Primus - Frizzle Fry
Caroline Records
Progressive Funk Metal
14 songs (51:25)
Release year: 1990
Primus, Caroline Records
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Although the first incarnation of Primus was born all the way back in the early eighties, under the name Primate, it would take the shape that we know and love today only after Les Claypool played in Blind Illusion with Larry LaLonde. There are clearly influences from the experimental Thrash of The Sane Asylum on this, Primus’ debut full-length, Larry’s guitar playing verging on the Thrashy at times – of course, his time in Possessed probably had more impact than he admits to nowadays. The range of influences at play is large, especially that of Rush (there’s a drum tribute to YYZ opening the album) through King Crimson, Pink Floyd, and Frank Zappa to the Thrashiness which the band had from their association with the Bay Area scene, as well as their time playing in support of Testament and Exodus, the latter of which Les nearly joined at one point! Of course, all this makes actually describing Primus’ music tough. Les once described the band as ‘Psychedelic Polka’ and that makes a twisted sort of sense, especially when you consider the band’s confessed Marxist leanings. No, not THAT Marx, the other one, Groucho!

Frizzle Fry was the sound of a group of experienced musicians playing their hearts out, and it’s easy to hear from how tight and together they are here. No other Rock bassist sounds quite like Les, his playing somewhere between Funk, Jazz and Rock, and the amount of amazing, technical and innovative basslines present here is simply incredible. Lovers of excellent bass playing should already be listening to Primus, but even if you’re like me and have very little technical interest, then this is still a joy to listen to. Les’ bass is a lead instrument, but Larry’s guitar playing, a twisting, turning, textural Avant-Garde morass, is also amazingly played and the interplay between the two forms the heart of the music. Of course, Tim ‘Herb’ Alexander also does an excellent job on the drums, his technical battery complimenting Les’ bass and the three form a power trio unlike any other band on earth. The closest comparison, Rush, rarely ever were this bizarre or off-the-wall, the closest thing to the eccentric stories told on Frizzle Fry being some of the more insane Saturday morning cartoon shows.

That oddness is usually the reason cited by Primus’ detractors as the reason they don’t like the band, and it is a hard band to ‘get’. Les’ spoken-sung reedy vocals verge on the deranged at the best of times, and whilst they’re not as zany on Frizzle Fry as they would be later on, they’re still quite an acquired taste. Primus, however, are one of those bands that you simply must be aware of if you count yourself a genuine fan of music. This may not be their best album, but the highlights are amazing... everyone will have their own favourites, but the Funk Metal catchiness of album opener To Defy The Laws Of Tradition is a great song. Further excellent moments abound, the laid-back Jazziness of Groundhog’s Day which soon starts to switch to an unhinged Bluesy style, the strangely heavy Too Many Puppies. My absolute favourite songs, however, are the Prog Thrash meandering of the title track, reminiscent of an alternate-universe Master Of Puppets-era Metallica that took too far many drugs and started recording Captain Beefheart tributes, and the band’s first single John The Fisherman.

As mentioned, Frizzle Fry isn’t the band’s best album, but it’s the album which I was listening to when I had my personal revelation and the band ‘clicked’ for me. Recommending an album to begin your own voyage of discovery into Primusville is nigh impossible, as each has its own pros and cons and the chances are that you’ll have to grit your teeth and listen until you ‘get’ it. Yet in my eyes at least, Frizzle Fry has more Thrashiness than the album many cite as their gateway, Sailing The Seas Of Cheese, which is markedly Funkier and more ‘fun’. Wherever you start with the band, Frizzle Fry is an album that must be a part of the journey.

Killing Songs :
To Defy The Laws Of Tradition, Groundhog’s Day, Frizzle Fry, John The Fisherman, Harold Of The Rocks
Goat quoted 86 / 100
Other albums by Primus that we have reviewed:
Primus - Green Naugahyde reviewed by Jake and quoted 89 / 100
Primus - Tales From the Punchbowl reviewed by Crash and quoted 90 / 100
Primus - Sailing The Seas Of Cheese reviewed by Goat and quoted 77 / 100
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