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Primus - Green Naugahyde CD (album) cover




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3.84 | 65 ratings

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3 stars Les Claypool, the Jaco Pastorius of the Lollapalooza crowd, returns after a long hiatus with another unique collection of highly caffeinated funk rock. It's been twelve years since the last Primus studio album, but Claypool and company pick up right about where they left off, as always sounding not unlike delinquent cousins to RUSH, one of their obvious role models, and stage mates in tours gone by.

Stylistically the album rings true to the Primus tradition. Songs with titles like "Eyes of a Squirrel" and "Jilly's On Smack" could only have come from one band, while "Moron TV" and "Eternal Consumption Engine" sound like ideas left behind by THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION...which makes sense, coming from a trio sounding like Zappa on steroids.

And where else would you hear a tune inspired by spaghetti-western star Lee Van Cleef? ("There's only one Clint", sings Claypool, but "you know I like to see ol' Lee...") A quick digression: apparently Mr. Claypool's taste in film is no less eclectic than his songwriting skills. Among his favorites are movies directed by Stanley Kubrick, Frank Capra, Elia Kazan, Sam Raimi, and Paul Thomas Anderson.

Primus fans will know to expect a lot of narrative non-sequiturs, inside jokes, and virtuoso bass guitar gymnastics (of course). These days Claypool seems to favor a peculiar liquid bass sound (heard best in "Hennepin Crawler", and "Tragedy's a-Comin'"), which makes a good fit alongside the busy precision of returning drummer Jay Lane, who Claypool credits with reinvigorating the dormant band.

My only gripe, and not for the first time with this band, is that the vocals are too low in the mix. Les Claypool's lyrics are typically the most amusing aspect of any Primus album, but his adenoidal drawl can be hard to fathom without a lyric sheet (included, fortunately).

And the music itself is often not as fully realized as on earlier Primus efforts, often resembling experimental jams with added vocals, rather than traditional rock songs (that's a backhanded compliment, by the way). A grumpier listener might accuse the band of falling into a rut; I prefer to regard the new album as a reassertion of their unorthodox musical credentials after being off the grid too long (in pop culture terms: like, forever).

Either way, it's good to have them back, and in fine form, too. Let's hope another twelve years don't pass before their next album.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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