The Primitives Buzz Buzz The Complete Lazy Recordings
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For a band that only managed three studio albums in its five-year career, there have been a surprising number of compilations devoted to the Primitives, largely due to the ageless wonder of the group's still-astonishing 1988 single "Crash," which seems to be revived every four or five years as a new generation of guitar pop fans discovers its breathless charms. However, 2006's Buzz Buzz Buzz: The Complete Lazy Recordings is the first comprehensive anthology collecting all of the Coventry foursome's pre-RCA recordings. Too unapologetically pop-oriented to fit entirely comfortably next to the more shambolic, C86-approved likes of the Flatmates, Shop Assistants, and Talulah Gosh, the Primitives were the first of that wave of female-led, Ramones-influenced naïve pop bands to sign to a major label, in direct opposition to the prevailing D.I.Y. ethos of their time and place. These 1986-1987 recordings, released on their own Lazy Recordings label, are far more in keeping with the sound of fellow U.K. indies like The Subway Organisation and the early days of the Sarah label than the comparatively glossy re-recordings on the major-label albums Pure and Lovely: the drums are flat and thudding, songwriter P.J. Court's single-note guitar solos are largely flattened to blurts of feedbacky noise, and singer Tracy Tracy (aka Tracy Cattell) usually sounds as if her pertly deadpan vocals are coming from either the next room or the bottom of a nearby well. So they're their own kind of indie pop perfection, then; add in that Court was from the get-go a minor genius of a songwriter, with a higher hit-to-miss ratio than any of his contemporaries (even non-single deep tracks like "Don't Want Anything to Change" and "Dreamwalk Baby" leave in the dust anything by, say, Transvision Vamp) and the 15 studio recordings here are flat-out essential for fans of the style. As for the remaining 30 tracks, just over half are BBC sessions from 1986 and 1987, including early versions of "Crash" (notably slower and driven by a surprisingly up-front, Peter Hook-like bass part, and lacking the immortal "na-na-na" chorus), "Stop Killing Me" (friggin' awesome), and the hazily neo-psychedelic "Ocean Blue" (here stripped down and making plain Court's admitted devotion to the "Femme Fatale" side of the Velvet Underground), and the rest is a 1987 gig at London's ICA that's surprisingly worthwhile. One wouldn't expect this, but the Primitives were actually a fairly tight live act, with Tracy's vocals sounding both stronger and less emotionally detached than they often did on the records. Even Primitives fans who have one of the earlier compilations of the group's indie singles will find much of interest here.