Primer 55 — The Big Fuck You
After going on hiatus in 2003, the result of tensions between the band and their label, as well as vocalist Jason Luttrell's substance abuse issues, Primer 55 remained inactive for approximately 4 years. The band re-formed in 2007 and resumed touring, but parted ways with Luttrell in 2008, with his addiction problems, again, being the stated reason. Guitarist and co-founder Bobby Burns later formed a new incarnation of the band featuring Donnie "The DRP" Polinske on vocals, resumed touring and was to release a new album in 2010. This record never materialised and Burns would go on to disband the group and reunite with Luttrell. Primer 55 assembled their debut EP, As Seen On TV, acoustic versions of old songs, as well as unreleased tracks under the title of The Big Fuck You in early 2012.
The tracks that made it from the EP to Introduction To Mayhem (review) sound mostly the same, although the production is a little dirtier and doesn't feature all of the DJ overdubs that were added later. None of the instrumental segues from Introduction To Mayhem are present either. Among the previously unreleased tracks is my favourite Primer 55 track, "Bullshit." If someone knows about Primer 55 at all, it's most likely because of their breakout single "Loose." And with good reason, too — it's such a stupid, catchy jam — and "Bullshit" has the same caveman energy but with an even greater sense of urgency and tension. "Release," "Slip Away" and "Drive It" are decent but also mostly interchangeable with the rest of what made it onto Introduction To Mayhem. The end of "Violence" includes the entirety of a 2-minute audio clip about the word 'fuck' that was the equivalent of a viral meme at the turn of the millennium. The recording is often attributed to George Carlin, but it's definitely not him; in 2019, it is so cringeworthy that it curled my toes when I realised what I was hearing.
The acoustic versions of "Texas," "This Life" and "My Girl" — all originally from the group's second album, (The) New Release (review) — are interesting... "Texas" sheds some of its sleaze in acoustic form, while "This Life" loses something in translation without the contrast of the clean and distorted guitar passages. "My Girl" is the weakest of the 3 tracks, a competent rendition but it strongly underscores Luttrell's limitations as a vocalist. To his credit, Luttrell's performance is better than I would have expected given what he sounds like on the studio records. The live performances are earnest, but this is absolutely not the format for Primer 55's material. I'm impressed with the effort — this could have been much worse — but there are numerous rough moments.
Primer 55 have always been a novelty to me. For whatever reason, I've had a fixation on the project for a very long time; from their rap metal debut to the alt-metal style changeup of their sophomore record, I've enjoyed the bulk their recorded output. The Big Fuck You is an interesting collection of material. You go from the primitive initial tracks that got the band signed to the last recordings — the acoustic cuts — Jason Luttrell would appear on before his death in 2018. It may not have been intended as a final release, but The Big Fuck You does a goob job encapsulating both extremes of the musical spectrum Primer 55 operated in.
Like all of the band's material, The Big Fuck You is not an essential release. One could live a full life without ever delving into the Primer 55 discography. For those interested in this relatively obscure group, it's worth hearing the As Seen On TV material and the acoustic tracks if you're any sort of completist. In 2019, this is even more of a novelty than the band's studio albums. As a fan Primer 55 since their debut, I find The Big Fuck You provides a sort of closure, although I am hard pressed to see any reason to recommend it to any but the most curious fans willing to dig into the early aughts and the nu metal genre.
As far as a rarities release is concerned, this is pretty good. As Seen On TV effectively does not exist in any other form, and, unless you track down the Family For Life compilation from 2007, this is the only way to hear the acoustic versions. Whether that's a feature or a bug is an exercise for the listener.
A combination of the band's debut EP and 3 acoustic versions of material from the band's last studio album, The Big Fuck You appeals to a very niche audience — even moreso now than when it was released. If you're an afficianado of nu metal and second-tier acts like Primer 55 then this and the band's pair of full-length records comprise the whole discography. There's nothing here that is going to change the mind of someone who dislikes the band or the genre / era from which they came — these are deep cuts for the committed few. In that regard, The Big Fuck You is an excellent release. That said, it is a relic of a bygone era and hardly any sort of mandatory listening — this is for completists and deviants.
Release date: February 4th, 2012
Record label: Rocket Science Ventures
Jason "J-Sin" Luttrell — vocals
Bobby Burns — guitar, bass, vocals
Jr. — bass
Josh McLane — drums
- Supa Freak Love
- The Big Fuck You
- Drive It
- Slip Away
- Against The Wall
- Profanity (And A Lot Of It)
- Texas (Acoustic)
- This Life (Acoustic)
- My Girl (Acoustic)
Published: August 23rd, 2019.