By Ellen Eldridge
Those who aren’t yet familiar with Primus have a ton of catching up to do, but should instantly recognize the band as the creators of the “South Park Theme.”
The drawn-out success of Frizzle Fry (1990) carried the band through its lesser albums in the ‘90s, but by the turn of the century, Primus took a hiatus that resulted in a greatest hits album in 2006, and a return to its roots with the Oddity Faire Tour. Enter Green Naugahyde, released last week, solidifying Primus’s return to powerful, pop-metal with just enough edge to necessitate a “keep away from small children” warning.
What Primus did with They Can’t All be Zingers (2006) combined the band’s inevitable greatest hits album in concept and artwork through the 16-single release in a cheese slices package. The band paid homage to Sailing the Seas of Cheese (1991) and Frizzle Fry with the face from the sauté pan on Frizzle Fry emerging from the cheese on the album cover. Further titling said greatest hits album as They Can’t All Be Zingers kept that tongue-in-cheek humor as on the faux Metallica parody Brown Album (1997). Fans have grown to love Primus’ patented cheese and amazing, face-melting music over about a quarter of a century.
Primus must exist to epitomize humor in music because not only do the lyrics make fans laugh while thinking about semi-serious issues like in “Tragedy’s a’Comin’” and “Jilly’s on Smack,” but also the sounds of Claypool’s slap bass tickle the funny bone. Those who caught Primus’ Oddity Faire Tour may remember “Jilly’s on Smack.” The song truly does take a humorous approach to the all-too-common theme of drug addiction and death with its most repeated and most eerie line, “Jilly’s on smack and she won’t be coming back for the holidays.” The fact that this song stands the longest track, right in the middle of Green Naugahyde speaks to its importance as does the buzzing and panned sounds characterizing the song. Primus spices its sauce with just enough dark moods to recreate what early Primus fans loved on Green Naugahyde. The substance itself surpasses vinyl-coated fabric, which really makes one think about what Primus wants to say about the collaboration of sound put forth. Is it a new blend of fabric covered in a digital form of vinyl? From its opening “Prelude to a Crawl” through the “Eyes of the Squirrel,” and past “HOINFODAMAN,” Primus carry us along a typical journey that fans of the first track on Frizzle Fry will enjoy.