It's a rare thing in music to follow your own path, remain unconventional,
and still find widespread acceptance and commercial success. Primus
is one example of this rare specimen, which also just happens
to demonstrate amazing musical talent. The most familiar lineup
of the trio included Les Claypool (Bass), Larry "Ler"
Lalonde (Guitar) and Tim "Herb" Alexander
(drums). The current lineup includes drummer Brian "Brain"
Mantia. Starting out in Northern California in the mid-80s,
they didn't have to wait decades for success. By 1993, they had
a few albums under their belt, had scored a gold record with Sailing
The Seas Of Cheese, and were headlining the Lollapalooza tour.
This all happened with little radio airplay, and waves of fans
shouting "You Suck" at their shows. You don't have to
listen to them very long before developing either a hatred, or
longtime devotion to their offbeat mix of rock/funk/metal with
cartoon character vocals. Joe Gore of Guitar Player magazine
noted what he called "the Primus paradox: if your music is
really uncommercial, you can sell a ton of records." In recent
years, the inevitable side projects have seen Claypool in groups
like Frog Brigade and Oysterhead, even as Primus
continues its occasional tours.
The latest compilation offering from Primus is called They
Can't All Be Zingers. The first thing to hit me was the visual
concept and packaging of the CD. It's made to look like a package
of Kraft Singles, with the Track list included in the Nutrition
Facts on the reverse. After removing the plastic outer wrapper,
the CD and case have the appearance of a stack of cheesy singles.
As the wrapper states, it's "16 Slices of Creamy Audio Goodness."
The 16 slices will walk you through their discography from Frizzle
Fry (1990), to their DVD bonus CD Animals Should Not Try
To Act Like People (2003).
Criticizing a compilation CD is like criticizing a live show.
Other than the performance itself, everyone has their own opinion
of the merits of the set list. From what I see in Zingers,
they have hit most of the well known, as well as a few lesser
known gems. From Frizzle Fry, they included "Too Many
Puppies", but a notable MIA is "Harold Of The Rocks".
There was a stretch of albums from 1993 to 1997 with Pork Soda,
Tales From The Punchbowl and The Brown Album that
seemed to produce one commercial hit, and generally weaker efforts
with the remaining tracks. For these albums, they had the obligatory
offerings, and I have no complaints. I believe they could have
offered more from Antipop (1999). This production had many
collaborators, including Stewart Copeland, James Hetfield,
Fred Durst and even Matt Stone of South Park
fame. The result was still inescapably Primus, but even more eclectic
than their fans are used to. This compilation could easily have
included 3 or 4 songs, versus the lone offering of "Coattails
Of A Dead Man".
Overall, They Can't All Be Zingers hits the intended
target; it's another quality compilation to generate some revenue
for the band. Along with their current tour, the cash they raise
this year should help finance many a Claypool side project to
come. I think that's a very good thing for anyone that appreciates
his off-beat, original style.
- Brian Lumberg
1. To Defy The Laws Of Tradition
2. John The Fisherman
3. Too Many Puppies
4. Jerry Was A Race Car Driver
5. Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers
6. Tommy The Cat
7. My Name Is Mud
8. Mr. Krinkle
10. Over The Electric Grapevine
11. Wynona's Big Brown Beaver
12. Southbound Pachyderm
13. Over The Falls
14. Shake Hands With Beef
15. Coattails Of A Dead Man
16. Mary The Ice Cube
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