Back in the eighties Glasgow pop had one of its occasional high points with chart attacks from honey voiced crooners and literate jangle rockers. Lurking beneath the surface however was a tribe of rock ‘n’ rollers drinking from the well of primal beat. James King, The Kissing Bandits and The Cuban Heels all danced around this totem but chief of all and the only survivors are The Primevals. The Primevals were cooler, greasier. They were wired to the mainframe, sucking from the teats of The Cramps, The Gun Club, The Saints and Mike Wilhelm’s biker rock with a healthy dose of Captain Beefheart and some free jazz from the likes of Sun Ra and Pharaoh Saunders included. A heady mix indeed and one which offered them the opportunity to release several albums on the famed new Rose records and gain cult status in France, always appreciative of leather clad rock’n’rollers.
Recording throughout the eighties they petered out in the next decade but since 2000 have had sporadic reunions and live gigs with a release in 2007, ‘There Is No Other Life…And This Is It” on their own label , Triple Wide. A fabulous compilation of their New Rose recordings entitled ‘On the Red Eye’ came out around 2005 and is well recommended for anyone interested in a Glasgow take on garage rock or indeed anyone with a working nervous system. Now, four years down the line since their last offering The Primevals have a new disc out, Disinhibitor, a title Bobby Gillespie must be kicking himself for missing out on, and a short tour of old French haunts coming up.
So, thirty years on can the then young acolytes of rebel rock still cut the mustard. The answer is undoubtedly yes. Never ones to simply barrel down a basic route The Primevals here deliver a huge slab of sound which is rooted in sixties raunch with a punk attitude and a knowing wink to outsider music. Older and wiser perhaps but certainly more grizzled they pack a punch that from the off hits the listener in the gut. Anyone who digs the MC5 will be totally hooked by the two and a half minute maelstrom of Defying Science that opens the album. From here on in it’s a roller coaster of a ride with the band delivering visceral tunes such as American Road Trip and Venus Uncovered, the latter channelling the Cramps’ pile driver rhythm with an almost unhinged edge to it. Guitarist Malcolm McDonald is all over the album with screaming slide and howling feedback, his best moment perhaps on The Shape That Life Bent Me Into which almost out guns The Gun Club. In addition he plays some wild freakout organ on Someone To Love. With a rock solid rhythm section in Paul Bridges and John Honeyman song after song here drills into the listener. Ringmaster and vocalist Michael Rooney towers over the songs, full throated and super cool especially on Superfreak V11, a twisted psychedelic storm of a song. With 18 songs crammed into an hour there is no let up here for the listener, when the band temporarily abandon their blitzkrieg rock ‘n’ roll for a more “mellow” approach they hit you with waves of alto sax from the church of Albert Ayler.
Sixties band The Creation described their sound thus “ our music is red with purple flashes.” The Primevals are a modern day version of this but they do it in high definition. Overall a triumph and a must for anyone who equates rock ‘n’ roll with leather trousers and a bad attitude.
Website with tour dates
American Road Trip