Music Monday Slap Bass – “John The Fisherman” by Primus
Posted by KingShamus on January 14, 2013
Ladies and gentleman, as requested by the awesome Innominatus…I give you Les Claypool, Larry LaLonde and Tim Alexander.
This came out in 1990 on Primus’ debut album Frizzle Fry. They had been demo’ing songs and performing live for years before their first record came out. Unlike a lot of bands, their sound was relatively well-formed from the jump.
But that description short-changes just how inventive they are. At the start of Primus’ recording career, there were some groups who did slap-bass in a rock context. There were a few bands that liked to mix funk, metal and Caribbean drum sounds. Nobody did it with the amount of gleeful random goofiness that Primus brought to their songs.
“DMV” is pretty much the definitive put-down of our state automotive agency overlords. “My Name Is Mud” is even funnier when played at rain-soaked Woodstock ’94. “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” is the funhouse mirror parody of 80’s hair-metal leering sexual innuendo. “Lee Van Cleef” is a wacked-out twelve bar blues tribute to the great western movie character actor. Why is a sweaty shirtless weirdo serving a leisure suit-clad horn dog a batch of nachos in the “Jerry Was A Racecar Driver” video? Who knows, but it works.
As trend-setting as Primus is, a lot of their musical progeny lost the humor as they nicked elements of their hero’s sound. The Deftones are a cool band, but they’re about as funny as an episode of “Oz”. Groups like Korn and Incubus ripped off Les Claypool’s bass lines even as they were making humorless turgid rap-rock. Turns out the hardest thing to steal from Primus is the zaniness.
Also, on a more personal note, back in the early 2000’s I got one of those music organizer programs. You could collate your music by artist, title of the song, record name, whatever. You could also list your songs by genre. So you’d see labels like “rock”, “metal”, “pop” and “polka”. Primus was the only band that was also a genre. I always thought that was pretty cool.
They’re so unique, they’ve carved out a genre they occupy all by themselves.