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Primus - Frizzle Fry CD (album) cover




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4.03 | 151 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
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4 stars After the solid live debut in Suck on This, Primus released their debut studio effort in Frizzle Fry in 1990 on Caroline records (they would make the jump to Interscope before making their next album, which would be considered their best). But let me say this before you read further or consider Primus as your next purchase, this group is definitely not for everyone. If you aren't into heavily bass oriented rock that strays into many different territories than this album won't change your opinion as the bass is really the centerpiece of the album. Also, if you like serious introspective lyrics and vocals you won't find that here either, the approach is closer to Zappa vocally than anything else (which I know doesn't always sit well with people who like serious music). That said, I think of all the early Primus albums Frizzle Fry is the best, as it has them at their most creative and their most willing to try new things. But I'm not the judge of what you like, I'm only writing this to inform you on how I feel about it and hope that it helps you.

Anyway, the album opens with a brief segment from the introduction of Rush's YYZ before going head first into To Defy The Laws of Tradition, which is a nice riff based hard rock song with some nice shrill Fripp-esque chords from LeLonde and a steady and complicated bass line from Claypool as well as a great drum beat from Alexander. Groundhog's Day has a nice laidback bass line from Claypool and some fluid leads from LeLonde comprising of the main motif. Nothing really else besides that, which takes up most of the song anyway. Too Many Puppies is probably the heaviest song on the album, and it's a pretty solid piece that doesn't stray into uncharted territory but it has a nice enough riff with a great anti-war message beneath it all. Solid playing on all players parts here. Mr. Knowitall has a great drum performance from Alexander but after that it pretty much is a standard affair with some okay lyrics and some fun yet predictable bass/guitar playing. Frizzle Fry is one of the best pieces on the album mainly because of the spectacular bass playing by Claypool and a nice ethereal guitar part on LeLonde. The bass interludes are also great because of the overall feel it conveys, as well as it just sounds plain awesome.

John the Fisherman was the single from the album, and though it has a similar overall progression and feel to the opener of the album To Defy the Laws of Tradition (despite a cool introduction with some great distorted bass), it's a harmless piece of fun mainly about being a fisherman in the San Francisco Bay Area (where Primus hails from). You Can't Kill Michael Malloy is a little interlude that isn't even actually by Primus, but was written by Matthew Winegar. It's a bit of an odd piece that doesn't really have a place on this album, but it's short and it's harmless, so it doesn't really bother me that much. The Toys Go Winding Down has a frenetic and fast paced bass riff from Claypool (after a somewhat joyous intro) and some great drumming and guitar work from Alexander and LeLonde. This is actually one of the best and most engaging pieces on the album and one of my favorites, as well. Pudding Time has some simplistic chord based guitar themes and a frantic rhythmic section (although the guitars do get a bit hectic as well with the leads and the sawing high pitched chords). It's not my favorite piece on the album, nor was it my favorite piece when it premiered on Suck on This.

Sathington Willoughby is a character name that would appear on many Primus albums in different variations (Sathington Waltz on Sailing the Seas of Cheese and The Return of Sathington Willoughby on The Brown Album). It's a short vocal led piece that acts as more of an interlude to Spegetti Western than anything else. Spegetti Western begins with a technical and precision drum beat from Alexander (who makes good use of the kit throughout the album) and some spacey feedback from LeLonde before Claypool's vocals come in before a great slap bassed bass line comes in with some wild Frippian guitar ideas in the background (LeLonde seems influenced by Andy Summers, Robert Fripp, and Frank Zappa from what I can gather in his overall sound). It's a great song and the next piece is equally as great. Harold of the Rocks is a burst of energy with some refreshing wah tones and some strong drumming/bass interplay between Claypool and Alexander before some great instrumental interludes (especially a bluesy one towards the end that really is a spot for LeLonde to show his definite soloing style and his abilities). To Defy is essentially a short reiteration of the opening theme and it ends the album much like it began, giving the whole thing a continuous feel.

In the end, this is probably my favorite Primus studio album. Granted, it's not perfect and it doesn't really have a lot that can be called progressive, but there are moments when you really can hear some great creativity and some incredibly technical musicianship shine through. If I were to recommend one Primus album to you it would be this one mainly because most of this album is very strong (there's some ok material that I'm not wowed by but that's few and far between). Primus definitely isn't for everyone, but if you want to give them a shot, I'd say get this album or Sailing the Seas of Cheese (their next studio effort). 4.5/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 4/5 |


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