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Suck On This (Remastered)

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Album Review

The first Primus album was actually a fairly canny way for the band to get itself recorded — like a number of other acts from the late '80s and after, the trio decided to simply record a couple of live shows for its debut. This has the advantage of not only demonstrating Primus' undeniable live flair for art/prog rock/funk of its own devising, but capturing an already rabid fan base getting off on it big-time. That said, a good chunk of the album ended up in studio form on Frizzle Fry the following year, so aside from hyperfans Suck on This is going to be a bit of a secondary listen, though many of those same fans would claim it as the superior release. Certainly the band is flat-out throughout, its tempo-shifting riffing and Funkadelic-meets-Rush rhythm explosions benefiting from a fairly crisp recording. The downside is that Les Claypool's voice is sometimes searching for breath or a touch buried in the mix, though — songs like the merry grind of "John the Fisherman" and "Harold of the Rocks" suffer a little for it. Still, anyone who likes the Zappa/Beefheart goofy voice approach Claypool is fond of will be perfectly happy with his nutty lip-flapping on songs like "Groundhog's Day" and "Pudding Time." The highlight is probably "Tommy the Cat," an early favorite that didn't surface in the studio until Sailing the Seas of Cheese. Here, sans Tom Waits cameo, it's a rollicking explosion of beatnik rant and spastic lust, while the band makes one hell of a righteous noise unto the heavens. Various stage-patter snippets and other odd moments — at one point Claypool cheerily asks the crowd to proclaim Larry Lalonde a bastard, while elsewhere the band's slogan "We're Primus and we suck" takes a bow — fill out the disc.


Formed: 1986 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Primus is all about Les Claypool; there isn't a moment on any of their records where his bass isn't the main focal point of the music, with his vocals acting as a bizarre side-show. Which isn't to deny guitarist Larry LaLonde or drummer Tim "Herb" Alexander any credit; no drummer could weave in and around Claypool's convoluted patterns as effortlessly as Alexander, and few guitarists would willingly push the spotlight away, like LaLonde does, just to can produce a never-ending spiral of avant-noise....
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