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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 :
Uncategorizable prog band with a signature sound, heavily prog-influenced and they show it in their playing. A truly unique art rock unit.

Primus official website

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Buy PRIMUS Music

The Desaturating SevenThe Desaturating Seven
ATO Records 2017
Audio CD$8.77
$4.99 (used)
Sailing The Seas Of CheeseSailing The Seas Of Cheese
Interscope 2013
$24.88 (used)
They Can't All Be Zingers: Best OfThey Can't All Be Zingers: Best Of
Interscope 2006
Audio CD$6.26
$7.34 (used)
Frizzle Fry (Remastered)Frizzle Fry (Remastered)
Remastered · Extra tracks
Prawn Song 2002
Audio CD$12.98
$8.34 (used)
Primus: The Desaturating Seven (Colored Vinyl) Vinyl LPPrimus: The Desaturating Seven (Colored Vinyl) Vinyl LP
ATO Records
Tales From The PunchbowlTales From The Punchbowl
Interscope 1995
Audio CD$5.97
$5.98 (used)
Anti PopAnti Pop
Interscope 1999
Audio CD$4.99
$3.46 (used)
Primus & The Chocolate Factory With The Fungi EnsemblePrimus & The Chocolate Factory With The Fungi Ensemble
ATO Records 2014
Audio CD$8.64
$6.76 (used)
Green NaugahydeGreen Naugahyde
ATO Records 2011
Audio CD$10.43
$6.04 (used)
Pork SodaPork Soda
Interscope 1993
Audio CD$4.45
$2.99 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
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Primus LES CLAYPOOL Holy Mackerel PROMO DJ CD single 1996 USA MINT INT5P 6046 USD $23.74 Buy It Now
Les Calypool PRIMUS 1991 Rare 3 TRX SAMPLER USA PROMO Radio DJ CD single MINT USD $9.99 [0 bids]
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11m 16s
Primus The Brown Album USD $99.00 [0 bids]
19m 7s
19m 57s
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28m 7s
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3h 21m
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4h 3m
Frizzle Fry by Primus (LTD. Pink Vinyl LP), 2015, Prawn Song) USD $55.00 Buy It Now 4h 40m
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Primus - Brown Album ORIGINAL 1997 double vinyl LP record album RARE OOP USD $51.00 [2 bids]
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Primus - Sailing The Seas Of Cheese 1991 (Cassette) Interscope Records 91659-4 USD $150.00 Buy It Now 12h 21m
Pork Soda by Primus (CD, Apr-1993, Interscope (USA)) USD $5.75 [0 bids]
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13h 4m
Primus & the Chocolate Factory With the Fungi Ense - Primus CD-JEWEL CASE USD $20.46 Buy It Now 13h 34m
PRIMUS Sailing The Seas Of Cheese 1991 Interscope CD Les Claypool Tom Waits USD $2.99 [0 bids]
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16h 33m
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Primus - Miscellaneous Debris [EP] (CD, Mar-1992, Interscope) Digipak USD $5.99 Buy It Now 17h 57m
The Brown Album by Primus (CD, Jul-1997, Interscope (USA)) USD $1.99 [0 bids]
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18h 10m
Antipop by Primus (CD, Oct-1999, Interscope (USA)) USD $3.99 [0 bids]
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18h 11m
Sailing the Seas of Cheese by Primus (CD) USD $1.99 [0 bids]
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18h 21m
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PRIMUS The Desaturating Seven CD SIGNED By Band, Les Claypool LaLonde Alexander USD $69.90 Buy It Now 20h 13m
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The Desaturating Seven by Primus - Digipak - Promo - CD - FREE SHIPPING USD $10.99 Buy It Now 20h 45m
The Desaturating Seven [9/29] * by Primus (Vinyl, Sep-2017, ATO (USA)) USD $32.99 Buy It Now 21h 12m
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Primus : Sailing the Seas of Cheese CD (1991) Interscope Records USD $4.20 Buy It Now 23h 56m
Tales from the Punchbowl by Primus (CD, Jun-1995, Interscope Records USD $6.30 Buy It Now 1 day
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1 day
SPIN Special Edition incl 2 CD's w/ LENNY KRAVITZ, PRIMUS, TOM MORELLO USD $8.73 Buy It Now 1 day
Primus & the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble [Digipak] by Primus (CD, USD $1.99 [1 bids]
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Primus - The Desaturating Seven 2017 CD New Release Les CLaypool USD $4.26 [2 bids]
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They Can't All Be Zingers: Best Of Primus - Primu (CD Used Very Good) Remastered USD $7.13 Buy It Now 1 day
They Can't All Be Zingers by Primus (CD, Oct-2006, Chronicles) USD $13.81 Buy It Now 1 day
Sailing the Seas of Cheese by Primus (CD, May-1991, Interscope (USA) USD $5.45 Buy It Now 1 day
Headliners II (CD) Rock Mix! Def Leppard, Primus, Live+ USD $5.40 Buy It Now 1 day
Primus Suck on This JAPAN w/Obi 1992 1st Press AMCY-401 USD $15.54 [0 bids]
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Primus Pork Soda JAPAN 1993 1st Press AMCY-542 USD $10.10 [0 bids]
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Primus Tales from the Punchbowl JAPAN w/obi 1995 1st Press AMCY-842 USD $11.65 [0 bids]
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Primus Antipop JAPAN w/obi 1999 1st Press MVCT-24064 USD $10.10 [0 bids]
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PRIMUS discography

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

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

4.02 | 135 ratings
Frizzle Fry
3.93 | 159 ratings
Sailing the Seas of Cheese
3.31 | 108 ratings
Pork Soda
3.85 | 96 ratings
Tales From the Punchbowl
3.20 | 69 ratings
The Brown Album
3.54 | 82 ratings
3.84 | 64 ratings
Green Naugahyde
3.39 | 33 ratings
Primus & the Chocolate Factory
3.81 | 16 ratings
The Desaturating Seven

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

3.50 | 41 ratings
Suck on This
3.50 | 2 ratings
Live Frogs Set 1

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

4.33 | 26 ratings
Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People
4.04 | 17 ratings
Hallucino-Genetics: Live 2004
4.71 | 8 ratings
Blame It On The Fish

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

3.79 | 15 ratings
They Can't All Be Zingers

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

5.00 | 1 ratings
Jerry Was A Race Car Driver
4.00 | 1 ratings
Here Come The Bastards / American Life
5.00 | 2 ratings
My Name Is Mud
0.00 | 0 ratings
My Name Is Mud (Promo CD)
0.00 | 0 ratings
Making Plans For Nigel
0.00 | 0 ratings
Making Plans For Nigel (Cheesy EP 1)
0.00 | 0 ratings
Making Plans For Nigel (Cheesy EP 2)
2.48 | 22 ratings
Miscellaneous Debris
3.28 | 40 ratings
3.67 | 23 ratings
Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People
3.07 | 8 ratings
June 2010 Rehearsal

PRIMUS Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Tales From the Punchbowl by PRIMUS album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.85 | 96 ratings

Tales From the Punchbowl
Primus Prog Related

Review by martindavey87

4 stars With their fourth album, 'Tales from the Punchbowl', Primus have finally managed to channel all their talent into something somewhat akin to a cohesive rock album. Taking their unusual style of offbeat, alternative funk rock and applying it in a more traditional rock setting, Primus have managed to produce a record that is more accessible to the mainstream public, without having to compromise their own distinct sound.

There's no other band that embodies the term "acquired taste" better than Primus, and even on a release that features some of the bands most radio-friendly material, there's plenty of their obscure (and somewhat self-indulgent) weirdness, that doesn't follow any type of traditional songwriting trait, and features an almost monotone spoken-word dialogue.

But yet, unlike previous albums, I seem to be able to tolerate it here. The odd music, the random, yet interesting lyrics, the humour... everything here just seems to work on some artistic level or another. It's like a car crash, an ugly mess but you just can't look away.

The highlights for me are 'Professor Nutbutters House of Treats', 'Mrs Blaileen', 'Southbound Pachyderm', 'Over the Electric Grapevine', and of course, the band's biggest hit, 'Wynona's Big Brown Beaver' (which is for me, like so many others, the song that introduced me to Primus). But the album flows so smoothly that even small, comedic, filler tracks such as 'Space Farm' and 'De Anza Jag' are infectious and notable in their own right.

As interesting as it is unique, Primus truly aren't to everyone's tastes (including my own), but 'Tales from the Punchbowl' is just a straight-up good album, and serves as a great starting point if you're new to the band.

 Sailing the Seas of Cheese by PRIMUS album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.93 | 159 ratings

Sailing the Seas of Cheese
Primus Prog Related

Review by martindavey87

2 stars Not these guys again...

There was a time in my youth when I'd have loved the quirkiness of a band like Primus. With their obscure sense of humour and their blend of rock and funk, there's truly no other band like them. But what makes them so unique is also what pretty much puts so many people off of them.

And to put it bluntly, it's mostly boring self-indulgence.

While the musicians themselves are all incredibly talented, and certainly adept at thinking outside the box, the music itself is very hard to follow, and definitely requires the listener to be equally open-minded. There's very little singing, with vocalist Les Claypool preferring more of a spoken-word type of vocal style, and a lot of the music itself tends to plod along with no real melodies sticking out. As a whole, it's just a complete mess.

If I had to pick out some highlights, it'd have to be 'Tommy the Cat' and 'Jerry Was a Race Car Driver', most probably because these are the notable singles from the album, and while they do have some infectious grooves in the music, as per usual with this band, the spoken babble that is the lyrics kind of ruins them.

I'm sure there was a time when I loved this band, especially as I seem to recall asking for some of their albums as Christmas and Birthday presents in my early twenties. But I listen to 'Sailing the Seas of Cheese' now and it bores the life out of me. Primus really are in a league all of their own when it comes to "keeping an open mind", sadly, it's just not a very good one.

 Frizzle Fry by PRIMUS album cover Studio Album, 1990
4.02 | 135 ratings

Frizzle Fry
Primus Prog Related

Review by martindavey87

2 stars It would be an absolute understatement to say that Primus is an acquired taste. Their music is incredibly obscure, with some of the most random musical passages and the most quirky lyrics you could think of. And so it is, that their debut album is a convoluted mess of ideas thrown together with no real sense of direction, other than being random for random's sake.

While the musical ability between all the members is of a high calibre, especially bassist, singer and all-round main man Les Claypool (story goes that he was once turned down to join Metallica for being "too good"), the general compositions seem rather unfocused and boring. Nothing really stands out in this 52-minute smorgasbord of random guitar riffs and vocal melodies, which usually are delivered via something more akin to talking or just completely random noises.

If I really had to pick out any notable highlights, 'John the Fisherman', 'Too Many Puppies' and 'To Defy the Laws of Tradition' could be considered alright, but honestly, this album as a whole just gets rather boring and repetitive fast. I'm sure there are people that love songs that randomly go into renditions of 'Humpty Dumpty', but to me, it's just not cool, it's not funny, and it's not really all that clever either.

 Frizzle Fry by PRIMUS album cover Studio Album, 1990
4.02 | 135 ratings

Frizzle Fry
Primus Prog Related

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Residents fan Les Claypool and his cohorts unleash their twisted funk metal style on an unsuspecting musical world on this debut album. Claypool's bizarre vocal style is a "love it or hate it" sort of thing, but if you can at least tolerate it you'll find a weirdly intricate bass-heavy album which somehow manages to be oddly catchy despite how downright weird it is. Primus are the sort of band where a little of their work goes a long way, but on balance I would say that this release has a slight edge over the subsequent Sailing the Seas of Cheese, perhaps because it feels a bit more fresh and wild about the edges.
 They Can't All Be Zingers by PRIMUS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2006
3.79 | 15 ratings

They Can't All Be Zingers
Primus Prog Related

Review by SteveG

4 stars And now for something completely different.

Primus are pretty long in the tooth, having been around for over 25 years, but if anyone is a classic prog lover that wants to checkout something more technical without being inundated by non stop double bass drumming and sludgy guitar, then give old Primus a try.

Why exactly Primus are listed in PA is a bit of a mystery to me, but they are a three piece group that knows their musical strengths and limitations and appear not to take themselves too seriously.

This "greatest hits" compilation features the band's most requested songs played in that they play in concert, especially Jerry Was A race Car Driver, MY Name Is Mud and Wynona's Big Brown Beaver. Propelled by Les Claypool's funk and finger slapped bass style that's surrounded by caustic atmospheric lead guitar from Larry LaBonde and stellar drum work from Tim Alexander, the music is generally a funk/tech mish-mash made more enjoyable by Claypool's corny but at the same time cleaver lyrics, along with "come on down to South Park" vocals. (Primus do the familiar theme song from the animated Comedy Central show.)

The only reason that I would recommend a compilation like this, spanning from 1990 to 2004, is that Primus have a sameness about their sound that never really deviates from album to album. Heavily influenced by RUSH, KC and Zappa, but never really sounding like any of them, or anyone else for that matter, They All Can't Be Zingers is a nice slice of technically proficient absurdness that's a tasty treat at times. A tasty treat that just might convert you to the band's maincourse of the numerous studio albums this 16 song compilation was culled from.

 Frizzle Fry by PRIMUS album cover Studio Album, 1990
4.02 | 135 ratings

Frizzle Fry
Primus Prog Related

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

5 stars PRIMUS is one of the many eccentric bands to come from San Francisco, only no flower children here. A product of the demented imagination of founder Les Claypool, PRIMUS managed right from the start to forge their own musical style that kinda fits in here and there in the different genres, but when it really comes down to it, doesn't fit anywhere! They are certainly alternative funk metal but they are equally quirky in how they are experimental and progressive at the same time without really taking you into the seas of inaccessibility.

FIZZLE FRY is their very first studio album after their first round of quirkiness of releasing their live 'Suck On This' as their debut, which included a whole bunch of tracks that would end up on their studio albums. Together with Jane's Addiction, PRIMUS introduced the world to the wonderful world of alternative metal that would usher in the 90s and dethrone the glam scene and replace it with grunge, groove and nu metal and indie rock.

FIZZLE FRY has a lot of sizzling hot smoking alternative guitar riffs accompanied by Claypool's unique signature bass style and hardcore drumming action. While PRIMUS is primarily considered to be Claypool's baby, it should also be noted that after the debut guitarist Todd Huth left the band to focus more on his family, Larry LaLonde (previously from the death metal band Possessed) joined the party and never went away. He has been just as a consistent ingredient in the band's sound as Claypool's on their studio albums anyways.

PRIMUS has experienced the same problem as Spinal Tap in that their weakest link has been retaining a permanent drummer as since their inception in 1984 as a band has gone through seven drummers who have mostly gone but some came back only to go again. On this one we get Tim Alexander who performs the duties quite exemplarily. As far as i know none have spontaneously self-combusted in bizarre gardening accidents though.

I personally think FRIZZLE FRY is my favorite PRIMUS album. While it fully displays the idiosyncrasies of Claypool, it doesn't feel like he has the upper hand quite yet. The songs are all diverse and the energy is high. There seems to be more guitar action and less bass dominance. In short, the songs are balanced and quite creative. The goofiness is peeking around the corner but there is a more serious approach on album number one.

God forbid, there are even rip roaring guitar solos as on the title track and 'Spaghetti Western.' The album simply delivers a satisfying smorgasbord of juicy ideas. There were two singles from this one: 'John The Fisherman' and 'Too Many Puppies,' the latter of which expressed a very punk attitude and anti-war sentiment where the puppies represent the victimized soldiers in the rotisserie of wars that destroy far too many young lives before their time.

Les Claypool and posse perfectly meld all their influences together well in this PRIMUS debut. They range from The Residents to Rush with a heavy dose of Zappa-esque humor and some sort of alternative country feel as well. Claypool himself has stated that their music is a kind of psychedelic polka but i'm not really feeling that myself. This is alternative funk metal run amok and i have to admit that even though it took a while for PRIMUS' sound to grow on me, i have to say that once it incubated a while, it sprouted new brain sucking properties in me and now i have succumbed to its quirky charm. FRIZZLE FRY has qualities that can appeal to thrash metal lovers, funk extremists, alternative junkies and those who just like eccentric high energy music that drifts in different directions but never quite goes to the same pastures where the other herds of musical cows are grazing. It is semi-comedic, sort of bizarre but never takes you so far away into someone else's dreamland that you can't get the gist of it. Oh, and that bass! 4.5 rounded UP!

 Green Naugahyde by PRIMUS album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.84 | 64 ratings

Green Naugahyde
Primus Prog Related

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Les and Larry from Primus returned after a leave of absence and was joined by Jay Lane as new drummer. Jay had worked with Les before with other bands and also as a session musician. His drumming style fits right with the quirkiness of Primus' sound and works very well. The sound of the album is reminiscent of the better Primus albums, which is a great thing. The only thing really lacking here is that the vocals are kind of pushed back into the mix and not so upfront as they were before. This can at times give Les' vocals a softer sound. Other than this, it's still the same great Primus sound as before, heavy on the bass, crazy on the guitar and drums, off the wall on the lyrics. That's what we all love about Primus.

We start off with a short introduction and immediately are whisked into the zaniness of the band with the rousing opener "Hennepin Crawler". Immediately we see that Primus has returned, but it's obvious that the vocals are not as up front as before. "Last Salmon Man" is part of the Fisherman's Chronicles and is more of a blues done Primus style song, a lot like the Fisherman's Chronicle song on "Sailing the Seas of Cheese", at least in style, but otherwise it is a song of it's own and one of the standouts on here. "Eternal Consumption Engine" is a cool and whacky sounding song, "Tragedy's a Comin'" is a funky-upbeat extravaganza. Up to this point, the songs don't fail to disappoint.

Next you have "Eyes of the Squirrel" which is a funny way to think of big brother, and the most of the last half of this song moves into space rock territory with it's shift to psycehdelia Primus style. This sound continues and opens up the next track with a different psychedelic sound before the lyrics finally start well into the song. "Extinction Burst" is another great standout track, heavy on the bass, funk, crazy guitar with some whacked out reggae back beat among the chaos, and a cool start-stop instrumental break at the end which develops into a great guitar solo and Primus style jam. The rest of the album follows suit with both great music and a few not so great ones, but overall, it is better than "Antipop" which wasn't bad, just not as good as before.

There isn't a lot of progression in the sound here other than just returning to the quirkiness of before, no real change. As much as I love Primus, it would be nice to have something new and exciting and not always the same sound. Yes they still go off on their usual zany songs and have cool surprises, but overall, it's the same sound as before. I love the sound, yes, but a little more exploration and inventiveness would have made this a 5 star album. Yes it's got the usual progressive sound as before, it just doesn't progress beyond the typical Primus sound. It's still an excellent album though, so 4 stars is what it gets.

 Frizzle Fry by PRIMUS album cover Studio Album, 1990
4.02 | 135 ratings

Frizzle Fry
Primus Prog Related

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars By now, most people are somewhat familiar with the chaotic, crazy, maniacal music of Primus. Of course it fits into the ProgArchives because of the originality of the music and the influence of some great progressive artists that have inspired this mad, yet amazing music that always sounds like it is teetering on the edge of implosion. So, it's not for everyone, it's is for me and I loved it from the first time I heard it. No one, however, can deny the fact that the 3 members of this band are amazing musicians that fit together so well.

This band gets it's influence from some of the most eclectic and eccentric progressive bands including The Residents, Frank Zappa, Metallica, King Crimson and Rush. Meld all of these sounds together and what you get is Primus....yet even though Primus wear their influences proudly, they have taken this sound and made it their very own.

Frizzle Fry is their debut album and they hit the ground running. This is an amazing album, a showcase of the band's talents and their signature sound. This album was originally released and not well received by the public. I don't know if the public was ready for it at the time or if it just didn't get the spotlight it deserved. However, the album was reissued after the huge successful popularity of the next album "Sailing the Seas of Cheese". Since then, this album has quickly become a favorite of mine and every Primus fan and it features many of the band's legendary songs including "John the Fisherman" (featured on one of the Guitar Hero editions which I have attempted to play and have a blast doing it, even though I suck at it, it's still a blast to play the song), "Puddin' Time", "Too Many Puppies", and "Mr. Knowitall", every one of these songs an amazing blast of whacked out noise and chaos, teetering somewhere between conventional heavy rock and insanity. There are other great songs on here besides the regular classics including "To Deny the Laws of Tradition", "Groundhog's Day" "Harold of the Rocks" and so on. There are a few more blues oriented rockers, but when I say blues, I mean it in a very non-traditional way, like the multi rhythmic title track and the softer (?) side of Primus featured in "The Toys Go Winding Down". Yep, that's as soft as it gets for Primus, which is still heavy.

Many say this music isn't for everyone, and that's's too chaotic, but that is what I love the most about it, and it's unpredictable on the first several listening's. The sound does tend to get predictable though as one gets used to their music, but to me, it never gets tiring. This album in my opinion is one of the band's best, it's a pinnacle to bass driven/guitar heavy rock, it's loud and heavy, and it doesn't really let up much except for a few short interludes. Also, if you get the reissue, you get as a bonus track a cover of one of their major influence's songs, actually a medley of 2 of The Residents songs "Hello Skinny/Constantinople" which is a worthy cover with the Primus sound. Definitely worth looking for the bonus track and it fits very nicely with the rest of the album. I have to give this 5 stars because it is an essential showcase for the band and it is a very important album for those who love music with the bass featured very prominently. Great stuff, fun music, and very original. Primus would go on to influence many future bands in return. They took their influences and turned it into their own sound and tipped heavy metal music (or at least heavy rock music) upside-down. Essential!

 Primus & the Chocolate Factory by PRIMUS album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.39 | 33 ratings

Primus & the Chocolate Factory
Primus Prog Related

Review by Tom Ozric
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Primus And The Chocolate Factory. This is how the soundtrack would've been reflected had Willy Wonka laced his fantastic candies with LSD........ Here, Primus' Les Claypool has re-imagined the musical backing of Gene Wilder's 1971 classic fantasy film Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. And let's welcome back drummer Tim (Herb) Alexander, who seems to come and go as he pleases. What an eccentric collection of pieces this release contains. Typically quirky, 'out-there' and rather complex, nothing is 'normal' when it comes to Primus. This is one, curious band that's certainly difficult to classify. Also featuring the 'Fungi Ensemble' (Matt Dillon - Tabla, Vibraphone, Marimba) and Sam Bass ('Cello), the songs mainly feature Les on his upright bass, with sparse appearances with his resonator and regular electric basses, Tim playing his kit and nik-naks like how an orchestral percussionist would, Ler playing his skewed guitar lines as usual, and contributing lead-vocals (!) to a track. Let's just say that this album is a blast - it's pure humour, joy, and very Primus. Only Les can get away with twisting and old-fashioned classic into such a modern sounding, freaky extravaganza. And even my 14 y.o. neice gets a kick out of this one. Mostly made up of shorter, incidental links, main tracks that are stretched out beyond the 4 minute mark stand on their own as only Primus can arrange - heavy, avante and plain weird. Classic examples being the manic intensity of Candy Man and the child-like glee of Golden Ticket (traditional Primus). These 2 tracks are pure-gold, just like the ticket !! Elsewhere you can hear the Wonka 'magic' of Cheer Up Charlie, Pure Imagination, Semi-Wondrous Boat Ride and Wonkmobile, interspersed with the various Oompa- Loompa ditties offering the amusing lyrics (especially presented with Claypool's nutty delivery), and various instrumental snippets. I should mention that the Hello Wonkites and Farewell Wonkites pieces remind me of the intro of Pink Floyd's Dogs Of War track. This album may not be the funkified metal extravaganza their fans have been waiting for in the wake of the cool Green Naugahyde album, but it's still has enough fun/enjoyment, and replay value for me to give it a 4th star. And the 'Chocolate' brown vinyl makes it even more delectable......

 Primus & the Chocolate Factory by PRIMUS album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.39 | 33 ratings

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.

Thanks to Retrovertigo for the artist addition.

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