After Primus made the albums Frizzle Fry, Sailing the Seas of Cheese, Pork Soda, and Tales From the Punchbowl, their drummer Tim "Herb" Alexander decided to quit the band. Eventually, they got a replacement for Herb and made an album called The Brown Album. This is my favourite album lyrically and it contains some nice guitar, very impressive bass-playing, and catchy percussion beats. The band line-up at the time were...
Les Claypool - Vocals/Bass
Larry LaLonde - Guitar
Brain - Drums
After this album, Primus tried sounding more industrial with 1999's Antipop, Tim Alexander eventually came back, and we haven't heard anything new from them except for their Animals Should Not Try To Act Like People EP. The Brown Album is the closest to being Primus' softest album and it isn't as good as Frizzle Fry, Sailing the Seas of Cheese, Pork Soda, or Tales From the Punchbowl, but it still is an album worth checking out.
01. The Return of Sathington Willoughby
Anyone who has listened to the Frizzle Fry album knows "Sathington Willoughby", the thirty second filler track which talks about "the legislator that penned us up a bill that banned the use of certain things like this and that...". Well seven years later came this sequel, a really brilliant opening track that's 10 times longer than its predecessor. The drums and guitar are decent, but what really catches on is Les Claypool's amazing bass playing and the lyrics, which is a speech Sathington Willoughby gives. This speech is so good that I can't decide the best part of it. Definitely the best way Primus have ever started an album, tied along with "Professor Nutbutter's House of Treats" off Tales From the Punchbowl.
The bass gets dull compared to the previous track, but the guitar really stands out in this song. The words Les Claypool sings are on a game that you could die in if you lose called Fisticuffs and the words really show in the three different choruses. Not as good as "The Return of Sathington Willoughby", but still a worthy track to listen to.
03. Golden Boy
The music becomes harder than before here. The guitar, bass, and drums get loud, fast, and catchy. This song's about a golden boy with arms made of nickel and a forehead made of wood who caused a lot of trouble, showing that you can't judge anything by its appearance. This is also the only Primus song where you would hear the F-word. A pretty decent track for a hard Primus song.
04. Over the Falls
A soft song, but a great one. Brain's drums don't do well here, but Les Claypool's bass and Larry LaLonde's guitar balance each other out while Les does some nice singing. If you don't know what the meaning of the song is, check out its music video, in which a guy makes a vessel to go over the falls with. An okay song for a single.
05. Shake Hands With Beef
The only other single The Brown Album had and my favourite song on this album. The way the instruments are played and the words are sung will get this track stuck in your head. The phrase "shake hands with beef" means "stop going vegetarian and get back to eating meat" and Les Claypool's lyrics show how great it is to be a meat lover ("She's so fine, she's so sweet. Mom and Pop they raised her on huge slabs of meat. She's fine."). I recommend this song, because it really shows Primus' talents everywhere.
06. Camelback Cinema
This sounds like "Shakes Hands With Beef" got stuck in quicksand and couldn't get out. All of the instruments loop themselves and the words aren't anything special, just a man watching a movie called Burt In White Lightning with his weekly whore. The chorus isn't good either, because it's just Les saying the song title over and over again. Nothing really shines on this track, but it's catchy enough for me to not hit the skip button.
07. Hats Off
The shortest track on the album, clocking in at 1:57. The bass is nice here and the lyrics in the first verse and the chorus are so bizarre, but Les Claypool is well known for being a strange lyricist. The best part is the second verse, in which Les talks about his life during the ages of 13, 14, 17, and 19. This is actually the best filler track this band have written.
08. Puddin' Taine
Not to be confused with "Pudding Time" from Frizzle Fry, this is a weighty song with a weighty title about a weighty guy with a weighty name. Larry's guitar goes jumping everywhere and Les Claypool goes "woohoo" on some points, which makes me think of "Wynona's Big Brown Beaver" off of Tales From the Punchbowl sometimes.
09. Bob's Party Time Lounge
The softest song on this album. It starts with Les saying "Glad you came, glad you're here, have some champagne, imported beer". Then the bass warms you up for the hard sound of the guitar and drums before the very soft verses are reached. Even though this song's soft for Primus, I like it making hard transisitions inbetween the lyrics. What really shines here is Brain's percussion skills and Larry LaLonde's solo after the second verse. Then afterwards, the track ends almost the same way it started. The Rhinoplasty EP shows that this was a great song to do live and unfortunately this is out of their live repetoire along with every other song from The Brown Album and Antipop.
10. Duchess and the Proverbial Mind Spread
Another song I wish Primus still did live, but you can find footage of a performance of that song on the DVD that comes with the Animals Should Not Try To Act Like People EP, even though the song is mislabelled as "Kalamazoo". Anyway, the music sounds like something a reggae band would do and Les Claypool mentions about spreading your mind, a movie maker named Duchess, and a guy named Billy who use to follow the dead with Arnie. Brain also does some good drumming here.
11. Restin' Bones
This track really drags on, yet Larry's guitar and Brain's drums do amazing work. The words are neat too and the song's on being friends with a worried man who's accomplished everything in live and is just resting his bones. Has some nice references to Elvis and Johnny Cash in there and mentions the drug Primus usually talks about in songs, aphetamine.
Very weird instrumentation here. The music and the way Les sings reminds me of "Ace of Spades" from Motorhead and the lyrics are saying about a guy who actually wants to live in a crappy town (makes me think that this is almost the opposite of what "Sh*t Towne" from Live says). Les Claypool actually plays a different bass here and the song ends so unexpectedly.
The album's most catchy track. The way all of the instruments are done here definitely makes it like something you could dance to. The words are good here too. I like Les saying the first eight letters of the alphabet (A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H) in the first two verses before saying the first word of the next line, which is also the ninth letter of the alphabet (I). The chorus has no lyrics at all, just the guitar, bass, and drums doing the very catchy stuff they did at the beginning. A great song on the crazy antics of Kalamazoo.
14. The Chastising of Renegade
Just like "Restin' Bones", this song drags on. And just like "Golden Boy", it's about a boy causing trouble. This time, it's on a man who named his son Renegade and didn't know what such a name could stir up. I also notice in the lyrics that Renegade stolen a tow truck from Arnie, the same guy that got mentioned in "Duchess and the Provebial Mind Spread". The instrumentation is decent here, but the guitar does a really amazing riff near the end of the song. Other than that riff and the lyrics, nothing much to say here.
The last track on The Brown Album and a great way to end it off. As you can tell, this is the special track for the guy who got mentioned in "Duchess and the Provebial Mind Spread" and "The Chastising of Renegade". The drumming Brain does sounds similar to "Restin' Bones" and the music that gets played while Les narrates what Arnie does makes you think about the songs you listened to earlier. I'm not gonna give away what happens to Arnie, but you'll be shocked when you find out.
Track By Track Rating:
N/A = Not Applicable
1 = Awful
1.5 = Very Poor
2 = Poor
2.5 = Average
3 = Good
3.5 = Great
4 = Excellent
4.5 = Superb
5 = A Classic
01. The Return of Sathington Willoughby [4.5]
02. Fisticuffs [3.5]
03. Golden Boy [3.5]
04. Over the Falls 
05. Shake Hands With Beef 
06. Camelback Cinema [2.5]
07. Hats Off 
08. Puddin' Taine 
09. Bob's Party Time Lounge [4.5]
10. Duchess and the Proverbial Mind Spread 
11. Restin' Bones [3.5]
12. Coddingtown 
13. Kalamazoo [4.5]
14. The Chastising of Renegade 
15. Arnie 
Content Rating: Mildly offensive