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PRIMUS

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Primus biography
PRIMUS is the creation of LES CLAYPOOL. PRIMUS is almost impossible to classify into a genre, considering Les' influences and their deep manic style of playing. LES CLAYPOOL is a huge fan of RUSH, and influenced by the likes of PETER GABRIEL and THE RESIDENTS. Les is an extremely inventive and influential bass player, very influenced by STANLEY CLARKE, CHRIS SQUIRE, and GEDDY LEE. In 1986 Les created a band called Primate featuring him, Todd Huth and Jay Lane. Playing an incredibly funky artsy rock, Primate's songs told quirky stories set to extended instrumental improvisations and switching time signatures, similar to that of FRANK ZAPPA. Soon changing their name to PRIMUS, Huth and Lane were later replaced by LARRY LALONDE, guitarist of death metal band Possessed and drummer TIM "HERB" ALEXANDER. Becoming even more complex and creating a well-known art-funk style, PRIMUS soon sold many records despite their oddity prog style. Their musical interplay was very much admired, and soon became legendary on the rock circuit for songs like "Jerry Was A Racecar Driver" and "My Name Is Mud". PRIMUS is also known for being a silly RUSH, due to them being a power trio with a bass player singing. LES' songs are usually messages hidden in stories, or flat-out anecdotes from the past set to art-funk. Around 1997, TIM ALEXANDER decided to leave the band for other projects, and Les picked up drummer BRIAN MANTIA, BUCKETHEAD drummer and old friend. After the successful "Antipop" album, TIM ALEXANDER joined the band for the new 2003 album "Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People", being a DVD collection with 5 new songs, PRIMUS at their proggiest, their new direction is even more spaced-out and jammy, something like a heavy PHISH.

Their most known albums would be "Sailing the Seas of Cheese" and "Pork Soda", both of them proggy funk tour de forces.



Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
Uncategorizable prog band with a signature sound, heavily prog-influenced and they show it in their playing. A truly unique art rock unit.

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PRIMUS shows & tickets


  • Primus & The Chocolate Factory With The Fungi Ensemble on 8 Apr 2015
  • Primus & The Chocolate Factory With The Fungi Ensemble on 10 Apr 2015
  • Primus & The Chocolate Factory With The Fungi Ensemble on 11 Apr 2015
  • Primus & The Chocolate Factory With The Fungi Ensemble on 12 Apr 2015
  • Primus & The Chocolate Factory With The Fungi Ensemble on 14 Apr 2015
  • Primus & The Chocolate Factory With The Fungi Ensemble on 15 Apr 2015
  • Primus & The Chocolate Factory With The Fungi Ensemble on 17 Apr 2015
  • SweetWater 420 Festival on 17 Apr 2015
  • Primus & The Chocolate Factory With The Fungi Ensemble on 20 Apr 2015
  • Primus & The Chocolate Factory With The Fungi Ensemble on 21 Apr 2015
  • Primus & The Chocolate Factory With The Fungi Ensemble on 24 Apr 2015
  • Primus & The Chocolate Factory With The Fungi Ensemble on 25 Apr 2015
  • Primus & The Chocolate Factory With The Fungi Ensemble on 27 Apr 2015
  • Primus & The Chocolate Factory With The Fungi Ensemble on 28 Apr 2015
  • Primus & The Chocolate Factory With The Fungi Ensemble on 30 Apr 2015
  • Primus & The Chocolate Factory With The Fungi Ensemble on 1 May 2015
  • Primus & The Chocolate Factory With The Fungi Ensemble on 2 May 2015
  • Primus & The Chocolate Factory With The Fungi Ensemble on 3 May 2015
  • Primus & The Chocolate Factory With The Fungi Ensemble on 5 May 2015
  • Primus & The Chocolate Factory With The Fungi Ensemble on 6 May 2015
  • Primus & The Chocolate Factory With The Fungi Ensemble on 7 May 2015

PRIMUS discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

PRIMUS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.97 | 97 ratings
Frizzle Fry
1990
3.96 | 123 ratings
Sailing the Seas of Cheese
1991
3.25 | 81 ratings
Pork Soda
1993
3.83 | 69 ratings
Tales From the Punchbowl
1995
3.13 | 49 ratings
The Brown Album
1997
3.50 | 63 ratings
Antipop
1999
3.77 | 41 ratings
Green Naugahyde
2011
2.92 | 6 ratings
Primus & the Chocolate Factory
2014

PRIMUS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.43 | 34 ratings
Suck on This
1989
0.00 | 0 ratings
Live Frogs Set 1
2001

PRIMUS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.30 | 19 ratings
Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People
2003
4.04 | 15 ratings
Hallucino-Genetics: Live 2004
2004
4.73 | 6 ratings
Blame It On The Fish
2006

PRIMUS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.50 | 9 ratings
They Can't All Be Zingers
2006

PRIMUS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Jerry Was A Race Car Driver
1991
0.00 | 0 ratings
Here Come The Bastards / American Life
1991
0.00 | 0 ratings
My Name Is Mud
1992
0.00 | 0 ratings
My Name Is Mud (Promo CD)
1992
0.00 | 0 ratings
Making Plans For Nigel
1992
0.00 | 0 ratings
Making Plans For Nigel (Cheesy EP 1)
1992
0.00 | 0 ratings
Making Plans For Nigel (Cheesy EP 2)
1992
2.39 | 18 ratings
Miscellaneous Debris
1992
3.19 | 30 ratings
Rhinoplasty
1998
3.66 | 20 ratings
Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People
2003
3.04 | 7 ratings
June 2010 Rehearsal
2010

PRIMUS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Primus & the Chocolate Factory by PRIMUS album cover Studio Album, 2014
2.92 | 6 ratings

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Primus & the Chocolate Factory
Primus Prog Related

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars On paper it looks like an off-color punchline: the art-thrashers of Primus, playing songs from the movie "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory"...specifically the 1971 version, not the anemic CGI reboot directed by Tim Burton, described by Primus frontman Les Claypool as a "horrendous, horrible remake that left the taste of feces in our mouths".

But maybe the idea isn't so farfetched. There was always an element of childlike enthusiasm in Claypool's bass playing, matched to a not incompatible streak of adult subversion in Roald Dahl's original 1964 story. Claypool and company merely exposed the hidden underbelly of songs like "Candy Man", using sinister vocals and ominous marimbas (and yes: marimbas can be ominous).

The album is dedicated "to the wondrous talent of Gene Wilder" (and not Johnny Depp, please note), suggesting an attitude of humble tribute rather than satire. And the music itself was described by Claypool in a Rolling Stone interview as "early Peter Gabriel meets Dark Side of the Moon meets The Residents", with emphasis clearly on the latter influence. The anonymous avant- rock weirdos have inspired more than one Primus detour. And, like too many Residential efforts, this one also foregrounds the album's concept over its actual composition.

But it's a heck of a concept, even extending to the clever promotional gag of including 'golden tickets' in five vinyl copies of the album, entitling the lucky recipients to free Primus concerts for life. As Veruca Salt might have said, "I want it now!"...although doubtless without the same adenoidal growl used by Claypool, in his minor-key Arabian remix of the Leslie Bricusse / Anthony Newley song of the same name heard here.

Unfortunately, even with a showroom full of Lickable Wallpaper, Fizzy Lifting Drinks, and Everlasting Gobstoppers there isn't much substance to really sink your teeth into. Six of the fourteen tracks - almost half the album - stop well short of the two-minute mark, with the four- second (!) "Lermaninoff" ending before it actually begins. And the familiar "Oompa-Loompa" theme is played four times, just like in the movie, but in the same, more-or-less straightforward reading for each repetition.

The album might be almost too respectful of its source, never unleashing the full-funk beast of Claypool's bass guitar virtuosity. His awesome chops continue to elevate the instrument above its usual role as mere rhythmic support. But he spends more time bowing rather than slapping his bass strings here, careful not to disturb the quasi-classical arrangements of each updated song.

The "Pure Imagination" extolled by Willie Wonka, and typically the creative bread-and-butter to even a bass guitar-toting rebel like Les Claypool, is what's missing here. Maybe it comes alive in concert, but on disc the music remains little more than a curious and amusing novelty.

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 Antipop by PRIMUS album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.50 | 63 ratings

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Antipop
Primus Prog Related

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I don't think this deserves such a low rating. Maybe it's a little different from Primus' other releases because the rough edges have been mostly removed on this album that were very apparent on all of their other releases. The production seems to be a little higher quality and this smooth's out Les' vocals and also the instrumentals. I really believe that is what is missing here and that is what everyone is having a hard time with this album. However, the playing and the song structure is still top notch. The reviewers here keep saying that they don't know what is missing, but for my ears, I know its the rough edges that are missing. Still, I don't think that should merit a rating below 4. Previously, the overall rating was lower, now with time, it is slowly climbing closer to where it should be. To me, the smoother side of Primus (even though were talking smoother in relativity to their previous albums, new listeners will listen to this and say "Smooth?....WTF?") is still worth a listen. Other than the fact that the sound is missing the rough edges, this is still enjoyable....the funkiness, the crazy bass and guitar hooks, they are still there. And then there is still that feeling that Les Claypool is like a demented uncle that wants to sit you on his lap, tell you a story to make you laugh and feel a little uneasy, and then think "How the hell did I end up on this mad man's lap?" 4 stars is a fair rating in my mind.

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 Sailing the Seas of Cheese by PRIMUS album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.96 | 123 ratings

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Primus Prog Related

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Primus' Sailing the Seas of Cheese showcases the funky bass and eccentric, off the wall vocals of Les Claypool. Combine this with the band's general love of experimentation and yuou end up with a credible contribution to avant-garde alt-metal. The schtick doesn't quite last the full running time of the album - it isn't quite as varied as, say, Mr Bungle's material, and whilst the band regularly aim for a funky, hypnotic groove sometimes it falls flat and they just sound dull and repetitive. But these are occasional stumbles on an otherwise entertaining album which manages to walk the careful tightrope of introducing a general audience to Primus' unique sound without compromising that sound in the process.

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 Pork Soda by PRIMUS album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.25 | 81 ratings

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Review by Knapitatet

4 stars Primus has been one of my favorite bands ever since i first heard them as a wee 10 year old kid, back in 1999. Over the years, the band and its frontman/bass virtuoso Les Claypool have experimented with lots of different sounds and styles, some of wich i've enjoyed and others that i have had a harder time appreciating. In my opinion "Frizzle Fry" is their great Hard Rock album, "Sailing The Seas Of Cheese" their great Prog album and "Pork Soda" their great Primus album wich is not necessarily just a good thing.

One thing that always irks me whenever i listen to Pork Soda is that its TOO experimental. Primus main sound is groovy Hard Rock with highly virtuosic bass and drums right? Well the first song we are treated to "My Name Is Mud" is just that. Tim Alexander plays a steady marching beat while Les slaps out a bass line so low and dark that it borders on infrasound. It rules. After that comes "Welcome To This World" and "Bob" wich are boring in my opinion. They suffer from bad guitar work and rather boring bass lines also. Things pick up again in DMV wich is a straight forward rocker about the evils of transport agency bureaucracy (as someone who is currently going through my driving lessons i can only say that i feel your pain, Les) The next two songs are great (special mention goes to the Raga Rock inspired "ol Diamondback Sturgeon".) But then we get to the percussion solo called "Wounded Knee". It basically serves no purpose and screws up the pace of the album for me. Things truck on in about the same manner for the rest of the album until we get to the conclusion, the 8 minute "Hamburger Train". This is one of the least accessible song Primus has ever done, or rather it is a test of endurance. Its straight 4/4 while Les plays a VERY repetetive bass line and Larry Lalonde makes noises that sometimes can be indentified as coming from an electric guitar. In conclusion though, this album gets 4 stars from me. It is without a doubt the least accessible album Primus has ever done but lately i have begun thinking it is great. I am generally against forcing yourself to like an album (there is a big difference between doing that and having it grown on you) but this one really needed hundreds of listens over several years for me to realize how good it really is. If you are new to Primus, then start with "Sailing The Seas Of Cheese" and work your way to this and see if you fall for it too.

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 Frizzle Fry by PRIMUS album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.97 | 97 ratings

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Frizzle Fry
Primus Prog Related

Review by Sagichim
Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

5 stars This is the introduction to the world of Primus. Listed under many genres Primus managed to find a way to slip into the archives as well. I think prog related is a fine spot for them since this album or band would appeal to a lot of prog fans, since they feature a high standard of musicianship and such a cool mixture of syles, incorporating a lot of awesome off beat time signature interludes. There aren't so many bands that brought such a fresh, fierce in-your-face sound at their very begining, I was pretty blown away the first time I heard this back in 1992, and I'm still lovin' it 20 years later. The trio of Les Claypool, Larry Lalonde and Tim Alexander fits like a glove and seems so natural, reminding me of other trios like Rush. Maybe it's not a coincidence that they were so influenced by them and also decided to dedicate the first few seconds of the album to YYZ's intro, making us believe as if they were going to play it.

Except for Anti Pop released in 1999, this is their heaviest album. Claypool's bass is still very high in the mix and is the first thing you'll notice at first listen, but still Lalonde's guitars are fairly heavy and aggressive, something that will gradually reduce from this point on. Primus's style is so cool and fresh, mixing hard rocking and quirky almost funky riffs with a lot of groove and humor, but always with high standard and professional playing. But still Primus are and always will be an acquired taste. I would rank this as their best album along with 'Tales From The Punchbowl'. What makes this an excellent album is the sheer energy bursting out of these young dudes expressed in every single song. Claypool's bass is pounding away like there is no tomorrow while Lalonde's guitars are tasty but stil hard rocking as hell, featuring some excellent solos, noises and everything in between. As legendary those two are I think Tim Alexander is really stealing the show here. Enjoying an excellent drum sound (especially the toms) Alexander is totally original and has a very groovy style but still can be very fierce.

The album's material is fantastic, there are no fillers or weak songs but if I'll have to name a few highlights I would pick 'Groundhog's Day' with it's slow groovy main theme which later breaks into a fast ride ending with a heavy bang. 'Mr. Knowitall' could be my all time favorite and the most progy song by the band, gradually moving from one riff to the other circulating around the main riff with superb guitars and excellent drumming, if this is not good than I don't know what is. 'Frizzle Fry' (the song) again begins slowly and breaks into fast heavy madness, reminds me a lot of The Necromancer's rocking middle section by Rush. 'Spegetti Western' and 'Harold on the Rocks' the two closing tracks include some stellar performance by all three.

Primus's music could sound a bit straight forward but it is really not. Repeated listenings will surely reveal their progy influences and their masterful playing. This is actually an easy 5 stars for me, aside from the excellent writing and playing what makes it a 5 star album is the fact that Primus brought something new, fresh and exciting to the upcoming alternative scene in the end of the 80's and early 90's, something that doesn't sound quite like it.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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 Pork Soda by PRIMUS album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.25 | 81 ratings

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Pork Soda
Primus Prog Related

Review by Sagichim
Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

4 stars Music from quirky land.

Pork Soda is the third album by Primus following two very good albums. The album came out in one of the greatest periods in rock music, when new bands were emerging like rain drops and older bands were releasing their best material, Primus were no different and were at their most creative period. I bought this after two years of its release after I was mind blown by Frizzle Fry, and I must say I always liked it blindly, but placing it in the right perspective I can say the album is not as good as its two predecessors. Said that, the album does contain some of the band's best and most original songs, it's a mix between great songs and ok songs. The album sounds pretty different than anything before and marks yet another step towards Les Claypool dominating the band's sound. It's not rocky or aggressive as the debut and it's much weirder than Sailing The Seas Of Cheese. The album has a dark mood and a muddy sound, and if the playing is not too weird for you, you got Les Claypool's most wacky and schizoid vocals ever, I really love that guy's singing, he is very diverse and seems to be suffering from a split personality since every song has a different vocal approach. The album continues to introduce us to Claypool's wide cast of imaginary characters like Mud, Bob, Mr. Krinkle, the sturgeon and a lot of other names, which is always funny and cool.

One thing is certain when discussing a Primus album, the playing is fantastic. One of the things that makes this band prog related is the intricate complex and imaginative playing of the trio. Claypool's playing is phenomenal and all over the place, unleashing all kinds of bass techniques which demonstrates just what a great and fertile bass player he really is, just check out 'Ol' Diamondback Sturgeon', 'My Name Is Mud' and 'Mr. Krinkle' to get the picture. Tim Alexander's drumming is a little calmer than before, he is more eclectic but that's because of the material itslef. He is very imaginative and diverse, definitely one of my favorite drummers ever. Guitarist Larry Lalonde has a very muddy sound and he is more quirky and crooked than ever, playing some odd lines and overall he is pretty strange. He doesn't play any rocky riffs, that's just not his style and it fits the music perfectly, a lot of great solos, noises and everything that's in between.

Pork Soda is rated surprisingly low, I loved it from the first spin but maybe it would take a while to get into since it is quite strange. If you're already familiar with Primus this album will not dissapoint you as it contains everything that makes them so appreciated. Amazing performance, original material and their great combination of humoristic tales and goofiness with serious, high standard music.

Is it progressive or not? Some reviewers would say no it's not and some would say yes. The album and the band's style is not progressive per se, they have regular songs aside with more progressive tunes, but almost every album as a whole is very diverse and contains all kinds of interludes. Above all the arrangements are definitely not straight forward and the playing is too good and unique to dismiss. I wouldn't recommend it as a starting point to the band, but it's a very good addition to your Primus collection. 4 stars.

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 Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People by PRIMUS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2003
3.66 | 20 ratings

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Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People
Primus Prog Related

Review by Sagichim
Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

4 stars I was very excited to hear in 2003 that one of my favorite bands is reuniting and with it's original line up too, which I consider as their best. Tim Alexander was back after 8 years of not recording with the band, things were looking good and I thought an album is on it's way, so I waited and waited but it never happened. Aside from Green Naugahyde which came out last year this EP is the only recording by Primus since 1999, along with this came out their first DVD which carries the same title name.

The music on this EP is quite different than anything we have heard by the band, it is still Primus with their distinct style and sound but it is more psychedelic and less quirky than before. Everybody is in great shape and the playing is like I expected it to be, amazing! though this is not the best Primus material ever it is still good and worth checking out if you are already a fan. This EP contains 5 songs, everyone of them featuring Les Claypool's imaginative and stellar bass work in addition to his totally weird singing and tone, I love this dude. Larry Lalonde is as quirky as always fitting to the music like a glove, he manages to be interesting and delivers some cool passages and all kinds of runs and solos, never standing in the way of the mighty bass. Tim Alexander is more eclectic than before but it's not his best work with the band.

'The Carpenter and the Dainty Bride' starts out very good with one of the coolest bass riffs played by Claypool, it then continues on and sounds like something out of Pork Soda with it's weird guitar line. If you missed Lalonde's psychedelic solos a la Frizzled Fry, you can have another taste here with a great trippy solo, very good song overall with fantastic bass throughout. 'Pilcher's Squad' is a 2 minute song which at first I thought was just a throw away but after a few listens I began to like it more with it's fast and weird rhythm, I especially like the part when Les is going "Go Ler" and Lalonde transform himslef into Fripp just to nail you with a 5 seconds of dissonant heaven run, followed by "Thanks Ler..." it always cracks me up. 'Mary the Ice Cube' was the band's official website opening tune, with that cute bass line. Cool song with silly lyrics about an ice cube gone to oblivion. 'The Last Superpower aka Rapscallion' holds another groovy bass riff and goes to a different direction half way through which takes the song to a more progy psychy realm. 'My Friend Fats' has a steady beat led by Alexander, he is really good here although he keeps the beat pretty straight forward, excellent performance by the two other members, as they keep the psychedelic playing going on, Lalonde is fantastic reminding me a lot of Fripp with his dissonant and unusual solos also goes for Claypool which is a master no doubt about it.

I wouldn't say this is the best place to start with but it's definitely worth checking out, this EP was followed with an 8 years of silence by the band as they all went for other projects, I'm glad they are back now and hope they are here to stay a little longer.

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 Green Naugahyde by PRIMUS album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.77 | 41 ratings

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Green Naugahyde
Primus Prog Related

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Les Claypool, the Jaco Pastorius of the Lollapalooza crowd, returns after a long hiatus with another unique collection of highly caffeinated funk rock. It's been twelve years since the last Primus studio album, but Claypool and company pick up right about where they left off, as always sounding not unlike delinquent cousins to RUSH, one of their obvious role models, and stage mates in tours gone by.

Stylistically the album rings true to the Primus tradition. Songs with titles like "Eyes of a Squirrel" and "Jilly's On Smack" could only have come from one band, while "Moron TV" and "Eternal Consumption Engine" sound like ideas left behind by THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION...which makes sense, coming from a trio sounding like Zappa on steroids.

And where else would you hear a tune inspired by spaghetti-western star Lee Van Cleef? ("There's only one Clint", sings Claypool, but "you know I like to see ol' Lee...") A quick digression: apparently Mr. Claypool's taste in film is no less eclectic than his songwriting skills. Among his favorites are movies directed by Stanley Kubrick, Frank Capra, Elia Kazan, Sam Raimi, and Paul Thomas Anderson.

Primus fans will know to expect a lot of narrative non-sequiturs, inside jokes, and virtuoso bass guitar gymnastics (of course). These days Claypool seems to favor a peculiar liquid bass sound (heard best in "Hennepin Crawler", and "Tragedy's a-Comin'"), which makes a good fit alongside the busy precision of returning drummer Jay Lane, who Claypool credits with reinvigorating the dormant band.

My only gripe, and not for the first time with this band, is that the vocals are too low in the mix. Les Claypool's lyrics are typically the most amusing aspect of any Primus album, but his adenoidal drawl can be hard to fathom without a lyric sheet (included, fortunately).

And the music itself is often not as fully realized as on earlier Primus efforts, often resembling experimental jams with added vocals, rather than traditional rock songs (that's a backhanded compliment, by the way). A grumpier listener might accuse the band of falling into a rut; I prefer to regard the new album as a reassertion of their unorthodox musical credentials after being off the grid too long (in pop culture terms: like, forever).

Either way, it's good to have them back, and in fine form, too. Let's hope another twelve years don't pass before their next album.

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 Tales From the Punchbowl by PRIMUS album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.83 | 69 ratings

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Tales From the Punchbowl
Primus Prog Related

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Les Claypool is an American original. His bass guitar should be carved on the face of Mount Rushmore, maybe replacing the dainty pince-nez of that old Imperialist Teddy Roosevelt. And his band Primus likewise deserves to be recognized as a National Treasure, especially during a sillier-than-usual election season. Perhaps the GOP can adopt the song "Southbound Pachyderm" for their national presidential convention in Tampa this summer.

Political kidding aside, the band's 1995 album is vintage Primus. There aren't too many bands able to perform songs with titles like "Professor Nutbutter's House of Treats" and still be considered credible musicians. On the other hand, how did such an irreverent group of dedicated misfits earn a page on a web site devoted to the high-minded aspirations of Progressive Rock?

Claypool likes to present his songs as if they were carnival side-show attractions, full of geeks, freaks, and blabbermouth barkers. But there's nothing funny about the invigorating industrial funk of "Mrs. Blaileen" or the aforementioned "Professor Nutbutter" (except of course for the deadpan perversity of the lyrics). Listen to guitarist Larry LaLonde's Fripp-like runs in "Year of the Parrot" and "On the Tweek Again", or to the Lark's Tongues intensity of the rising chords in "Over the Electric Grapevine", and then ask yourself if this isn't a trio of closet Progheads in Alt Rock drag.

The tasty "Glass Sandwich" offers a clue to what THE RESIDENTS might have sounded like with virtuoso chops. And the expected white-trash stomp is represented by the "De Anza Jig": a banjo-driven parody of suburban backwoods Americana (the song is named after Claypool's Richmond, California, high school), and referencing both the Jack-In-The- Box and Taco Bell junk food franchises.

And then of course there's "Wynona's Big Brown Beaver", arguably the most irresistible song in the Progarchives database about a girl's troubled relationship with her (pet?) beaver. Actress Winona Ryder reportedly took offense at what she considered some barbed double-entendres, which to me sounds like a case of Tinsel Town paranoia. The song might be a Marin County outlaw taking random potshots at a local Petaluma celebrity, but it's hard to see any real connection: after all, the lyrics make no mention of shoplifting arrests or an iffy big screen résumé (there is, however, another nod to Taco Bell...)

Judge for yourself. And then by all means listen to the rest of the album too. It may not resemble anything like traditional Prog Rock, but the undeniable skill, invention, and even the iconoclastic low-brow humor locates the Primus trio in a class all their own.

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 Suck on This by PRIMUS album cover Live, 1989
3.43 | 34 ratings

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Suck on This
Primus Prog Related

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

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.

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