These days, describing records as world-class is commonplace – and, more often than not, it all turns out to be unwarranted hype. But to avoid using the term when talking about Prime Circle’s latest would do the 12-track album a real disservice.
The fact is that the five-piece’s ‘”Jekyll & Hyde” is easily as good as the top modern rock records impacting the Billboard or UK charts right now – and it’s no wonder that the group is looking to the album as the strongest chance Prime Circle has of breaking new territories (a process already started early this year with a series of dates in India).
Prime Circle is one of South Africa’s most successful rock bands. *
Prime Circle is: Ross Learmonth, Dale Schnettler, Dirk Bisschoff, Marco Gomes and Neil Breytenbach .
The band was formed in December 2001 and signed to an independent label (The David Gresham Record Company). They signed to EMI Music South Africa in March 2008.
Their first album, “Hello Crazy World”, sold over 45,000 units (Platinum) in South Africa. Their 2nd album "Live this Life" sold in excess of 28,600 units (Gold), the current “All or Nothing” is already in excess of 20,000 units(Gold)-making them the one of the biggest selling South African rock acts of 2006/2007/2008.
The new album “All or Nothing” was released in SA at the end of June 2008, and is also available as a Live DVD recording. Prime circle are in the league of multi-platinum selling bands. Prime Circle has played at all of South Africa’s major festivals & concerts. In addition, they have:
- They supported US rock band “Live” on the South African leg of their Birds of Pray world tour.
- In 2005 & 2007, the band performed at the Nelson Mandela's 46664 concerts, and they’re South African Ambassadors for the 46664 organization.
- They’ve played alongside the likes of: Metallica, Collective Soul, Simple Plan, Seether, Korn, Muse, 30 Seconds to Mars, Good Charlotte, Chris Cornell, Kaiser Chiefs (and more) at an annual festival called MyCokeFest (in 2006 & 2008).
- They’ve played in the UK and Dubai on several occasions- as well as Namibia.
Prime Circle enter 2009 as the leading rock band in South Africa, buoyed by several explosive live performances, a gold-selling album, significant radio play and, waiting in the wings, a bold assault on the international market.
That Ross Learmonth, Dale Schnettler, Dirk Bisschoff, Neil Breytenbach and Marco Gomes have dominated the rock scene in South Africa is hardly surprising. After all, prior to 2008, the five-piece had supported the release of their first two albums with a commitment to hard work and through a workmanlike approach to gigging and a brace of radio hits, rapidly built up a loyal fan base.
Still, with the release of third album, ‘All or Nothing’ and a new deal with EMI Music South Africa in place, Prime Circle have managed a most difficult feat over the past year: that is to elevate their standing in the South African music industry even further, at a time when tough economic conditions have issued artists with increasing challenges. Perhaps the most easily recognizable reason for this is the power of a Prime Circle live performance.
The band has always been known for igniting stages but late January 2009 saw Prime Circle cement its live status with a performance at Cape Town’s Kirstenbosch Gardens that still has fans talking. The show was part of the popular Old Mutual Summer Sunset concert series and saw a sold-out crowd transforming the World Heritage site into a near-spiritual location as Learmonth and the band delivered what is undoubtedly their best live set yet.
As a companion piece to the albums, Prime Circle’s live DVD is expected to find a strong footing with the band’s devoted fan base – and gives newcomers to their music a chance to feel the band’s live energy in full force. This is especially important given the international impact Prime Circle is poised to have over the coming year when ‘All or Nothing’ is released into key global markets.
Listening to the album gives additional – and undisputable – evidence of just why Prime Circle has managed to reach gold status, just six months after ‘All or Nothing’ hit the South African market – and simultaneously stamped its sound all over the country’s rock, all hit and adult contemporary radio stations.
Indeed, one of the key radio singles off the album – ‘She Always gets What She Wants’ – is an album standout that reveals Prime Circle as a band capable of producing songs that are easily on a par with the best work of international stars Nickelback, 3 Doors Down and Daughtry.
The song also signals a more melodic direction for the rock band – it’s slow build and use of layered vocals creating an utterly memorable piece of music.
And the sonic surprises do not end with this song: With its call and response vocals “All I Need” is more indie than mainstream and album closer, “Tear It Down”, is part post-punk, part full tilt rock and ends the album on the most exhilarating note.
“Hey Now” is similarly infused with a resonant beauty that comes from a combination of front-man Learmonth’s heartfelt singing, the tug of drum loops and, most noticeably, the inclusion of a pretty mesmerising keyboard melody in the song.
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