Primus - Sailing The Seas Of Cheese
Interscope
Progressive Funk Metal
13 songs (45:50)
Release year: 1991
Primus, Interscope
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Primus' second album was the one that took me longest to get into out of the band's entire zany discography. It certainly didn't help that it comes after their brilliant debut, or that the production is slightly off-kilter so that bass all but obliterates the backing guitar wailing. From the very first moments the album seems to be doing its damndest to put you off - Seas Of Cheese, the opening track and intro, is more or less a sea shanty, whilst calling the first track proper Here Come The Bastards suggests a certain disdain for someone, whether it's the listener for the band or the band for the listeners. Still, Primus being Primus, you have to distort your vision accordingly, and once you've taken a step into their wacky world then it's quite easy to see why Sailing The Seas Of Cheese broke the band into the mainstream.

Looking at the album as a whole it's a deranged parade of everyday life, twisted beyond recognition. Sgt. Baker's military march sets the tone, drums, bass and guitars weaving a complete path around each other, Les' vocals riding along the top, before American Life comes along to create a rather melancholy atmosphere with its tales of poverty . It can't be stressed enough how revolutionary Primus once were, turning the rock world on its head with their eccentric music and Rush-influenced usage of the bass as an upfront instrument. Les Claypool and former Possessed guitarist Larry LaLonde are, of course, excellent, the former providing the lead rhythm and groove with LaLonde often providing backing atmospheric wails - completely the opposite to what we're all used to in Rock, of course. Tim "Herb" Alexander often gets ignored when Primus-shaped discussions come up, as do other drummers in the band's history, but his contribution here is never less than masterly.

Everyone knows and loves Jerry Was A Race Car Driver, of course, but this album is simply packed with zany goodness. The sped-up zonkiness of Is It Luck? is one personal highlight, but I'm always rather amazed that the fantastic Tommy The Cat doesn't get more love. Getting the pinnacle of awesome that is Tom Waits to voice said cat was a genius move for the band, his garbled drawl perfectly complementing the music and Les' oddball rambling. It's actually possible that the only way to improve on Primus as they are would be to make Tom the full-time vocalist - as it is, the song also features some of Les' best basswork on the album, as well as an outstanding percussive background from Herb.

Personally, I don't see Sailing The Seas Of Cheese as Primus' best, although it contains a couple of their best songs. The various improvements and modifications that the band would introduce to their sound over the next years of their career resulted in albums that were better in nearly every way than Sailing... - one of the joys of this band is that everyone hears different things in the surprising depths of their sound, and whatever album is your personal favourite, the chances are that it's for a unique reason.

Killing Songs :
American Life, Jerry Was A Race Car Driver, Is It Luck?, Tommy The Cat
Goat quoted 77 / 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 - Frizzle Fry reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
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