Primitive Notion

Vicious StreakPrimitive Notion > Slow Jam

Almost-but-not-quite is how I would best describe Primitive Notion.

Sonically the track is a blast, with the drum performance in particular being some of the strongest on Get Ready. Seriously… there are extraordinary sections in Primitive Notion where the wonderfully-clattering snare loop pattern is then bludgeoned with a bull-in-a-china-shop rush of cymbals. The later addition of rim-shots to emphasise the backbone pattern is ace. I already hold Stephen Morris in the highest esteem as one of the all-time great drummers/programmers, but productions like this are next-level.

In fact here is a rare photo of Morris limbering up for the Primitive Notion session:

giphy

Hooky’s main bass riff is quintessentially simple but excellent, and wraps around the drum pattern like a snake ’round a branch. There are just enough synth elements – e.g. – the subtle reverbed bells that precede the vocal chorus, the sweeping strings behind the bridge and chorus, the acid bleeps, and the gravelly bass tones and sequences in the breaks – that mark the music of Primitive Notion as classic New Order.

But… and I can’t help but look right at Bernard with my critical smile, that it’s the lyrics – plus the thin-sounding vocal production (which sounds so dry in contrast to the raucous party happening behind him) – that hold this song back from glory. Lyrically the song suffers the same fate as many of the mid and latter-period Electronic productions, in that it sounds like Bernard has tried too hard to stick to conventions of rhyme and meter, squeezing out forced words and resulting in clangers like the “…drink this magic potion” / “…’til the day that you, day that you die” couplet, and the truly awful “not even a zoo would impound you” nugget*. And yet, like so many other New Order songs, Sumner redeems himself with a quality soaring chorus – sung with feeling rather than the in-store announcement delivery of Primitive Notion’s verses and bridges.

Had the band sent Bernard home for some minor re-writing, and even brought Dawn Zee in for some backing vox, then perhaps Primitive Notion could have ended up the true nugget** that its potential showed.

* Chicken, not gold…
** Gold, not chicken…

Rating: xxxio

Available on: Get Ready

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7 thoughts on “Primitive Notion

  1. If I heard an instrumental of this track before hearing the finished song, I would imagine it was going to be fantastic. I like what they were going for but, song-writing wise, I don’t think they quite got there.

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  2. Absolutely love this track. It’s up there with Crystal and Someone Like You, for me, as being the albums best tracks.

    Brilliant bass riff and drums. I even really like the guitar on it (I think ‘later period’ New Order guitar all sounds a little the same).

    Yeah, the lyrics are a bit cheesy. The ‘magic potion’ line still makes me cringe now but, to me, it’s a minor annoyance and certainly not the lyrical car crash that was just around the corner (Slow Jam / RTS).

    A fine tune.

    PS Good review. Just thought I’d mention that you’ve referred to the track as ‘Primitive Motion’ throughout. Maybe that ‘Agent Smith moving at speed’ clip put your mind on the ‘notion’ of ‘motion’. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think this is one of the better songs off Get Ready – but its just missing something to make it a classic. I always thought that the music sounds very Joy Division-like, particularly the Heart & Soul style drumming pattern and bass line. I do enjoy the clashing symbols sections and also the underlying subtle synth in the background.

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  4. yep, a good song, and the sound of the vocal draws you in til you realize it’s ‘barney being wonky’ time again. Good chorus, as if the whole thing started with the chorus, the rest of the band did their thing, then Barney failed to bring the goods with verses that were worthy..

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  5. It’s a great song and one of my favourites on GR. Yes, the start is very JD-esque. I take the point it never quite delivers though. Reminds me a bit of Dreams Never End that starts of fantastically but meanders a bit. I don’t mind the lyrics so much – the ‘impound you’ line even reminds me of Every Little Counts and pigs in zoos. As others have said, there are far worse lyrics to come. All in all, it’s a decent update of the Brotherhood-era sound, with nods to their previous history.

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