This coming weekend, I will take to the airwaves of WWSP-90FM, my college radio alma mater, as part of their annual reunion weekends. It will be my first time presiding over a radio program in nine years and my first time on 90FM in over fifteen years. I commemoration, I’m devoting this week to slightly displaced “One for Friday” posts, touching on each of my five years as a student broadcaster. To borrow a line from Robyn Hitchcock, “I didn’t write these songs; they wrote me.”
Tracy Tracy hung over the beat up old mattress in my college bedroom. Well, she was there in one of my college bedrooms anyway. I was never one to aggressively fortify my own music collection with extra copies of records or CDs that came into the station, believing all that material to be prime for on-air giveaways. Posters, though, were a different matter. Those were fair game, and I had off-campus housing to decorate. So when the release of the second album by the Primitives, Pure, was accompanied by the arrival of a gigantic poster — measuring roughly three feet by four feet –I was quick to claim it.
There’s no denying that a certain helpless crush I nurtured provided some motivation for putting a larger than life version of the Primitives’ lead singer up on my wall, but I swear it was an entirely disconnected joy in the band’s music that provoked my to tack it to the paneling in my room of residence in the house I shared with enough fellow station toilers to stock a basketball team. The Primitives’ debut album, Lovely, was a glistening presence in the new music rotation when I started at the radio station, and it set the standard for what great pop music should sound like on the left end of the dial. If anything, I liked Pure, released in the fall of my sophomore year of college, even better. Like its predecessor, the album sported a single — in this case, “Sick of It” — that was just about perfect.
Pure also holds a nifty distinction in the annals of WWSP-90FM, one that practically carbon dates it to its time. When I showed up at the station, almost everything we played was still off of records. There was one CD player and a fairly dismal cluster of CDs in the corner, a collection that never seemed to grow in number as sticky-fingered DJs figured out how easy they were to smuggle out of the station. By one year later, the situation was shifting. We still tried to get vinyl copies of everything from the labels that serviced the station, but they were increasingly disinterested in acquiescing. For a while we were doubling up where we could, putting in both CD and vinyl record copies of new releases and letting the on-air staff decide which format they used, with a surprising number maintaining loyalty to the act of setting a needle in place. That cut into the airplay of the albums that we possessed only in the CD format. Pure was one of those releases, and it became the first album without a vinyl copy on premises to top the station’s weekly chart. Clearly, I wasn’t the only one who was enamored.
Listen or download –> The Primitives, “Sick of It”
(Disclaimer: Usually, I do my best to make sure the songs I share are unavailable for physical purchase. For this week, I’m scrapping that rule. Instead, I actively urge anyone who enjoys the shared track to treat it as a tantalizing sample and to go out and buy the full-length album on which it resides, preferably from your favorite local, independently-owned record store. I’m thrilled to be going to my favorite this Sunday. I will gladly and promptly remove the file from my little corner of the digital world if asked to do so by any individual or entity with due authority to make such a request.)