Forgotten Albums: The Primitives, Lovely

To date, a decent majority of entries in the Forgotten Albums series have been for disks I bought between 1988 and 1992. That makes some sense, I was buying scads of CDs then. Relatedly, it was also when my “adult” musical tastes were forming: female singer/songwriters, folk-rock/jangle pop, melodic college/alternative, with a dollop of country tossed in here and there for good measure. The means of discovery varied–TV, friends, Rolling Stone, hearing them played in record stores–where did those days go? Today’s album is another one introduced to me by Greg after we started hanging out in early 1990, a real dazzler that had come out of Britain a couple of years earlier.

The Primitives, led by guitarist/songwriter Paul Court and vocalist Tracy Tracy, came to notice with a few singles in 1986-87 and soon garnered enough positive buzz to warrant a record deal with RCA. Some of those early songs were re-recorded and added to others to form Lovely, which came out in the spring of 1988. Full of shimmer and 60s retro-stylings, Lovely became a Top 10 LP in the U.K.; two of its songs made the U.S. Modern Rock Tracks chart as well. Let’s sample a few of its delights.

The big hit on Lovely is lead-off track “Crash,” in which Tracy gives a potential suitor the kiss-off because he’s being a bit too reckless. It was a #5 hit in Britain and made #3 on MRT here–would that the U.S. pop market had given it a shot. Two-and-a-half minutes of pop bliss.

Eastern influences abound on “Shadow.” A true highlight, it sounds like nothing else on the album (and perhaps not like anything else coming out at the time).

One of those re-recorded early singles is “Thru the Flowers.” Love the fuzz. (Here’s the original.)

“Way Behind Me” came out as a single after Lovely‘s initial release but was included on later pressings (including the U.S. version). It also found a spot on Pure, their second album. It’s likely my favorite overall Primitives tune–simply brilliant.

Another single that charted in the U.K. was “Out of Reach.” I found this clip of a 7″ version of the song–it’s somewhat shorter and has a different mix from what I’ve known and loved all these years, but well worth a listen.

Court’s vocals are more prominent on a couple of Lovely‘s songs, including the closer, “Buzz Buzz Buzz.”

Court and Tracy are still active in the Primitives–they recorded a charming pandemic version of “Buzz Buzz Buzz” almost eighteen months ago, if you’re interested in seeing them in their current incarnations.

Lovely was the Primitives’ peak, both commercially and artistically; the two followups, Pure and Galore, each have their moments but in the end aren’t as satisfying. The members of the band went their separate ways in 1992, though they did re-form seventeen years later.

Lovely is indeed a lovely album, one I find myself revisiting regularly. If it’s not familiar, I definitely recommend taking it for a spin.

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