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June 22, 2024

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The Brown Album (Interscope Records)

By: Melanie Campbell

Aw, shucks, what can you say about Primus? That Les Claypool listened to WAY too many Mothers of Invention records when he was growing up? That they're models of 'truth, decency and above-average dental work? (a blurb on one of the plethora of Primus websites) That they're gonna get lots of airplay? NOT! That's all right, though, 'cause we're quite sure that all the hard-core Primus fans would like to keep the band all to themselves. Hopefully they won't mind, though, if folks who aren't real familiar with the bands' music other than the notorious 'Winona's Big Brown Beaver' check out the latest offering, 'The Brown Album'. Primus, like martinis and black olives, would be what's politely referred to as 'an acquired taste'. However, this release tries to make this taste a little more palatable for those dingalings who've never been 'Sailing the Seas of Cheese'. Those of you for a hankering for the unusual, ie: wacky lyrics and maddeningly abrupt time-changes will probably love this disc. It's a little like a Monty Python flick-each time you play this sucker, you'll hear things you didn't hear the last time. Nothing wrong with that, heaven knows there isn't a dearth of brainy music being put out nowadays. This disc also points out the bands' musical influences, among them jazz, hip-hop, metal, rock, and funk, and Primus does some amazing things with this array. Where else could you find a song like 'Bob's Party Time Lounge', a new kind of twist on the 'eat, drink, and be merry' theme (and we're still trying to imagine what Bill Murray's unctious Nick, the really bad nightclub schmoozer from 'Saturday Night Live' coulda done with THIS one, "Pack my nose with cocaine, feed my filthy hole, bust out the dancin' women, I'm prone to lose control". Not exactly 'The Girl From Ipanema', is it?), alongside the tune 'Fisticuffs', an ode to some more of Claypools' growing gallery of storybook characters, Yankee Sullivan, and Lilly and McCoy? Listen here, freinds, Jimmy Buffet ain't got NOTHING on this boys' imagination! 'Camelback Cinema' and 'Golden Boy', meanwhile, will sorta remind you of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but wethinks that Primus was doin' this kind of funk first, and even if they weren't, well, it doesn't matter, because we also thinks that Primus does it a whole lot better, thank you very moooch. The playing is crisp, professional, and sharp, and the lyrics are quite thought-provoking ('Shake Hands With Beef' and 'Arnie' are a couple of standouts in the colloquy department). Ya gotta have an open mind to start with, and you might have to give 'The Brown Album' about 5 or 6 listens before it starts to grow on you, but if it does, you'll most likely be hooked for life. And if it really gets you going, you'll probably chuck all yer old 'speed metal-thrash' cds out the nearest window, and start collecting music from the likes of John Zorn's Naked City and Captain Beefheart. And Les Claypool would be very proud of you for broadening your horizons. Now, won't that make you sleep better tonight??
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