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Primus The Brown Album album cover
3.25 | 103 ratings | 8 reviews | 11% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1997

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Return of Sathington Willoughby (5:04)
2. Fisticuffs (4:24)
3. Golden Boy (3:05)
4. Over the Falls (2:41)
5. Shake Hands With Beef (4:02)
6. Camelback Cinema (3:59)
7. Hats Off (1:57)
8. Puddin' Taine (3:37)
9. Bob's Party Time Lounge (4:43)
10. Duchess and the Proverbial Mind Spread (3:29)
11. Restin' Bones (4:29)
12. Coddingtown (2:52)
13. Kalamazoo (3:30)
14. The Chastising of Renegade (5:02)
15. Arnie (3:54)

Total time: (56:48)

Line-up / Musicians

- Les Claypool / vocals, basses
- Larry LaLonde / guitar
- Bryan "Brain" Mantia / drums

Releases information

CD Interscope Records ‎- INTD-90126 (1997, US)

2xLP Interscope Records ‎- INT2-90126 (1997, US)
2xLP Music On Vinyl ‎- MOVLP546 (2012, Netherlands)

Thanks to Retrovertigo for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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PRIMUS The Brown Album ratings distribution

(103 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(11%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(33%)
Good, but non-essential (42%)
Collectors/fans only (13%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

PRIMUS The Brown Album reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by GoldenSpiral
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This was the first Primus album I ever heard, and at that point I decided that I didn't much like Primus. It wasn't until several years and several Primus albums later that rediscovered the Brown Album and started to listen again. This is definitely not the album to check out if you are just being introduced to Primus, as it is not really representative of their overall work. Overall, the Brown Album leaves much to be desired when compared to other Primus records. Most songs are mediocre at best (though there are a few gems), the recording quality is intentionally muddy and distorted, and it sounds as if the drums were recorded through a distortion box. Brain's drumming style does not compare to Tim Alexander's (Primus' previous drummer on Frizzle Fry/Seas of Cheese). This is not to say the songs aren't interesting. Sathington Willoughby is a strange political rant, "Over the Falls" tells an interesting story, and "Restin' Bones" warns of the dangers of amphetamine use. The highlight of the album is "Chastising of the Renegade" which is more reminiscent of the Pork Soda days. There are really not filler tracks on the album, it just so happens that most of the songs are sub-par for Primus.
Review by Dick Heath
4 stars In contrast to the previous reviewer, this was the 6th Primus album I came too. And I had heard fans and critics running this down previously, as the worst. But as a fan of Claypool's bass and his ability to write anything from hard rock to vaudeville/musicalhall story songs, and that unusally CD cover, I bought the album when I saw it secondhand, (odd how many Primus albums can be picked up 2nd hand!). Immediately it became my favourite. It has a numbe rof distinguihsing studio tricks to offer. For instance this first thing your hear is the bass end of the recording kranked to almost to the point of distortion, giving an inyerface effect. The songs are typical of Primus's spread of rock, post rock, the vaudeville song stories, even sneaking in the jazz and folk. Les Claypool's ability to pick an unusual bass riff which stands repetition and minor change inarrnagement, and holds you through the tune. There are the typical Primus changes of tempo and musical type every tune - plus the occasional tease, e.g. 'Kalamazoo' suggesting it might become a cover of a 40's hit but doesn't go that way. True not a place to start with Primus but certain one of the better Primus albums for consistency, musical range and playing.

(Hey isn't this review so unlike the previous reviewer's but that's how Primus can affect folks).

3 going 4 stars.

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 01. The Return Of Sathington Willoughby Live? No! Of course not! Only the crazy guys! Almost a version for the Flash In The Pink Floyd (The Wall). The extremely complicated riffs of Les strangers are in the low, especially when accompanied by guitar Larry LaLonde of totally crazy. The vocal style of speech is great, if that is not a bright opening and I already know what it is!

02. Fisticuffs Timbre low serious and very strange. The voice comes full of whispers and doubled, full swing in spite of everything. Strange by nature, even more if pay total attention on the guitar, with its repetitive riff and ghostly.

03. Golden Boy Surprise is the name of the band and then we talk about the beginning, but that riff sensational, Les is a magician of Slap (Technique used in bass that is to 'beat' and 'pull' the strings of the instrument resulting in a sound percussivo). And the most interesting is that all parties are very well built vocal. A battery of Brain (?!?) also deserves mention here.

04. Over The Falls In this appears to a guitar, a melody is a bit more 'normal', while the riffs are well strangers. (How can they?) The tone of that Les strip down like a stick of low (acoustic bass), but full of distortion.

05. Shake Hands With Beef Full of groove, there is even a Vocalizations by many. There's even a vein jazzística from time to time. And some turned to hit around.

06. Camelback Cinema Hit starts flat and then, I remember one of those dirty 60's rock, but this is where the heavy guitar enter total distortion and gives the eyes of ears. One thing that appears on who left the mental hospital now (laughs).

07. Hats Off Holy introduction of guitar, just thought that the battery is very similar to the other, I do not know whether intentionally.

08. Puddin Tainá This here is completely retarded, with ska rhythm of the guitar, some low heavy lost along the way, and extremely vocal affected. A second guitar joins the game to do another tune affected, some vocals in the style 'uh huuuu', and completed the complete madness, full of melodies that interleave a different sound, as if nothing is happening. Difficult to distinguish what is what!

09. Bob's Party Time Lounge 'The sound of ice in a glass of whiskey, a rattlesnake preparing the boat, the lifeboat' (Do not resist, do not know if this verse does not know who it is, is something wrong). Low poisonous, with a deadly riff at the beginning. After the band continues with that thing comes up from the chord, and we let sounding singing a melody as beautiful and interesting, however, crazy!

10. Duchess And The proverbial Mind Spread Riff fantastic Les of the low, just animal, stuck in the vocal melody and riff. The voice of Les is strangely interesting! The guitars between voice and one in the present with beautiful passages soloists. And this time is the time to shine in your kit Brain beating on all parts and accessories that your battery charge.

11. Restin 'Bones Almost a Bullet The Blue Sky U2 this riff of the battery (should have more riffs of battery), while the accompanying low as it pleases so weird, the guitar? From time to time it appears in that area (laughter). I just think that the battery doing the same thing in the whole song (type robot), I only work with!

12. Coddingtown Nearly a Ramones of crazy, the bass sound is a legitimately out of the running game of the Super Nintendo, the sound is equal to the carts of the Top Gear (which I love), talking about it, for those who like that style of thing coming here you will enjoy at least those who play or played video game goes, valeu Kieu by link. VRUUUUUUMMMMMM!

13. Kalamazoo Low battery and perfectly married in this release as there was no case in any other time of the disk, a thousand and one guitar groove and strange (I know if there is even guitar). A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I .... (laughter)

14. Chastising Of The Renegade All out of time! Ah! From time to time not, almost a reggae. Several different voice at the end, almost like a conversation in which no one hears anything crazy (but listen!) And speak at the same time. Towards the end riff and a heavy and awful.

15. Arnie 'Go Ahead Fish, baby! I say more?

Simply no notion that disc, no notion of anything.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The Brown Album was called this because it was supposed to be Primus' version of The White Album by The Beatles or The Black Album by Metallica, it was going to be a milestone, according to Claypool. Later, when asked how the album was going to sound, Brian "Brain" Mantia, the new drummer that replaced Tim Alexander, said that it was named The Brown Album because the mixes sounded like a "muffled turd". I tend to believe the last explanation as this album was intentionally mixed to sound muddier, less bright. They succeeded in that endeavor. Unfortunately, the songs sound more forced and tired. The humor and the basic sound is still there, it just seems like the heart was not in this album.

Out of the Primus albums, this is probably my least favorite. Of course, there are some great tracks like "Shake Hands With Beef", "Duchess and the Proverbial Mind Spread", "Golden Boy" and such, but there are a lot more mediocre, flat sounding tracks that just don't have the spark and spunk of the previous Primus. This album is not the one to listen to if you are hearing Primus the first time, you are better off getting "Frizzle Fry", "Sailing the Seas of Cheese" or "Tales from the Punchbowl". Some of the tracks from The Brown Album will grow on you, but most of them lack the amount of life needed to grow anymore from the murky muck of this album. But it's okay, Les Claypool is still one of my heroes.

Latest members reviews

5 stars This is my favourite Primus right here, believe it or not. Sure, I will, no doubt, agree that Frizzle Fry and Sailing the Seas of Cheese are overall better, more original and unique records, yet I still can not contain my utter love for the Brown Album. On this record Primus goes raw and dirty, r ... (read more)

Report this review (#1588746) | Posted by Harold Needle | Tuesday, July 19, 2016 | Review Permanlink

4 stars To me i feel this album feels more solid throughout compared to other primus albums, each song sits comfortable next to each other there's a deffinet sence of more of a straight hard rock feel with the brown album maybe with the addition of brain on the drums being a part of it.Les's preformance ... (read more)

Report this review (#134674) | Posted by mrcozdude | Thursday, August 23, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars People put this album down a lot because of the songs and and stuffy recording, but personally i really like this album. Its one of my favorites next to Frizzle Fry. I think Les´s bass sounds awesome. Its stuffy and on the verge of distorted but now blown out. The track Restin Bones has one of my ... (read more)

Report this review (#127774) | Posted by fungusucantkill | Friday, July 6, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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