ARTIST: PrimusALBUM: Frizzle FryGENRE: Metal, Funk, Stoner, EclecticYEAR: 1990 Although Primus’s true debut came in the form of a ragtag set of live recordings dubbed “Suck on This”, Frizzle Fry was the first time the musical community heard the weirdness in studio. The album begins with a sound clip, presumably from one of their live shows, where drummer Herb Alexander sloppily whacks out the unmistakable intro riff to Rush’s “YYZ” on a half-shut hi-hat upon the backdrop of a hooting bar crowd. Despite listening to this introduction time after time, I don’t know if I should interpret this as a tongue-and-cheek homage or an irreverent raspberry. In a way, Primus’s music seems to simultaneously reflect both of these conclusions. The band’s odd musical style and technical verbosity makes it obvious that they take great influence from their prog-rock predecessors, yet their driving tone, irreverent attitude and Claypool’s persona as a working-class curmudgeon reflect a mentality that is more reminiscent of Joe Strummer than Neil Peart. After the album’s odd introductory snippit, the goofy soundbite quickly erodes and is replaced by a doomy, chorus-laiden, atmospheric section, followed by an explosive breakout into the now-customary funk-metal sound that Primus really pioneered on Fizzle Fry. The opening track, “To Defy the Laws of Tradition”, is undoubtedly the strongest and most driving of the songs on the first half of the album, although it is far from the only head-banging anthem of dissent present on the record. “Mister Knowitall”, which I must confess is a personal favorite, has a very similar mood, attacking intellectual elitism with a grating, repetitive guitar line that is hard to listen to but nonetheless gets one’s adrenaline pumping. One of the things I really appreciate about Primus is their refusal to accept the lofty title of “artist”. Claypool has always given off this down-to-earth goofiness which, although it rarely shows in his hard, metallic music, is evident in the way he promotes his own work. Overall, the album really is a trip, most tracks resting on the border between profundity and absurdity. The twisted morality plays of John the Fisherman and Spaghetti Western are oddly titillating despite their disturbing imagery and themes, and while a track like “The Toys Go Winding Down” may seem silly and frivolous at first, the themes present are really worth examining. Overall, Claypool never really gets off the soapbox, although to be fair, he never really gets on it in the first place. Primus seems able to tackle a theme in a way that is neither pretentious nor overly serious. While it takes Stephen Wilson 8 minutes of doom-and-gloom on Fear of a Blank Planet to explore the depravity of stoner culture, Primus grapples with the same issue on Spaghetti Western, an amusing noir vignette about an unemployed layabout and his pathetic lifestyle, with a curled lip rather than an upturned nose. The album certainly contains its fair share of filler, although much of this is in the form of good-natured character sketches (Harold of the Rocks, Sathington Willoughby), and a mystifying 26-second-long clip from some march entitled “You Can’t Kill Michael Malloy”, which, in its MIDI glory, is entertaining despite its aimlessness. I’m not sure what the band’s intent was with half of these tracks, but I enjoy the desired affect nonetheless. Sure, this band is an acquired taste, but if you can stomach it, Frizzle Fry is one hell of a ride. You may not understand it upon first listen... or second listen... or ever... but I assure you that it will inject your subconscious with some tiny morsel of insight. Either that, or it will sharpen your sense of dark comedy. While it may not be for everybody, if you’re weird enough for it, I would fully advise to dive into this record. It’s really fun stuff, and it’s’ an excellent introduction to the bizarro-world that is Primus.