I love the band Primus. The weird sounding guitars, and odd tempos of the drums, makes for an interesting ride. But, what I like the most, is Les Claypool and his style of slap bass and weird vocals. I got into Primus in 1993, just after “Pork Soda” was released. I remember hearing the song “Mr. Krinkle” played on 98 Rock and I was like what the “hell was that?” After that album was released, “Tales from the Punch Bowl” was next. I remember being at Walmart after midnight and I bought that album in 1995 upon it’s release. I played it in my tape deck on the way home and just fell in love with the bass lines and the music itself.
Les Claypool is a genus on bass. His style of bass guitar and vocals are so unique that it’s easy to see why so many people pass him off as being nothing more than just silly. But, when you hear a Primus song, you know it’s a Primus song just by hearing the very first note. He has pretty master the realms of bass either by playing the stand up bass or one of his 4, 5, 6 stringers. That is what makes him such an amazing talent. Les, himself is the best of Pink Floyd, Rush, and King Crimson all wrapped up in one person and band.
This is my top 12 favorite Les Claypool’s bass work within Primus. Believe me when I say this was very hard for me to think about. There are so many great Primus Les Claypool moments. These may not be the best songs, but these are my favorite and what I think makes Les Claypool one of the greatest all-time bass players.
12. “Lee Van Cleef” I just love the grooviness of this song. Hearing that bass line kind of makes think about Lee Van Cleef.
11. “Coattails Of A Dead Man” This song is one of the most fucked up Primus songs out there. But, I really like it. The bass is weird. To me, this song is about as insane and yet as fun as a bass could get.
10. “Shake Hands with Beef” Now this song has some funk to it. I love watching Le Claypool slap those strings upon the neck of his bass. It’s such a weird song to and features a very off rhythm musical style.
9. “Fisticuffs” This song here seems to be so simple to play, but I just love the overall sound of Les’ bass. It has a certain thud to the overall sound as if the bass was a fist.
8. “Too Many Puppies” A protest song yes, but the bass is amazing. It has a very heavy drive to the overall riff. It’s very straight forward.
7. “Here Come the Bastards” This song is pretty heavy as well when it comes to the bass. It sounds a bit sloppy, but that is what makes this such a great bass riff.
6. “Jerry Was a Race Car Driver” Now, this song is insane. The riff is so fast and complex. I think that this really showcases what Primus is with regards to the bass itself. I love the heavy chorus bass to it. It just blows me away.
5. “Mary the Ice Cube” This song is so mellow when it comes to the bass. I can sit there and watch an ice cube just melt away in the summer sun. This is such a fun song to listen to and try to play along with to my own bass guitar.
4. “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” This song reminds me of a classic Country and Western style song. I love the chicken picking at the end done on the guitar. But for Les, I think this show cases that Les can play more standardized and traditional bass lines. He still has some funk in his bass, but it’s more geared toward traditional bass.
3. “My Name Is Mud” This song is just pure slap bass. It’s muddy and yet very complex. I love the opening note followed by that deep bass riff.
2. “Hellbound 17½ (Theme From)” Pretty standard bass here, but it is a fun song to play along to. This will make your fingers tired by the end.
1. “On the Tweek Again” Whammy or tremolo on a bass. That’s the biggest difference here. The bass work on this song is by far, my favorite. It’s heavy, it’s classic Les, and there is nothing that even comes close to copying this song.