Album Review

Durham Lane

Durham Lane

by Primmers


7 / 10
10th May 2012

Reviewed by Danielle Street


You probably won't remember the Primmers if you are under the age of 50, however you may recall their presence as b-side residents on the iconic AK79 punk compilation. The group had a short yet explosive existence in the late 70s and early 80s, but AK79 has echoed through New Zealand's music history as a go-to reference of the Auckland punk scene at the time. The album featured bands that would continue on to notoriety like Chris Knox's Toy Love, while others, like the Primmers would slide into semi-obscurity. Until now…

Guitarist and vocalist for the Primmers, Cliff 'Skeats' Gravelle, who went on to play with Pen Knife Glides, recently stumbled on to some of the group's previously unreleased material, prompting him to assemble an 11-track retrospective. Named after the central Auckland lane where the AK79 bands based themselves Durham Lane features some of the Primmers more recognised songs alongside the recently unearthed material. Mixed and mastered by Skeats, the combination of demo, studio and live recordings are stitched together to play like a "shambolic live gig".

Leading the album is the two tracks from AK79, the ska-tinged anthem 'You're Gonna Get Done' and 'Funny Stories'. This leads seamlessly on to a cover of 'Germ Free Adolescents', originally performed by X-Ray Spex, Primmers bandmate Miriam Ludbrook emulates the Londoner accent of Polystyrene, and pulls off a pretty good job. In fact the entirety of Durham Lane is a keyboard-heavy nod to the British punk scene at the time. With their UK working-class tone it's easy to forget you are listening to a New Zealand band, until you hear mention of some local landmark like The Occidental.

There are some real gems here including 'Police Wheels', unsurprisingly a song about blue line brutality.... another favourite is the depressive 'Stranger', which draws similarities to The Stranglers with its creepy keyboarding. The story behind why and where these recordings where buried is somewhat a mystery, but luckily they have maintained incredible integrity over the decades. Unfortunately there are very few photos, or even much of a biography to accompany them, however it matters little. Even if you have heard next to zero of the tracks encompassed in Durham Lane it is the Auckland punk retrospective you never knew you wanted.




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