First of all, I had difficulty picking a single genre for this one, as it is a Primus album, and as any Primus fan will know, they don't like to stick to genres. In fact, any Winamp user may be interested to note that they have been given their own genre in that program.
Lineup - Les Claypool - Bass, Vocals
Larry 'Ler' Lalonde - Guitar
Brian 'Brain' Mantia - Drums
Guest starring Tom Morello, Fred Durst, Jim Martin, James Hetfield and Stuart Copeland.
Primus are very much a band of virtuosic talent, in all areas except Vocals. Brain is a superb drummer, currently working with Guns N' Roses, Larry Lalonde was taught guitar by Joe Satriani, and it Satch wasn't wasting his time, and Claypool is simply one of the best bassists in the world. His vocal style, however, is an acquired taste.
This album was released in 1999, and was the last album to feature 3rd drummer Brian 'Brain' Mantia. It features Primus's traditional odd sense of humour, but this time with a much darker, angrier bent. The production values on this album are simply superb, some of the best I've ever heard. They sound almost live - it's very hard to imagine the lines being played seperately in a studio. Claypool had a special bass made for this album by top luthier [url=www.ctbasses.com]Carl Thompson[/url], the AntiMatter bass.
1. Intro (0.17)
Just that, a 17 second Intro. Weird Mellotron waltzy thing. Not much more to say, there.
2. Electric Uncle Sam (2.56)
No time wasted in getting straight down to business. The bassline is driving and heavy, the drums are pounding and spiky, and the guitars are alternately driving and ambient, with some unusual plucking noises courtesy of Larry 'Ler' Lalonde. Guest guitar on this track played by Tom Morello, of Rage Against The Machine/Audioslave fame. Metal song.
3. Natural Joe (4.12)
More of Claypools trademark heavy, very low complex basslines. This song is a dirge about the deceptive appearance of a nice, presentable guy called Joe, and all the things he gets up to on the quiet. Some of Lalonde's best work, here. The guitar lines are dark and driving, and complement the rest of the music perfectly. (It should be noted for those who are not already Primus fans that the guitar very rarely leads the song) Metallish Dirge.
4. LacquerHead (3.49)
It's interesting to note that a video to this song was released, but MTV banned it for its references to hard drugs. Doesn't seem to have mattered that it was mentioning drugs in a VERY negative way. ('The vapour made a sweet aroma/Sniffed himself into a coma'). Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit fame was the producer for this song, but the song is no worse off for it. The verses of this song aren't as heavy as the rest, but are very hard to describe. The bass drives even more than usual, in an odd, percussive way, by using some very tricky techniques. The strongest example of this is the mini-bass solo at 1.08 - unbelievable. If you see the video, his thumb disappears in a blur at that point. The choruses become much more driving, and guitar led, and the bridge becomes more of a dirge again, not particularly driving, but very very dark nonetheless, as a chant of 'Keep on sniffing till your brain goes pop' builds up and up. No idea what genre to put this into, but there are certainly metal elements.
5. Antipop (5.32)
This song begins and ends with some very tongue in cheek gothic sound effects, such as rain, ravens, church bells and so on. The song itself, an inditement of the music industry, is one of the darkest they have yet recorded. The bassline is efffective and simple (I often quote it as a great song to learn slapping on) the drums are neat, razor sharp and clipped, as is Brain's style. In the versus, the guitar is often entirely absent, but does some very effective support work in the choruses and at the ends of the versus. The guitar solo in the bridge is also very effective. Particularly powerful imagery in the lyrics here. Metal, with tongue in cheek goth accessories.
6. Eclectic Electric (8.34)
This song features Jim Martin of Angel Dust era Faith No More, as well as the legendary James Hetfield of Metallica fame. Primus had obviously made a fair few friends in the music industry by this point...
Ambient beginning, a simple bassline, with ambient guitars, and occasional bursts of VERY powerful drums hinting at what is to come. As the verse comes in, the bassline picks up and becomes more powerful, and drums start to play more constantly. The song is in three parts, and this first part is slowly building up to the second part, which really showcases the kind of power you can get when you have three of the most powerful guitarists around playing simultaneously. Suddenly, with a cry of 'I think I'm blinded by the sun!' and some morse code style bleepings materialising in the background, the bassline takes off and flies, and very shortly after some immensely powerful guitar kicks in. This is without a doubt the heaviest thing Primus have ever done. Part 3 is a dark outro, slowly deconstructing what has been previously built. This song is a work of art. Sort of Prog/Metal.
7. Greet The Sacred Cow (5.10)
I wasn't sure what to make of the intro to this song at first, it's an odd one. An audio clip of an Middle Eastern tourguide showing someone around, while some odd Middle Eastern music plays in the background. After that though, it kicks into what can only be called Dark Funk Metal. Metal guitar, trademark spiky, pinpoint sharp drums and an extremely funky bassline. As far as I can gather, the song is about Cancer treatment. Great song though.
8. Mama Didn't Raise No Fool (5.04)
Unusually, this is a guitar driven song. Once again it features Tom Morello on guitar. This is one of the angriest songs on the album, furious about the way people are duped and treated by virtually everyone, as well as popular culture ('These eunuchs in their Prada /And Gucci flavoured clothes / Wouldn't know a fresh perspective / If it bit them upon the nose') Metal
9. Dirty Drowning Man (4.48)
This time it was Stuart Copeland of the Police who was roped into help, even if it was on the production side. As a side note, Copeland and Claypool are firm friends, and worked together on the Oysterhead side project, which is also well worth checking out.
This song opens with a high pitched, ferociously fast bassline, with rumbling drums beneath it, then seems to crash down into the song. To be honest, I thought this song was a little repetitive, and one of the weaker on the album, though I do still like it a lot. Interesting it namechecks the good ole Seas Of Cheese from an earlier album.
10. The Ballad Of Bodacious (3.29)
This song is built around a very cool guitar riff, but the lyrics and attitude make it a very weird song, nestled in between angry and heavy songs about things that irritate Les, this song is a tribute to Bodacious, a champion Bucking Bronco. A downright fun song, you can't fail to love.
11. Power Mad (3.42)
This one also features Tom Morello, both on guitar, and in a soundclip in the intro, fervently denying that he wears womens panties. (Whether big white house-panties, or smaaaall delicate European Briefs) ....Make of that what you will.
Each verse in this song is complaining about something different. The first one is protesting the war in Kosovo, but they each follow the same format as the first. Funky bassline. Similar in many ways to some of the earlier songs, notably Dirty Drowning Man.
12. Final Voyage Of The Liquid Sky (5.40)
An epic sounding prog piece. More bass-based than normal. Much use of effects, such as enevelope filters. Dark lyrics, of the kind that are clearly dark, and quite powerful, without anyone being all that sure what they mean. Builds to a truly epic climax.
13. Coattails Of A Deadman (5.15)
Featuring Tom Waits on Mellotron and as Producer.
This song is simply dire. It"s the only song on the album I don't like. It's a slow, moaning wail about Courtney Love killing Kurt Cobain, albeit indirectly. It's effectively saying she drove him to it, though she didn"t actually do it. I fast through this one to get to:
Hidden Track - The Heckler
A revised, reworked and re-recorded version of the Heckler, as released on the 1989 Live album Suck On This. Somewhat typical of Primus to have a song they had been playing live for well over a decade before they release a studio version of it, and that a hidden track.
A generally ace song, driving guitar and bass, slow, lurking versus leading up to the fast paced choruses. This should have been track 13.
Overall, this album is a fine fine one. It should be in EVERY Primus fans collection, and a lot of other people"s collections too. The songs are heavier than Primus songs have been in the past, heaviest, in fact since 1989's Frizzle Fry album, but considerably more accessible. I heartily recommend it, and as I mentioned earlier, if any of you ever meets the production/recording team, shake them all by the hand.
Well, as I'm nearing the end of the third page of the Word document I'm writing this in, I'll leave it here. Feedback/Comments welcome.
Good lord, over 1500 words!