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Primus - The Brown Album CD (album) cover




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3.17 | 81 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
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Honorary Collaborator
2 stars After the stellar 1995 album Tales from the Punchbowl Primus returned to the studio and produced this effort, which was released in 1997. The most notable difference besides the more laid back approach and sound is the absence of the fantastic Tim "Herb" Alexander on drums, who is replaced by longtime friend of the group Brian "Brain" Mantia. This album has some nostalgic value for me as it was my first Primus experience and when I first listened to this album I loved every minute, but having listened to every other album in their catalogue I come back to this album and don't hear the great sounds in the vein of Tales from the Punchbowl and Frizzle Fry. No, I hear something different and it's really not that great. Let me just say, though, that the chops and skills of the musicians still are intact, they just don't have the same power and feel more subdued than anything else.

Now, this album isn't entirely bad, there are a few pieces that are pretty nice and help bring this album out of the dumps. The first is The Return of Sathington Willoughby, which happens to be the opener of the album. The rally type approach to the song (with the vocals being presented in speech form) is really cool and I like the guitar and bass interplay in the song during the interludes. Camelback Cinema has some spectacular drumming on it on Mantia's part and a driving riff from LeLonde and Claypool as Claypool sings about, "Burt in White Lightning". Hats Off is a short piece that musically feels like a piece from the 50s with a clean and sharp guitar sound and some nice upright bass from Claypool. Bob's Part Time Lounge, as I said in my review for Rhinoplasty, is one of the better songs on the album, with nice atmospheric work from the entire group until the choruses, which has a muddy and dissonant chord progression to go along with that spacey atmosphere. Coddingtown has a frantic and frenetic feel in the riffing and the vocals about buying various things in Coddingtown is humorous. Kalamazoo has the feel of a 40s song but in a more modern atmosphere and the simplistic lyrics compliment that sentiment perfectly. The Chastising of Renegade is also a fun piece with some cool playing on Claypool's part and some fun vocals/lyrics.

In the end, the Brown Album is the weakest Primus album by far. There are some redeeming factors in it, but I'm not terribly impressed by and by. Fans of Primus will probably find something to like about this album, like I did, but the drastic change in sound and the subpar songs will most likely make them look at this album with a stern look on their face. Definitely not recommended if you've not heard of Primus yet, go for one of their early albums as you'll find a lot more enjoyment in those albums. 2.5/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 2/5 |


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