Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Primitives - "Crash" (forgotten song)

I was driving a rental car last week and enjoying satellite radio, mostly the channel "1st Wave" which plays mildly alternatively pop music from the 70s & 80s. On came a song that I only barely recognized, so I checked the display and saw that it was "Crash" from The Primitives.

I didn't recognize the band name or even the song title, but I could just barely remember having heard the song before. But where? I can't recall hearing it on the radio or MTV (the video is not familiar either). Investigating after I returned, I discovered it was a single from their 1988 LP "Lovely" and apparently charted very well in the UK and US. 1988 would have been when I was in college, perhaps it was on the radio, or someone down the hall in the dorm, or some random party.

I did discover that a slightly tarted up version was used in the 1994 film "Dumb and Dumber", but I've only seen that film once so I doubt I'm remembering it from the movie. Although the original version came out in 1988, the sound is more like 1982.

The song itself is harmless fluff that would be at home on a soundtrack to a John Hughes film; I'm more intrigued by my partial memory of it since it is unusual for me to not remember a song's context. Do you remember "Crash"? If so, let me know.

Crash: 1988 version

Crash: 1995 version

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Slowdive - "Holding Our Breath" (LP Review)

I'm a big fan of Slowdive and had thought I had the entire discography, but I recently discovered they had quite a number of singles and EPs prior to their breakthrough 1991 LP "Just for a Day". Eager to complete my collection, I recently acquired their 1991 4-song EP "Holding Our Breath". It is out of print, so I ended up purchasing the EP on iTunes since the going price for a CD is pretty steep. The EP appears to be the "Catch the Breeze" 7" single extended with two more songs.

The four songs showcase the band's sound firmly in the shoegazing genre: swirling guitar effects, dreamy vocals, slow rhythms; this EP is arguably more in the shadow of MBV than their later LPs. "Golden Hair" is a cover of a Syd Barrett song (actually a James Joyce poem Barrett set to music), "Catch the Breeze" (which appears on "Just for a Day") and "Albatross" are solid songs, but the standout is "Shine".

I love the vocal duo of Rachel Goswell and Neil Halstead, but "Shine" just reinforces what I think of every time I listen to an LP from Slowdive or Mojave 3 (a post-Slowdive band featuring Goswell & Halstead): Rachel should have sang more frequently/prominently. Her voice fits the genre perfectly. Nothing against Neil, but while he seemed to be featured of the duo, it was Rachel that really defined their sound. She is the primary (only?) vocalist on "Shine" and the result is an achingly beautiful song, maybe even Slowdive's best.

Standout songs: "Shine", "Catch the Breeze" (live version 1991), "Albatross"

Skip 'em songs: none.

Final score: 7/10. "Golden Hair" is nothing special, and "Catch the Breeze" appears elsewhere. I thought about giving it a 6/10, but "Shine" elevates it to the point that a serious collection should have this EP. I hope to eventually acquire a hard copy version in the future.