Album – Sailing the Seas of Cheese
Artist - Primus
Key Players – Tim Alexander – drums, water jug. Larry LaLonde – guitar, banjo. Les Claypool – bass, clarinet, lead vocals.
Produced By - Primus
Release Date – May 14, 1991
What caused me to blow off the dust? The band recently did (or still ar on) a “3D”
tour and I just thought it had been some time since I listened to much from
them other than the occasional songs that pop up on radio.
Overview – This was the second full lenth and major label
debut for San Francisco based band Primus. Formed in 1984 by Claypool and LaLonde they'd go on to
release a series of experimental, funk metal that met prog rock. Claypool seemed to redefine the roll of a
bass player and found his way in to many jam band friendly circles. Always surrounding themselves with state of
the art gear and players Primus continue to push the musical boundaries of the
“power trio”. This album would be only
one of two albums of theirs to go platinum (selling more than 1 million
units). The band is also well known for
writing the theme song to the animated TV show “South Park”.
FDF Comments (aka the songs) – A creaking ship sound is
quickly over taken by a deep bass as “Seas of Cheese” kicks off the record, its
just a 40 second intro and then “Here Come the Bastards”starts off. Claypool is the master of the bass, but don't let him take
the only credit. LaLonde and Alexander
are well up to the task. There is a
mathy and progresive feel to the track.
Claypool won't ever win an award for being a big vocalist. Part of what makes them unqiue is the
delivery from Claypool. “Sgt.Baker”
starts with Claypool slowly working it up, and Alexander finding his slot on
the drums. Random stricks and splashes
on the cymbals before Claypool seems to nod and off it goes. LaLonde puts on the riffs, with a sharp
attack. The whole band seems to be more
active with the backing vocals here.
There is a false ending on the track and when they come back in, it full
bearing. Claypool gets the intro on
“American Life” with a simple bass line (well for him) before everyone comes
in. LaLonde gets his first real run at a
solo and the band seems to be a little on the downside tempo wise here. It is still a complex and interesteing track,
but its just slower than you are used to.
One of the bands bigger songs, and more well know comes in “Jerry Was A
Racecar Driver”. The bass work is
impresive and the Alexander drum line is something else to marvel at. Outside the chorus the band really explodes
and its hard to sit still. A frenzied
moment in live shows. “Eleven” has
Alexander taking the leads working around his kit and Claypool dropping big
bass notes, keeping more to simple notes and complex runs. This goes on for about 40 seconds before
LaLonde comes in as well and the vocals beging.
There is a little much of the cymal that goes “sploosh” for me on this,
but LaLonde has such a great solo I end up not caring much. Claypool wants his turn and off to the races
we all go when “Is it Luck?” takes off.
To this point, the fastest song overall on the record. How Claypool can play this quickly and sing
is a feat unto itself. “Grandads Little
Ditty” is a 37 second track of a person singing in the shower. Skippable for sure. “Tommy The Cat” follows and we are back to
that sound that makes Primus so impressive.
Everyone just going after their instrument. Tom Waits guests on the track as the voice of
“Tommy”. The band is on fire here. “Sathington Waltz” is an odd track, clocking
in about 1:42 it sounds like a band trying to find “anything”. Random notes, slow drum strikes, a bass
chord. Skip it. “Those Dammed Blue-Collar Tweekers” starts
with LaLonde doing a series of dealyed guitar chords. This is one of those pay off songs, the band
really comes in to their own I find on this track. They are great players, but this song just
feels “complete” for some reason. Each player
has that pivitol role, but the breaks their mold. It all keeps together though. A really solid track. “Fish On (Fisherman Chronicles, Chapter II)
is the longest track on the album (7:42) and it starts with Claypool working
his magic on the bass. More particular
on it, just not wailing away. It gets
towards the fomula of a song (verse/chorus) but the band is spreading its wings
might be a hard ride for some to follow, but the payoff is pretty
great. The album closes with “Los
Bastardos”. A lot of yelling “bastard”
and general chaos. It is not the finest
Where are they now? - Tim Alexander left the band in
1996. He would rejoin in 2003 but again
say he'd had enough by 2011. He played
in the band “Laundry” that released two records and he also joined Blue Man
Group. Primus has taken a few “breaks” during
their time. During downtimes Claypool
has played as part of Oysterhead (with Trey from Phish and Stuart Copeland of
the Police) and a series of his own solo and group formations. Primus is still writing and playing
live. In 2012 they did the first ever
“3D Tour”. The show was enhanced with 3D
video and quad surround sound.
FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) – August 20th and 22nd I
saw the band open for U2 at Foxboro Stadium.
They played even before “Disposable Heros of Hypocracy”. Claypools' bass did rumble the stadium, and
those smart enough to show up early enough were treated quick and rowdy
sets. July 17, 1993 they were part of
Lollapaloosa. The band played mid-day
and seemed to be at home for this slot.
The last time I saw the band was August 8, 1997 the band was part of the
H.O.R.D.E fest. They were in their
finest form this night (the festival had Beck and Neil Young as well). I can't believe its been that long since I've
FDF Overall Take – Primus is an interesteing band in they
seem to split fans right down the middle.
From what I can tell, if you appreaciate what they are doing musically
you can sort of look past Claypools vocals.
Others see that as just what comes with liking the band. All three are musically amazing so there is
always something to challenge you. Keep
in mind, Bob Dylan has a crappy voice too.
Curious? Check out
Jerry Was a Racecar Driver
You can fetch a copy for yourself right here
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