Tales from the Punchbowl: Primus

Rating : 100%

Primus_Tales_From_the_Punchbowl.jpgI have been a fan of Les Claypool and Primus for many many years. The music by Primus is funky and at times, silly, but, fun. Primus has always been in the for front of modern day Progressive Rock and Experimental Rock. Les Claypool has a style of his own with his bass playing skills. You add the skills of Les Claypool to the guitar playing of Larry LaLonde and Tim Alexander on drums and you have yourself a masterpiece. That is exactly what “Tales from the Punchbowl” is a masterpiece.

Primus released “Tales from the Punchbowl” in 1995 and it was their fourth studio record. It contains almost a full hour of music. I heard the song “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” on 98Rock when the album was first released. I remember, thinking to myself, “wow!” Here’s another great album from the trio. I hurried into my car that night and ran to Frederick and purchased the cassette tape and ran out of the store to my stereo system in my car. I loved this record from the start to the last note.

The album has a wonderful mix of melodies and tempos. It’s hard and heavy in some places, but soft and slow in others. There is a lot of off beats to this album and within many of the song structures, but that is to be expected.

There are many great leads on this album from Larry LaLonde. In some of the songs, LaLonde is very aggressive and yet, his style can be very jazzy. The song “De Anza Jig” even has a great banjo piece to it that is performed by LaLonde. LaLonde’s slide work on the strings is also very good on all of the songs.

The drum work by Tim Alexander is brilliant. He really pounds the skins on this record. The double bass drumming on “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” is a nice touch. “Year of the Parrot” also showcases Alexander’s drumming. “Glass Sandwich” begins with some weird drumming and off beats, but that helps to set the pace of guitar followed by the bass lines. “On the Tweek Again” is another highlight of the drum work.

Les Claypool, what can I say? His bass work is excellent throughout the entire album. “On the Tweek Again” showcases some great bass work as well as “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver.” The song “Del Davis Tree Farm” has some funky bass grooves on it. I also love Claypool’s bass work on “Glass Sandwich.” The bass lines are intense and heavy. “Hellbound 17½ (Theme From)” is another good song with some traditional bass lines that is funky. Claypool’s vocals are what to be expected and the harmonizing of vocal work seems to be a tip of the hat to Pink Floyd.

Bottom line, Primus composed a very enjoyable album that is unique.  The musicianship is outstanding. The only reason I gave this album a less than perfect rating is because there is some filler to it. The production seems solid and sounds good. It’s classic Primus, but yet, it’s a bit heavier and still retains that funky groove that Primus is known for.

Track listing:

1. “Professor Nutbutter’s House of Treats” 7:12
2. “Mrs. Blaileen” 3:19
3. “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” 4:24
4. “Southbound Pachyderm” 6:21
5. “Space Farm” 1:45
6. “Year of the Parrot” 5:45
7. “Hellbound 17½ (Theme From)” 2:59
8. “Glass Sandwich” 4:05
9. “Del Davis Tree Farm” 3:23
10. “De Anza Jig” 2:26
11. “On the Tweek Again” 4:41
12. “Over the Electric Grapevine” 6:24
13. “Captain Shiner” 1:15

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