by Ian L McDowell.
Taken from 181.4 DftN!, August 15, 1997.
The trio from San Francisco is back, but this is not the same old Primus due to the loss of their original drummer Herb. I wanted to know what happened to him, so I searched the web extensively and found out that he quit andis now in a band called "Laundry." Herb leaving is a major loss.
Herb's replacement, Brain, is very different and not as expressive with his drumming. I remember fondly the intricate cymbal crashes and incredible tom work of Herb, and to my dismay, Brain doesn't realize that he has toms to pound on until the ninth song on the album -- "Bob's Party Time Lounge." To his defense, he did have some big shoes to fill, and he does bring a harder edge to Primus. If this is the way the band wants to evolve, then more power to them.
Les Claypool is still the god of bass players and hasn't run out of his quirky subject matter to sing about, but the album does lack the depth and fun that were showcases of "Sailing the Seas of Cheese," "Songs From the Punch Bowl," and my personal favorite, "Frizzle Fry." Larry LaLonde is still a great deal of fun to listen to on guitar, and his licks still have the trademark "Primus sound" of percussive strumming and rockin' solos! He has an ear for what will compliment the songs without making his part be the dominant force behind the music.
"The Brown Album" can be viewed in two ways -- it is a horrible album that lacks the ingenuity, drumming, and subject matter that Primus fans have come to expect. Or it is a new chapter in the life of Primus. If their sound is harder sounding, then hey, this is a new direction for them, and we should embrace it even if it sucks!
The first single, "Shake Hands with Beef," is a good one to release because it is the best track on the album. The subject seems to be a timely topic, because we have had our fill of the slogan, "Beef, It's What's for Dinner!" This morsel is filled with Primus' quirkiness, and Brain's drumming fits the carnivorous fury. "Coddingtown" has a sound that is a flurry of rockin' guitar and double bass pedals. It sounds very different from the Primus of old, and if this is the future -- I'm very scared! "Kalamazoo" sounds pretty cool with funky bass playing, and even Brain is getting into the groove, but once again the lyrics are not out of the ordinary. If you want, visit Primus' web site. Just type in http://www.primussucks.com Unfortunately, this joke phrase lacks irony, because in reality this album does suck.