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.
Jerry Was a Racecar Driver
Those Damned Blue Collar Tweekers