Escape From Musical Witness Protection and ...ON THE TRAIL!
20 years to the day of their last gig as support act on BIG COUNTRY’S 1986 UK “Seer” tour, The PRIME MOVERS: SEVERS RAMSEY and GARY PUTMAN, have reunited.
With new drummer GARY FALASCO, Ramsey and Putman promise a return to the stripped down, three piece, guitar-based psychedelic sound that made them a live favorite in the Los Angeles area. Also in the works is a new album of original material and remastered CD versions of their back catalog.
A lot going on for a band that had virtually dropped from sight in 1988.
The Prime Movers signed to Island Records in 1986 and had two singles, ON THE TRAIL and DARK WESTERN NIGHT enter the UK charts. The band received coveted support slots on the BIG COUNTRY UK tour and The THOMAS DOLBY Aliens Ate My Buick US tour and received massive airplay on The
BBC in the UK.
The Prime Mover song, STRONG AS I AM was chosen for a pivotal spot in director MICHAEL MANN'S cult thriller, MANHUNTER. The motion picture introduced Thomas Harris' infamous anti-hero, HANNIBAL LECHTOR, and was recently released on DVD to excellent reviews. Critic Leonard Maltin called Manhunter better than SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. Strong As I Am was included in the Manhunter Soundtrack album and later released by MCA as a single. MICHAEL MANN liked it so much that he personally financed the making of the Strong As I Am video.
Despite this success... The PRIME MOVERS disappeared. WHY?!!
The Prime Movers definitely fell from favor with Island Records founder, CHRIS BLACKWELL, although the reason is unknown. A German Manhunter website opines that it was bad blood between Island and MCA who issued the Manhunter soundtrack album and the Strong As I Am 45 that caused the rift. Others say that it was caused by Island A&R man, IAN MATTHEWS, famous as a founding member of FAIRPORT CONVENTION, who had originally signed the band and wanted to take The Prime Movers with him to a new label when he was sacked by Island.
And then there was the GRACE JONES story...
Apparently, deep in the bowels of Island Records London headquarters, there was a GRACE JONES mannequin head set up to take publicity shots. Island would pass these “bust-shots” off as real photos of Grace... a very realistic looking dummy and nicely lit! After a Prime Mover photo session in the same room, the Grace head came up missing. A righteously peeved Blackwell blamed the Prime Movers and promptly put a freeze (a deep freeze!) on all future projects.
Island would not let the Prime Movers put out new material, nor would they release them from their recording contract. Despite offers from other majors, especially Rhino Records who were very interested, The Prime Movers found themselves virtually out of business with absolutely no label backing.
It was then that The PRIME MOVERS hit on the bright idea to record new music under an assumed name - the crazier the concept the better. As JAH PAUL JO and PUT-MON, Ramsey and Putman recruited some old friends and entered their own, self-induced Musical Witness Protection Program: DREAD ZEPPELIN was born.
Started as a joke in 1989, little did The Prime Movers know that DREAD ZEPPELIN would get signed to IRS/MCA Records and sell over a million copies of their classic first album, Un Led ED.
Between 1989 and 1995, DREAD ZEPPELIN went on to record five more albums all produced by RAMSEY and former Prime Mover sound man, RASTA LI-MON (LEE MANNING). Dread Zeppelin’s extraordinary popularity continues to this day and are described by the Internet site Wikipedia as “The Ultimate Tribute Band.” Led Zeppelin’s ROBERT PLANT loved the band and called Dread Zeppelin’s version of YOUR TIME IS GONNA COME better than the original. High praise, indeed!
In 1996, Severs Ramsey was finally able to secure the rights to all of the Prime Movers music from Island for his own Birdcage Records. At that time, he shared management with a popular UK band called THE CHRISTIANS who just happened to be Island Records’ top seller. The Christians
refused to deliver Island any new material until the label signed off on The Prime Movers and restored all rights to their songs and albums. Saved by The Christian’s Crusade.
“This is a wonderful musical experiment,” says RAMSEY. “Gary and I have always worked well together and we’re having a gas writing the new stuff.”
"We actually tried to get the Movers together once before. In 1993, DREAD ZEPPELIN had broken up and we started rehearsals for a new version of the group". It was then that DREAD ZEPPELIN were summoned, by personal request of (the late - sob!) MICHAEL HUTCHENCE and INXS to open their
entire North American tour. The PRIME MOVERS had to go on the back burner.
"But we've had enough of a break now... I think we've had enough time to get our heads together."
In addition to the newly re-issued MUSEUM (1985), due for remastering are albums SPOOKED (1987), NAKED LADY GUITAR (1988) and a Live CD and DVD. Also in the works is a CD of all new material tentatively titled COUNSELOR -30-.