Primevals keep powering into their second life
New Trip – The Primevals (Triple Wide)
Four decades and 11 albums into this caper, Glasgow’s Primevals are doing the rough and ready rock and roll thing as well as anyone, and better than most.
Well into their second life after reformation, their consistency is astounding. “New Trip” was spawned in lockdown, recorded over two fraught months in late 2020 and hit the online racks, via the band's own imprint, early this year.
The Primevals have the happy knack of referencing so many other classic bands but sounding like themselves. Garage Rock is a lazy, catch-all term and only an approximation in this case. The Primevals shun labelling and straddle Americana, psychedelia and vaguely Nuggets rockers. Comparators like the Gun Club get bandied about and you can throw in the melodic smarts of the Real Kids and the sharp edge of the New Christs, but these rocking Scots are their own selves.
Vocalist Michael Rooney croons and snarls while guitarists Tom Rafferty and Martyyn Rodger summon up a broad palette of sounds to provide the colour and movement.. Their ex-bassist John Honeyman has moved to keys and is prominent throughout. His washes fill the spaces and give the band’s sound depth.
“Hey Love” is a punchy opener but the killer bookend is the closer, “New Trip”, where a slinky Andy Gillespie bassline provides the bedrock for funky, stabbing funk guitar and feedback. It’s a seven minute-plus psychedelic opus capped by Rooney’s doom-tinged vocal.
“Intrusive Thought” is a slice of psychodrama that sounds like the New Christs crossed with DMZ, while “All That Matters” channels some country guitar licks before shifting gear to rock. There’s more of the same in “County Line”.
Rolling electric piano and sustain guitar pepper the social commentary of “Euthanasia of the Youth” while “Only You” amps up the raunch factor with withering harmonica and more crunching guitars. Abstract synth adds a touch of Hawkwind.
Expecting the unexpected should be par for the course if you’ve been listening – after all, Honeyman and Rooney moonlight as a Captain Beefheart tribute duo in their spare time – but more than anything, “New Trip” leaves a mark as a mighty rock and roll record. That’s something we should treasure more than ever in these troubled times.