The Primitives, Echoes and Rhymes

Douglas Wolk

By Douglas Wolk

on 01.04.13 in Reviews

Echoes And Rhymes

The Primitives
The ’80s indie-poppers’ full-on comeback

The Primitives’ first incarnation, in the late ’80s, was an exemplar of its guitar-driven indie-pop moment. Still, guitarist P.J. Court and singer Tracy Tracy always had deep roots in the music of the mid ’60s, and the forgotten byways of the singles bins meant more to them than the high-profile hits. The band returned from a two-decade break in 2011 with the Never Kill a Secret EP (two originals, two covers) but their full-on comeback album is a set of covers of songs originally sung by women, most of them from that mid-’60s sweet spot and almost all of them utter obscurities. (“I’m Not Sayin’” — a Gordon Lightfoot song that Nico recorded as her first single, and that Court sings here — is probably the most familiar song here; “Move It On Over” is not the Hank Williams hit but a song by one Le Grand Mellon.) The Primitives effectively translate most of these songs into their own idiom: Only a whomping version of German duo Adam & Eve’s “The Witch” would have sounded out of place on their ’80s-era albums, and Court’s sparkling arpeggios on “Amoreux D’Une Affiche” (originally recorded by Laura Ulmer) are straight out of “Crash.” Court and Tracy have done their fans a service by digging up these lost antecedents of their own music, and they sound like they’re having the time of their lives playing them.