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Primus - Tales From the Punchbowl CD (album) cover

TALES FROM THE PUNCHBOWL

Primus

 

Prog Related

3.84 | 67 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Primus' final studio effort with Tim Alexander on the kit (for eight years, as they would reunite in 2003) is easily on par with their first two studio albums (not including Suck on This, which was live) Frizzle Fry and Sailing the Seas of Cheese. This album, titled Sailing the Seas of Cheese, would also prove to be one of Primus' most experimental albums. This album would also yield two of the best songs in the Primus catalogue in Wynona's Big Brown Beaver and the Crimsonian Southbound Pachyderm, which are in my opinion two of the greatest songs released in the 90s. Surrounding those two songs (which are in the beginning of the album) are a mixture of varying influences and ideas, yet they don't get too ambitious with the variety, which is a good thing.

Since there are an abundant amount of tracks, I'll talk about the ones that were really mindblowing for me. The album opens with Professor Nutbutter's House of Treats, which is a very industrial sounding track with droning and relentlessly heavy chords rounding out a main rhythm (it sounds somewhat similar to the song The Big Dance off of Alex Lifeson's solo album Victor, which had Claypool on bass). Fantastic and a bit of a longer piece for the group, running just a tad over 7 minutes. Wynona's Big Brown Beaver is a bit of a rockier piece that has a rockabilly feel to it. It also shows a definite Zappa influence in the massive use of double entendres in the lyrics. There's a nice banjo solo in there from LeLonde as well. Southbound Pachyderm is easily the best song on the album and probably the most progressive piece as well. It invokes a definite King Crimson feel with the dissonance in the chord progressions and the chaotic ending sections (which sounds like something out of Thrak, actually). Claypool's bass on this track, and the atmospheric intro (which takes up about two minutes) is a perfect opener as well. If I would recommend one song by Primus to you, it would be this one.

Year of the Parrot has a great 7/4 main rhythm and some superb drumming from Tim Alexander and a nice rubbery bass pattern from Claypool as well as some cool lyrics and vocals, the lyrics talk about ripping of riffs from Led Zeppelin, but they call it plagiarism. De Anza Jig (a reference to the high school Claypool attended, De Anza High School) is a bit of a country piece with a nice banjo line from both LeLonde and Claypool as well as a desolate atmosphere of being in the wild west, truly fantastic piece if you ask me. Over the Electric Grapevine is another one of the longer pieces on the album (along with Professor Nutbutter's House of Treats and Southbound Pachyderm), this one running a little over 6 minutes. It shows more experimental overtones from the group yet the core of the song is relatively unchanged. The bass on this track is superb when coupled with the zany guitar mayhem and the superb and precision drumming (Alexander really seems to hold the band together during the really zany and hectic sections). The rest of the tracks are very good as well, yet these pieces I just described are the best the album has to offer. The only song that is a bit of a letdown is the ending Captain Shiner, which doesn't really do anything except add to the overall length of the album.

In the end, I think if you're going to get any Primus album, I'd recommend this along with Frizzle Fry and Sailing the Seas of Cheese. This album is Primus at their zaniest, Primus at their most original, and most importantly, Primus at arguably their career peak. They haven't made an album since that has surpassed the quality and creativity that can be found in this one, and I can see why, this album is just fantastic from first second to last. That said, there are a few tracks that are a bit of a let down (like Captain Shiner), the most notable being Space Farm. Other than that, though, you can't go wrong with this one. 4.5/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 4/5 |

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