What can you say about a one-of-a-kind band, indescribable except for manic, original and definitely tongue-in-cheek, who inspired a whole generation of artists (from Limp Bizkit to Incubus) reforming after a decade-long hiatus and creating one of their most insane albums to-date, whilst retaining all the chaos and originality of their debut release? It could only be Primus…
Despite their cult status, Primus never achieved commercial success in the standard sense, and yet are legendary to 1990’s alternative fans worldwide. However, if you need a reminder, Primus are perhaps best known as the performers of South Park’s original theme tune. Starting to recognise the band’s offbeat, sporadic style? How about the insane stoner humour threaded into acid-trip licks contributed by the band’s vocals and bass God Les Claypool, in songs like ‘John The Fisherman’ and ‘Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver’? So you know exactly what to expect from the band’s new release, ‘Green Naugahyde’.
Honestly, the new release does surprise in many ways, first of all that the band are not running short of ideas or energy in any way, and retain all the innovation and style they established with their ’91’s ‘Sailing The Seas Of Cheese’. Equally important is that the band have not stagnated, and despite their shuffle in band members of late (original drummer Jay Lane returned for the new release, to work alongside founding Claypool and current guitarist Larry LaLonde), the sound is still everything it was 20 years ago and more, with a new-found, almost sinister twist to the band’s latest project. The bass is still the centre of the stage, a bizarre odyssey amongst the chaos, and truly is still the stitching that holds together the fabric of the album. Claypool is a legend in his field; deserving of endless credit alongside RHCP’s Flea, and Victor Wooten (Bela Fleck And The Flecktones), he is pretty much a bass prodigy, creating licks with such manic sophistication (Like a mad butler) and effortless spontaneity. That is not to undercut the talents of drummer Lane and guitarist LaLonde, who deserve endless credit for being able to rival Claypool’s energy and obvious skill, and for creating something thoroughly original.
The tracklist reads like the mad scribblings of an acid user; ‘Eternal Consumption Engine’, ‘Salmon Men’, and ‘HOINFODAMAN’ to name but a few, and they truly do give an insight into the band’s creative level, experimenting with emotion from euphoric insanity to impending doom. The album starts off after the brooding prelude, with a perfect example of the band’s post-funk style in ‘Hennipin Crawler’, sounding more like Zappa and Rush than anything from the last 20 years. The vocals differ from their ’90s releases only in style, and despite being a lot less elobarate they are precise and intense. “You can bite that pie in the sky!” Claypool wails over an insanely catchy bassline and incredibly paced drumbeat. And it maintains this energy throughout, with fantastic diversity being a constant factor; no two tracks are the same. ‘Eternal Consumption Engine’ starts with djembe beat and an odd, gypsy-esque riff bouncing into insanity. Highlights from the album are many, from the blasting insta-classic ‘Tragedy’s A-Comin’ to the steady-paced, slightly isolating tune ‘Eyes Of The Squirrel’, and bass-tastic track ‘Lee Van Cleef’.
In fact, the whole album is a highlight itself, in Primus’ long and diverse career, a testament to 20 years of crude jokes, insane innovation and not giving a damn. Well deserving of a listen.
For more information visit the official Primus website.