Primus
Sailing the Seas of Cheese


3.5
great

Review

by Adam Downer STAFF
October 25th, 2007 | 200 replies


Release Date: 1991 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Primus have a really good bassist. He sounds funny.

I'm pretty sure I can begin this review with the following statement and not get attacked for being too fanboyish or even worse be accused of being a n00b: Les Claypool ***ing rules at bass. Seriously. As a four-string plucker myself, watching Les Claypool play bass is like getting smoked in Halo by people you know are more nerdy than you, then being mocked in a vernacular that makes just enough sense to be irritating (But in all fairness, you probably were just uber pwnd). He's that good. Listening to Primus's Sailing the Seas of Cheese is like listening to a Hendrix record in many ways. It's a bass record, or at least should be considered one. Each track derives off of a badass foot-stomping riff laid down by Claypool and continues in a redneck funk until it just can't funk no more. Backed by the snake-like slithers of Larry "Ler" LaLonde's guitar and Tim "Herb" Alexander's pitch perfect drumming, Claypool has free reign to crunch out angry/offbeat riffs Flea wishes he had the opportunity to use nowadays. As for Sailing the Seas of Cheese, Primus really click here to make one helluva good time on an album that, though littered with filler, contains tons of talent to make an enjoyable listen whenever you want to kick back and maybe shoot some squirrels with your BB gun.

Considered by many to be Primus' most "fun" album, each track on Sailing The Seas of Cheese, save for "Fish On", is upbeat and grin-inducing. Album single and standout "Jerry Was a Racecar Driver" was included in the original Tony Hawk video game for that very reason, and not unjustly. Built off an unfathomable bass lick, "Jerry" struts with a measurable confidence and a guitar lick that runs with a punk rock attitude. Combine that with a delicious mosh section, and "Jerry Was a Racecar Driver" crystallizes as a song impossible for anyone to dislike. Songs such as this are what form Primus' appeal: Undeniable instrumental skill, funk's confidence and punk's attitude are three great tastes that taste great together. All over Sailing the Seas of Cheese, songs blast, regale, stomp, and slither with an essence of something that's just ***ing cool. “Sgt. Baker” runs like the perfect song to march down the street to with a sly twitch at the end of your lips. In this song, Claypool takes on the persona of Sgt. Baker, and brings you right with him as he shouts orders to his inferiors like “I will rape your personality, Pummel you with my own philosophy, Strip you of your self-integrity, To make you all a bit like me” with a badass confidence. Sure it’s horrifying when taken out of context, but then again most of the lyrics off Cheese are. That’s not the point. Claypool disguises all of his lyrics, some of which are really quite good, with a hillbilly’s tone to add some level of irony to the fact that he’s really pissed off. ”I hold no hope for this holy treason of love” he cries towards the end of “Eleven”, but he sounds so funny saying it, the line goes unnoticed.

The strengths of Sailing the Seas indubitably come Primus’s unbending drive to bring the funk, but the weaknesses are born from there too. Most of the album follows the same path, and thus at times comes off sounding one note, particularly when Primus turn up the ridiculous and sacrifice musical sense. The album hits a snag towards the end when “Is It Luck?” and “Tommy the Cat” come around. The two tracks have such irritating guitar riffs and ridiculous vocals, that they come off as nothing more than vehicles for Claypool to show off. One of the reasons Claypool is such a talented musician is that he can incorporate his vast amounts of talent into songs that are actually good, but on Cheese, he is somewhat hit or miss in that category. Scattered around the album are tracks like the previously mentioned duo, where the repetitive nature that appears on every track isn’t backed with enough substance to make it worthwhile. Thankfully, these tracks don’t appear often enough to drag the album down too much, only to prevent it from being better than great. There’s enough awesomeness to propel Sailing the Seas of Cheese from start to finish, with plenty of head-nodders to rock out to. Primus’ own ode to crystal meth, “Those Damned Blue Collar Tweekers”, plays up the irony again as Claypool waxes about the use of the drug among workers while somehow sounding like a Viking in a metal band on his emphatic ”Heyuhh”’s. Tracks like these are what end up making Sailing the Seas of Cheese such an amusing and delectable record.

The album ends rather anticlimactically, with a Spanish refrain of “Here Come the Bastards,” but it doesn’t diminish the epic quality of “Fish On”. Opening with a sweet, wryly innocent sounding bass cadenza, “Fish On” gets rolling when the guitar enters tuning, and Claypool begins to sing over by far the instrumentally darkest song on Sailing the Seas. Claypool sounds like a dangerous character over the music, which is odd because the song’s about fishing. Claypool’s most innocent lyrics of the entire album come here, and don’t match the feel of the song at all, which is quite humorous. With all the climaxes of tri-tones and minor soloing, when Claypool says in a deadly sincere voice ”Dad caught a hundred pound sturgeon on twenty-pound test. Now he fought that fish for an hour and a half. Darrell'd say "Jump ya sons a bitch!" and he grabbed for the gaff. When we got him in the boat, he measured six feet long! I was so danged impressed I had to write a song called Fish on,” it is a truly special moment. “Fish On” ends with a breakdown, to only further the idea that something really chaotic is going on and the song is like omigod so dark, but the reality is, it’s the funniest portion of the whole album. In the end, it sums up Sailing the Seas of Cheese so well; Nothing quite matches correctly, but it all works together somehow to make one damn fun album. Oh yah and like seriously Les Claypool’s a God.

Recommended Tracks

Jerry Was a Racecar Driver
Sgt. Baker
Those Damned Blue Collar Tweekers
Fish On




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user ratings (869)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Electric City
Staff Reviewer
October 25th 2007


15737 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Might up this review to a 4, not sure yet.

The Viking reference was for Balls.

Digging: Ricky Eat Acid - Three Love Songs

Two-Headed Boy
October 25th 2007


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I really don't like Primus anymore, but nevertheless it was a great review.

Also, American Life is clearly one of the standout tracks.

McP3000
October 25th 2007


3941 Comments


If i were to get into Primus, is this the album i should start with? I've heard it is...

Doppelganger
October 25th 2007


3124 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Those damned blue collar tweeka's, they been runnin' this here town.
MCP, that would be Frizzle Fry.This Message Edited On 10.25.07

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
October 25th 2007


15737 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Probably yeah, if only for Jerry Was a Racecar Driver.

EDIT: My comment is to MCP.This Message Edited On 10.25.07

astrel
October 25th 2007


2614 Comments


I am just curious how drumming can be pitch perfect?

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
October 25th 2007


15737 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It fits the music perfectly, being very good without taking the focus off of Les Claypool.

botb
October 25th 2007


9677 Comments


so why is this in metal?

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
October 25th 2007


15737 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ask the mods, I don't know.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
October 25th 2007


15737 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I just dont think its a very good song.

Wizard
October 25th 2007


19406 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I thought the first paragraph was fucking hilarious (comaprison between Halo). Seriously well written review but this album wasn't half as interesting as TFTPB or PS.

Digging: Khonsu - Traveller

Serpento
October 25th 2007


2351 Comments


This morning I was teaching Joe Arcone, with his infinite metal knowledge, who Les Claypool was. I almost cried.

Nice, I didn't like the intro but then again that's just me.

MrKite
October 25th 2007


5020 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This album gets old quickly. Still, Tommy The Cat, Jerry Was A Racecar Driver, and Those Damned Blue Collared Tweekers are highly enjoyable tracks.
Les' big downfall is that his bass lines tend to sound a little samey.

Meatplow
October 26th 2007


5524 Comments


Primus get slammed so much, for the exact reasons that many fans describe them as you did in this review.

I love Primus and this album, but I don't think you did a very good job getting across objective reasons to appreciate them with this review and I can't blame people for despising them at times. Primus will always be a difficult band for anyone to get into and this kind of rampant fanboyism turns people off. Apart from that, it's a pretty good review and the fact you like Primus is cool with me but try and keep this in mind for future reviews. Some constructive criticism bro.

They are certainly demented, I love the fusion of all instruments on their records as it makes something cartoonishly evil. Sure it is bass driven, but the technicality of that particular instrument is not the reason STSOC impresses me. The songs are excellent as a whole, but this is often overlooked for a few reasons (primarily the bass playing being massively overrated, the vocals of Les being a massively acquired taste, and the strange timings and cheesiness of the band).

I am familar with a lot of their work and love this band. Given plenty of time (this is truly not a band you can listen to once and actively dismiss, as you truly are missing out of some great stuff that reveals itself over time) Primus reveals many appealing layers and are one of my favourite acts of all time. But still, not everyone is going to feel that way unfortunately

Willie
Moderator
October 26th 2007


15977 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I bought this when it came out... I only remember liking the songs they had videos for.... the rest of the album kind of didn't do anything for me...

Digging: Necropoli - I

UncalledFor
October 26th 2007


100 Comments


I don't see how the bass playing is overrated, Meatplow. Sure I've seen a bunch of YouTube videos where people play along with songs like DMV quite perfectly but it's another thing to actually come up with the basslines, composing entire songs out of them and being able to play them for an hour and a half, non-stop, while standing up and singing. Brilliant musicianship is so much more than just technical prowess.

Meatplow
October 26th 2007


5524 Comments


He's an amazing bass player, saying he is overrated does not mean he isn't fantastic at what he does both technically orotherwise. I am not criticising him at all, I love the guy.

When people cite him the greatest and most prolific bass player of all time it is bound to ruffle a few feathers when there are people like Stanley Clarke, Steve Harris, Victor Wooten, GZR and Jaco Pastorius out there. I am not rating any one over the other as they are all unique IMO, but arguments involving Primus usually end up with people discussing how they hate the band because Les is an overrated bass player. I'm not saying he is (i reckon much of the praise is just) but it's a factor that is mentioned often.

UncalledFor
October 26th 2007


100 Comments


That makes sense. I generally object to the term "overrated" anyway - it always sounds so smug to me, anyone using the word is essentially making the claim that their opinion is worth so much more than that of the majority, and that they know the exactly appropriate 'rating' of the product.
But admittedly it's equally annoying when a musician is called the "best [instrument] player of all time" or something along those lines. Both statements show an extremely boring way of appreciating art.

(IMO)

Willie
Moderator
October 26th 2007


15977 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

IMO, but arguments involving Primus usually end up with people discussing how they hate the band because Les is an overrated bass player. I'm not saying he is (i reckon much of the praise is just) but it's a factor that is mentioned often.
I never hold it against a band just because their fans have hyped them up to some ridiculous level, it's not their fault. Les may or may not be over-rated, but who cares? The music may not reach the hype, but as long as it's still good...

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
October 26th 2007


15737 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I love Primus and this album, but I don't think you did a very good job getting across objective reasons to appreciate them with this review and I can't blame people for despising them at times.


I have to disagree with that. The reason I enjoy any Primus is because of the bass playing. I don't think they're excellent songwriters and Les' vocal style gets tiring. Listening to the bass is the most fun part of this album, and albeit in the review I hyped Les Claypool, but it was tongue in cheek to half-jab at Claypool fanboys, half emphasize Les' bass skills.



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