albeit maintaining the Doo-Wop-inspired vocal harmonies. The mood then turned poppy and jangly again with “Out of Reach,” while “Ocean Blue” flowed smoothly like subtle waves, occasionally splashing its guitar spikes onto the welcoming seashore sands.
Nearing the end of the lovely charm, Court’s frantic strums animated “Run Baby Run” as Tracy’s Tweepop voice floated midair. The penultimate track, “Don’t Want Anything to Change,” was an ear-catcher, with its keyboard melodies, piano flourishes, Marr-reminiscent guitar works, and punchy bass lines. Finally, The Primitives ended Lovely with another Court-sang ditty – the punky, Surf-influenced “Buzz Buzz Buzz.”
To this day, many Alternative Rock and Indie Pop enthusiasts remember The Primitives only because of “Crash.” That is good in a way; it made the band unforgettable. However, there is so much more to The Primitives’ music than that. In fairness, Court, Tracy, and the rest of the band have mustered five studio albums throughout their career – from Lovely to 2014’s Spin-O-Rama.
If you are indeed a fan of this kind of music, then pay tribute to The Primitives by revisiting all those albums and rediscovering the English band’s Indie Pop melodrama. Start aptly with the half-polished, half-rugged but sweet and gorgeous beauty – the now 30-year-old Lovely.