Primus is Still Good These Days

Primus put out a masterpiece last year, which I recently found a copy on cd of at the store:

The first thing you notice when you buy it is that the album cover is hilarious, with little gnomes or goblins. And the back and inside has a bunch of rainbow and gold stuff. The whole album is themed from that, believe it or not. It starts off on a subtle note with subdued bass, guitar, and vocals murmuring funny little things. The music sounds more like a musical than a rock or funk album. Indeed, their previous release where they rearranged Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory took this same approach.

There are many simple, but interesting fretless and stand-up bass played. Les Claypool uses way more sliding techniques than a normal bassist does on these, in order to produce a more interesting and organic tone. He emphasizes the lower-mid range, so that the listener feels his groove in their gut, mashing around like a psychedelic mushroom.

As the songs progress, things turn more towards a Sailing the Seas of Cheese type of sound, where the songs start to take on more of a rock and funk element. A clear Jaco Pastorious influence emerges on the third tracks. Here is a link to Jaco so you can compare:

Driving eight note bass modal playing illuminates these passages, and the drums pick up. The chord changes are interesting, like a good Grateful Dead tune, and with that little bit of twang. Later in the album, some of the songs take a bit long to get into a strong beat, which gets a bit frustrating at times. Song 5 takes almost four minutes to launch the real beat. This is due to a lot of tremolo guitar picking, with the guitar sliding around like a Jimi Hendrix part at Woodstock.

Finally, when the beat comes in Claypool does some cool 12th note styled riff, reminding me of their old hit song ‘My Name is Mud”. Claypool’s vocals have always been very unique and strange. He chirps and almost raps in a weird hillbilly mushroomed out voice. Song 6 is the most impressive song, playing wise. The song starts off with a strong groove from the outset. There are these really cool stops, with bass and drum fills which are unusually intricate and well-timed. The album ends with song 7, which is hilarious. They keep singing “Rainbows Don’t Touch the Ground”, over and over.

In short, this is a really strange and enchanting album. While not perfect, it manages to maintain your attention the entire time. The main thing to buy this album for is the originality and lucky charm of the album. That, and the awesome artwork and theme.