Is it only bassists that love Primus? New album reviewed
released Sept 2011
Is it only bassists that love Primus?
Well, given their Billboard Top Ten hits and headlining slots at festivals like Lollapalooza, I guess the answer would have to be ‘No!’ but you know what I mean ”â most fans of the band that I know at least are bassists, drawn into the fantastic world of Primus by Les Claypool’s insanely brilliant ”â and brilliantly insane ”â bass-playing. There’s not another bassist on the planet that sounds like him, wringing deliciously demented noises from his fretboard that simply defy belief… and his off-kilter vocals are an acquired taste too. Put it altogether and there’s not a whiff of mainstream compromise in anything the band have ever released ”â not even their theme tune for ‘South Park’ fercrissakes! – which makes their major label success all the more bemusing… and satisfying.
Anyway, I digress. Bassists everywhere will again be hanging up their instruments in abject disgust come September 2011 when Primus return from a very long hiatus with their seventh studio album (and their first since 1999’s ‘Anti-Pop’), ‘Green Naugahyde’, on Claypool’s own label, Prawn Song, through ATO. So, is it worth the wait (and does a one-legged duck swim in circles etc.)? Of course it is, you doubting fool, and then some too. Les and guitarist Larry Lalonde (still hard to believe he used to thrash it up in Possessed back when the Bay Area metal scene was young…) have been reunited with drummer Jay Lane, who was part of the 1988 Primus line-up, just before the band recorded their ‘Suck On This’ live debut and finished writing their watershed record, ‘Frizzle Fry’. Predictably enough ”â and this is the only time you will see the word ‘predictable’ in a sentence connected to Primus ”â Jay’s return has fired the band’s creative juices, and ‘Green Naugahyde’ is very similar in feel to their first few albums. Opener, ‘Hennepin Crawler’, has that jaunty feel that made ‘John The Fisherman’ an instant hit, complete with a ‘Tommy The Cat’ vocal delivery from Les, whilst ‘Last Salmon Man’ is very reminiscent of ‘Here Come The Bastards’ from ‘Sailing The Seas Of Cheese’.
But everyone knows that Primus wouldn’t come back and just re-hash former glories, and there’s plenty here that sees the band’s rambling psychotic muse sailing into previously unchartered waters. ‘Eternal Consumption Engine’ is an unsettling nursery rhyme about rampant capitalism, ‘HOINFODAMAN’ veers dangerously close to Chili Peppers territory with its sassy groove (until Les opens his mouth that is, and then things take an infinitely darker turn for the weird), and ‘Extinction Burst’ could be Rudimentary Peni ”â covered by Mr. Bungle! ‘Moron TV’ is oppressive and heavy, and probably the closest ‘Green Naugahyde’ gets to the claustrophobic sub-tones of ‘Pork Soda’, but the highlight of this latest nightmarish carnival is ‘Jilly’s On Smack’; just that title recalls the Ramones, and sure enough, it’s the simplest song on the album, but has a compelling, ominous (Voi Vod-ish?) vibe running throughout that is unlike anything Primus have ever dabbled with before.
Of course, comparing Primus to any other bands is like trying to pin a price tag on a love affair. No one else is going to understand your reasoning; you have to experience it for yourself. So, is it only bassists that love Primus? Well, them and anyone else that’s tired of the shallow passion-less apathetic pap that passes for most music these days.