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Primus Suck on This album cover
3.51 | 52 ratings | 6 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
rock music collection

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Live, released in 1989

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. John the Fisherman (3:53)
2. Groundhog's Day (4:53)
3. The Heckler (3:35)
4. Pressman (5:00)
5. Jellikit (3:59)
6. Tommy the Cat (5:26)
7. Pudding Time (4:20)
8. Harold of the Rocks (6:17)
9. Frizzle Fry (5:45)

Line-up / Musicians

Tim "Herb" Alexander / drums
Les Claypool / bass, vocals
Larry LaLonde / guitar

Releases information

Remastered by Prawn Song in 2002

Thanks to Retrovertigo for the addition
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PRIMUS Suck on This ratings distribution

(52 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

PRIMUS Suck on This reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I don't know if this album has much more progressive elements than the quotation of the beginning of "Yyz" by RUSH, but there's a nice drum and bass rhythm groove going on this one from the beginning to the end! It's interesting to listen trio bands doing live performings, as they all have to work 100% intensively to make up constant interesting noise. I would recommend this to bassists, but not for conservative proggers.
Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Not everyone will find enjoyment with this group. I say that as a warning to anyone who reads this review. Primus is not a group that is easy to digest, with their heavily bass oriented approach and their highly unorthodox sound in comparison with everything else that was out at the time. This album, their first album, was recorded at two shows the group did in the Berkeley Square in Berkeley, California (where the band found its home). What you'll find here are early live versions of songs that would appear on later albums (except for Jellikit and The Heckler), slightly reshaped and redesigned, but nonetheless they remain foundation-wise unchanged. The musicianship on this album ranges from floaty guitar leads over meaty bass grooves and chord based metal songs that really make you jump. Regardless, though, this album is a bit hard to digest at first if you are a first time listener, because Primus's sound is different than essentially any other group I've heard.

Opening with the 10/8 intro to Rush's YYZ, the song quickly turns into John the Fisherman, the single from the future album Frizzle Fry. It's not a really progressive song in the least bit, but the bass performance (as you'll find with many Primus songs) is out of this world. I like LeLonde's guitar on this song, with it's Fripp-esque fringes and fills during the verses. Groundhog's Day has a groovy mellow bassline from Claypool and some floaty guitar fills and leads from LeLonde. The song, though, is better represented on Frizzle Fry, but this early version still is pretty nice. The Heckler is one of two songs that can be found on this album, and it's probably one of the weakest, too. It's pretty forgettable, and it has some bland guitar and bass interplay. Pressman is the only song from this collection to be on 1993's Pork Soda. The droning bass notes during the verses breaks into a chord nightmare during the "choruses" and it remains relatively the same throughout the entire song, with no real progression at all. Jellikit is essentially Primus's version of Moby Dick, only shorter, and with vocals. A heavy guitar bass unison riff breaks way into a short little drum solo from Alexander, but in the short (maybe a minute) of soloing, Alexander essentially plays his entire kit in a well coordinated and superb sounding fill after fill bonanza.

Tommy the Cat will go down in history as one of Claypool's most difficult songs to play on bass, and this version of it (the studio version would appear on Sailing the Seas of Cheese two years later) is no exception to that. Although the studio version is better because of Tommy the Cat's vocals by Tom Waits, Claypool tries his best to sing this song while playing the terribly tricky riff. Add a fantastic bass solo from Claypool and you have yourself Tommy the Cat. Pudding Time would find itself on the latter end of Frizzle Fry, and it's a fairly generic affair with a simple bass line and guitar progression, but the drumming is very good here, to say the least. Another one of my least favorites on this album (Frizzle Fry's version is better to me). Harold of the Rocks has some great guitar in it from LeLonde as well as an interesting drum performance from Alexander. This is probably the best song on this album guitar wise as it really shows the creativity and the skill in LeLonde. Frizzle Fry ends the album, and you can derive that it wound up on the album of the same name. It's one of the more progressive songs in the Primus catalogue in my opinion, with some top notch performances from all members. The outro bass from Claypool has this forboding feeling that I really can't get enough of. It ends the album well.

Overall, Primus's debut album is a nice showcase of songs that would find their way onto future albums as well as the creativity and the originality that the band possessed. Although there are many strengths, there are also some weaknesses that go along with it. Claypool's voice isn't terribly great, although he gives his best on every song, and some of the songs sound "samey" in that they have a similar sound and idea around the music. Other than that, it's a pretty interesting set that is a good album, but not essential in everyone's collection. Fans of manic bass guitar will find something to love with this album (and pretty much every other Primus album at that). 3.5/5.

Review by Tom Ozric
4 stars The music of PRIMUS is a highly original blend of Metal/Funk and Alternative Rock with *killer* chops. These 3 musicians definately know their stuff. 'Suck On This' was the first release to hit the shelves back in 1990 and, unusually, it was a live recording put together from 2 seperate performances at the Berkeley Square early in 1989. Opening the album is the Indie Hit 'John The Fisherman', with the intro to the song being the opening bars of 'YYZ', a phenomenal track by RUSH. The sound is aggressive, the playing so tight you fear they may implode - possibly due to the crisp production and Drummer Tim Alexander's impressive percussive display. His double-pedal work throughout the album is insane !!! The song 'Jellikit' (pronounced as 'J'ya Like it ?') features a furious Drum-solo. Now, the Bass player - Les Claypool. He kind of sounds like Stanley Clarke on meth. Claypool was born to play the Bass, he is absolutely incredible on those 4 strings. The song 'Tommy The Cat' features a brief Bass-solo, and it's jaw-droppingly astonishing. He also handles the vocals - in a very amusing and comical way (Deputy Dawg, anyone ??), adding to the whimsy of the (often) jagged compositions. Guitarist Larry Lalonde is, too, a great player, his screeching, over-the-top abrasive sounds may recall Adrian Belew's atonal 6-string abuse (ironically, when I saw the band live in the mid-90's they did a rendition of 'Thela Hun Ginjeet' by KING CRIMSON) but these feed-back drenched sounds are the icing on the cake, really. Generally, Primus play music which compliments an obscure little niche of Progressive-Rock, and, whilst certain traits of the band may turn people away, I speak for those who love heavy, technically accomplished aural entertainment, with a good dose of humour. 4 stars - the best was still yet to come !
Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Suck on This is the first release from funky art rockers ( for lack of a better name) Primus. Suck on This is a live recording mainly with songs which would be on their debut album Frizzle Fry but some would re-surface on later albums too. The only song that only appears on this album is Jellikit. The album was released in 1989.

I had a couple of friends back in high school, whom I also played in a band with ( a drummer and a bassist), who was dedicated fans of Primus and of course they always put it on when we drank and smoked our teenage brains to oblivion so I´ve listened to my share of Primus back in the day. I remember that Pork Soda was the new album at the time. Suck on This was my drummer friend´s favorite album and Tim Herb Alexander was his favorite drummer.

My relationship with Primus was always a bit strained. I can hear that what they are doing is incredible ( Especially Drums and bass) but I never really liked their general style much. So it was always enjoying the technical finesse more than enjoying the actual songs for me. The music is very influenced by eighties King Crimson ( The dissonant guitars) and Rush ( Without the overblown keyboards and mostly due to the prominant bass). There are lots of funky rythms, slapbass and heavy metal tendencies to complete the sound though. Les Claypool ( Bass, Vocals) has a similar voice to that of Adrian Belew which means that he speaks more than he actually sings. Some fans of Adrian Belew era King Crimson should be able to find great enjoyment in Primus. The general mood in the music is humoruos and titles like John the Fishman, Tommy the Cat and Harold of the Rocks tells their own tale.

It´s noteworthy to us prog heads that the concert starts with the first minute of Yyz by Rush played very impressively indeed. The rest of the album is extremely tight and well played but the compositions don´t stand out much from each other. Tommy the Cat and Frizzle Fry are the only standouts for me, the rest is more or less the same. Talking/ singing over a muted bassline ( sometimes tapped) and the chorus is almost always a loud funky slapbass dominated part with dissonant guitar. The structure in the songs is very ordinary which means vers/ chorus radio friendly. The music is not that radio friendly though and it´s kind of weird that Primus sold as many albums as they did in the nineties.

The musicianship is excellent on this release. Primus was a great live band. There is a good spirit in their show and both band and audience seem to have fun. Les Claypool´s virtuosic bass playing is always a great feature in Primus music but I have to agree with my old buddy that Tim Alexander´s drum playing is world class. I´m not that fond of Larry LaLonde´s ( Ex- Possessed) noisy and dissonant guitar style and never have been. With another guitar style I ´m sure I would have enjoyed Primus more.

The production is excellent. One of the better live sounds I have heard. The drums have such a powerful sound.

Suck on This is a good album and I wouldn´t dream of giving it below 3 stars even though this is not really my cup of tea. A 4 star rating would be too much from me though so I think a 3 star rating is deserved. I hope that my above description of Primus music made sense and that their music will reach the right audience. To put Primus in the prog-related catagory is by the way exactly right.

Review by Neu!mann
3 stars It's hard to believe the popular turbo-funk trio of Primus had such a humble beginning, scraping together enough borrowed cash (from bass player / band leader Les Claypool's father) to pay for this live album, recorded in Berkeley, California, in early 1989.

For anyone not familiar with the wonderful, wacky world of Primus, try to imagine (and the best of luck) a misbegotten stepchild of THE RESIDENTS and RUSH. The concert even begins with a note-perfect crib of the agitated opening to the Rush instrumental 'YYZ', in retrospect an immediate validation of the band's performance skills, but on first exposure making me wonder if I had the right CD. And Claypool's debt to the Residents, which goes beyond his adenoidal twang and deadpan esoteric humor, would later be acknowledged by a cover of the tunes 'Hello Skinny' and 'Constantinople' on the reissue of the trio's first studio album, recorded soon after this gig and featuring many of the same songs.

Claypool's hyperactive handling of his bass guitar hadn't yet reached the heights of nimble virtuosity he would later be renowned for (the band was only three months old at the time). But the set introduced several early Primus standards, including 'John the Fisherman', 'Harold of the Rocks', and the impressive motor-mouth narrative of 'Tommy the Cat'. A quick digression: how the hell does Claypool manage to speak even halfway coherently while slapping his bass with such pinpoint enthusiasm?

And his stage presence is already disarmingly offbeat. "We're Primus; we suck!" he cheerfully announces at one point. Elsewhere he invites the audience to harass guitarist Larry LaLonde, and they happily comply ("Larry, you're a bastard!")

The album was barely produced at all, and the take-it-or-leave-it sound is the antithesis of Progressive Rock's over-reliance on studio ornamentation and instrumental overkill. In point of fact the entire attitude of the fledgling band is more Punk (or at least more Alt Rock) than Prog. Name me one GENESIS song-story in which the characters are casually dismissed as "a couple of dumb sh*ts"?

I would hesitate to even include Primus on a web site devoted to Progressive Rock...on the other hand I might never have heard them otherwise (so, thanks!) 'Suck On This' may not be the best introduction to the band, but their only live album (so far) remains an essential step for affirmed fans.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Simply one of the best live recordings I own. Every song simply blows away the studio version. The song "Jellikit" can only be found on this album, whereas all the other tracks can be found on later Primus albums, and most on Frizzle Fry. The only track that does not compare to the studio vers ... (read more)

Report this review (#42022) | Posted by Goblin11 | Monday, August 8, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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