NICE TO CATS
Graffiti Magazine (Canadian)
Vol. 4 No. 8 (circa June 88)
Perry Stern

 

New bands often have to resort to gimmicks to get the often overtaxed attention of the so-called music press. It is always a huge relief on the part of the aforementioned press when a band lives up to, or even beyond, the hype. The Primitives have done just that. With the Top Five British hit single "Crash" and their Top 10 debut album, the too modestly titled Lovely, the Prims have become the current darlings of the critical elite.

In fact, the press has become so enamored that they've spared Tracey Tracey, the diminutive blonde-bobbed singer for the band, the label "chart chippie", which they have gleefully bestowed upon the Debbies, Tiffanys and Samanthas that abound of late. Says Tracey: "The Debbies and Tiffanys go into the studio and come out an hour later -- Hey presto! -- with a number one hit. That's not us at all, and I think the Primitives will be around a lot longer because of it."

Mind you, the band have not been averse to a bit of subterfuge in the past. Their first single, "Through The Flowers", cost "£6 to make and went to #2 on the indie charts." Then there was the firing of their original drummer, Pete Tweedie, last year. Not content with the usual excuse of "artistic differences", the band attributed his departure to Tweedie's perverse proclivity for torturing cats. "Oh, that," Tracey says now. "That was just the press, wasn't it?"

And how about manager Wayne Morris? With Malcolm McLaren at the apex, the British music scene has been weighed down under a mountain of Barnum-esque managers. Morris, it seems, helped finance the band by opening a T-shirt emporium that featured the phenomenally successful (and equally tasteless) "concert" T-shirt for "Hitler's World tour 1939-45." "It probably was a bit unsound," Morris stated in the NME recently, "though no politics were meant to be implied. But it did make a lot of money for us, which was then pumped into the band."

When the record was finally completed, three years, three producers and two drummers later, Morris charged A&R men 1,000 to listen to the tapes, with the cheques to be made out to him personally. When one company refused to line the manager's pockets, but wanted to hear the album, a donation was made to the Coventry Cats Protection League instead. Who says there's no justice?

Tracey says about Morris, "Well he is a colorful guy!"; however, she attributes most of the attention he gets to the fact that he lives in London, while the band ("Perfect" Paul Court, guitar; Steve Dullaghan, bass; Tig Williams, drums) live in Coventry. At any rate, now that The Primitives are getting their rightful due, people are falling all over themselves with comparisons to every credible band with a female vocalist. To me they sound more like the Jesus and Marianne Faithful Gang (that's '60's breathy Marianne, not '80's foghorn Marianne) than Blondie or The Pretenders, but Tracey makes a strong point that The Primitives are a band, not a singer with a group. "We're four people getting together, sorting it out and writing it down," she says. "You can't get away from it. We're a band, full stop."