Primus are a band who were part of the loosely defined funk metal genre who formed in California in 1984. The current line-up consists of bassist and vocalist Les Claypool, guitarist Larry Lalonde and drummer Tim Alexander. The original line-up was Claypool, Todd Huth on guitar and Jay Lane on drums who both left in 1988. After recruiting Lalonde and Alexander, the band made the very unconventional career move of releasing a live record before the release of their debut studio album Frizzle Fry in 1990.After three more albums, Alexander left in 1996 and was replaced by Brian Mantia after which they recorded two more Lp’s (as well as the theme for “South Park”) before going on hiatus in 2000.
In 2003, Claypool, Lalonde and Alexander got back together and released a DVD titled Animals Should Not Try to Act like People before starting to tour again in 2009. Alexander left again in 2010 and Jay Layne replaced him, having not played with the band for twenty-two years, and this line-up recorded their comeback seventh album titled Green Naugahyde in 2011. However, Lane left again in 2013 and Alexander re-joined once again. They have since released two more albums and are currently still active. They have often been acclaimed for their innovative style which has often been a quirky take on rock music. So here is a top ten list of their finest moments…
# 10 – Eclectic Electric
This track is taken from 1999’s Antipop, the band’s sixth album and last before they went on hiatus. It is also the last to feature Brian Mantia on drums. The album notably featured several appearances from high profile guests such as Tom Waits, Metallica frontman James Hetfield, Faith No More guitarist Jim Martin, Limp Bizkit vocalist Fred Durst and Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello.
# 9 – Electric Uncle Sam
At number nine is another track from Antipop that kicks it off proper after the intro. The track is a very funky number that is also heavy at the same time and is reminiscent of Faith No More and to a lesser extent Rage Against the Machine and Red Hot Chili Peppers. The making of the record was allegedly rather difficult due to the band members not getting along very well at the time. Knowing this, it comes as no surprise that they went on hiatus after its release.
# 8 – Mr Krinkle
This next track was released as the third single from the band’s third album Pork Soda released in 1993.Although the title might sound like a song in a 6th grader’s tv show, the actual song itself is anything but, as it is a very sinister piece of music that see’s Primus embracing their more progressive tendencies. It was accompanied by an equally bizarre promo video that got very little airplay, and it was also unsuccessful as a single, failing to chart in the US.
# 7 – Hennepin Crawler
This track is the first proper song featured on the group’s 2011 comeback album Green Naugahyde. The lyrics are somewhat political in nature, being about the so called “American dream” and the idea of mindlessly conforming in order to be perceived as a success in life. Despite this, the song is not angry sounding with Claypool whispering his vocals and the track having a very quiet sound as a whole.
# 6 – Shake Hands With Beef
This track is taken from 1997’s Brown Album and was the first single to be released from it. As is often the case with Primus, the title and lyrics are typically humorous and sound somewhat out of place with the more serious tone of the music, which here somewhat resembles Big Black or arguably even Gang of Four, particularly with the funk-influenced bassline, which is easily one of Claypool’s finest moments.
# 5 – Frizzle Fry
Here we go all the way back to the first album from 1990 with its title track that is a prime example of how the band often incorporate innovative music with a zany sense of humour. The song is an intense number that is somewhat reminiscent of Soundgarden but for whatever reason Claypool performs these vocals that sound like the voice of a crazy cartoon character! In this sense, it could also be compared to something like Green Jell-O.
# 4 – Lacquer Head
Here is another track from Antipop that was released as its first single. The song is about three children who come to harm from suffering inhalants. Because of this rather disturbing lyrical subject matter, the song’s video was banned from MTV who saw the lyrics as inappropriate despite the fact that they are ultimately talking about the dangerous consequences that drugs can lead to. It was produced by Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst who encouraged them to go back to their early sound.
# 3- Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver
This single was taken from the band’s 1995 album Tales From the Punchbowl. This is another track that showcases the band’s eccentric nature with absurd and nonsensical lyrics and the signature funk style being mixed with a tinge of southern rock (which Claypool adopts the kind of vocal style for here). The songs charted high in several places with its highest being number twelve on the US Alternative Rock Charts.
# 2 – American Life
This track is from 1991’s second album, the comically titled Sailing the Seas of Cheese. Featuring a delicious funk beat that has a very disciplined sense of rhythm, the lyrics are another of the band’s less goofy and more topical, with it dealing of the issue of immigrants settling into the United States. This is one of the more underrated tracks on the album that spawned three singles and charted at 116 on the Us Billboard 200.
# 1 – Harold of the Rocks
At the top spot is another track from the first album that just screams “Get the Funk outta here!”. The recording for this album was financed by the proceeds that the band made from their “debut” live album Suck on This. Many of Larry Lalonde’s guitar parts had previously been recorded by Todd Huth before he left. This track is a standout on the record, which is lengthy at over six minutes long and see’s all of the band putting in a very fine performance.