the dividing line cvrThe Dividing Line – The Primevals (Heavy Medication/Triple Wide/Ghost Highway)

It’s 40 years after they formed in the no-nonsense Scottish city of Glasgow and If you haven’t worked out what The Primevals are on about three songs into this, their latest and 14th album, you need to have a wee dram and a good, hard look at yourself.

Admittedly, a band that dates from 1983, worked the European circuit on the back of a French New Rose Records deal, disappeared and resurfaced to start a second life a decade-and-a-half ago and has undergone considerable member churn could be a hit or miss proposition, but The Primevals keep delivering. 

The band bio cites influences like the MC5, The Stooges, Captain Beefheart, Pharoah Sanders, The Gun Club, The Cramps and US ‘60s punk and it’s refreshingly accurate. As far as can be determined from 17,000km away, The Primevals are the real deal. They still sound a lot like they did when they kicked off.

“The Dividing Line” is an ironic title because there are no demarcation lines when it comes to genres that The Primevals are willing to tackle. A bit bluesy, slightly psychedelic, soulful, somewhat jazzy and rocking are accurate descriptors for the 13 songs herewith and there are no pigeonholes.


Opener “The Drop” creeps into view with the coolest of vamping keyboards and a distorted bassline. Drummer Paul Bridges makes it swing, and some stinging guitars pushing their way in and out of the mix offset Michael Rooney’s rich vocal croon.

The bombastic “Sonic Pathway” is a garage-blues brawl between Rooney and an armoury of slide guitar, piano and harmonica. “Drifting Away” is next and treads boldly onto pop-rock turf without losing any of the band’s characteristic toughness. 

Past reviews here have cited the New Christs as a reference point (although maybe an unwitting one on the part of The Primevals) but if you listen to Michael Rooney’s phrasing and s the arrangements, you may agree - especially if your fandom dates from the “Distemper” line-up’s pre-album singles. Cock an ear to “Walking At Night”,

The energy-laden “Grit and Grime” could be a theme song while the observational “High Street” shows a reflective side (and handclaps!) that only weathered old farts can pull off with conviction. Long may they emit methane!


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