Sailing The Seas Of Cheese
Primus Albums Ranked Worst To Best
by Pete Crigler
Ever since I was about seven years old, I have been a massive Primus fan. They’ve always been one of those bands that I get super excited about when a new album gets announced. They’re one of the most interesting bands I’ve ever seen live – even being surrounded by annoying hippies the whole time couldn’t diminish their impact. And they are always one of the main bands that I go back to time and time again. Some people really do feel that Primus sucks, but they really don’t understand the band. I understand that some feel that not everything the band has put out has been earthshattering, but here are my opinions of their discography.
11. Primus And The Chocolate Factory With The Fungi Ensemble (2014)
Their most recent release and one of the most unnecessary albums ever put out. Redoing the entire soundtrack from the classic Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory may have seemed like a great way to reintroduce drummer extraordinaire Tim Alexander back to the fold, but it was just completely unnecessary and with the exception of three songs, a complete waste of time. This would’ve been better off under one of Les Claypool’s solo efforts.
10. Rhinoplasty EP (1998) /Animals Should Not Try To Act Like People EP (2003)
Tied at tenth place are two of the band’s EPs, one full of covers, another made to accompany a comprehensive and amazing DVD of the band’s videos. The Rhinoplasty EP has not stood up too well over the years, but their Peter Gabriel, XTC, and Metallica covers are some of the best. The latter EP – released to herald the band’s return after a nasty hiatus – has a few decent tracks, but let’s face it, everyone (including me) bought it for the DVD. Neither are that essential, but if you want to hear a good cover of “The Thing That Should Not Be,” just download it instead.
9. Antipop (1999)
Released during a difficult time for the band and for music in general, this album has some of the most ridiculous stuff the band ever did. But the Tom Waits duet “Coattails Of A Dead Man” is one of the band’s best late-era songs that still resonates today. Tracks recorded with everyone from Stewart Copeland and Tom Morello to Trey Parker (of South Park fame) and Fred Durst show that the band was grasping at straws at this point.
8. Suck On This (1989)
Their first release – while this was recorded live, it’s just a blueprint for the craziness the band would later unleash. Literally every song has been re-recorded in studio form, so I’ve always felt that this record was for completists only.
7. Tales From The Punchbowl (1995)
Everyone remembers this record for “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver,” and while that track is a timeless classic, the rest of the record comes across as their psychedelic/experimental effort particularly on stuff like “Southbound Pachyderm.” “Mrs. Baileen” still stands up to the test of time as one of their best songs and even twenty years later, it still sounds great live. Overall, this is good, but not great.
6. Miscellaneous Debris EP (1992)
Their first EP of covers includes five songs originally done by Peter Gabriel, XTC, The Residents, The Meters, and Pink Floyd. It’s amazing how well these covers still sound all these years later and how – at least to me – they ended up being some of the best songs in the band’s catalog.
5. Green Naugahyde (2011)
Their first full studio release since 1999, and boy, was the wait worth it! The band is joined (at least temporarily) by original drummer Jay Lane and the resulting disc is chock full of some of the best material the band had put out in years. “Lee Van Cleef” and “Tragedy’s-A-Comin’” are two of the best and catchiest songs they have ever put out. A hell of a comeback!
4. Frizzle Fry (1990)
Their full-length studio debut, this is an album that took a few years for me to really ‘get,’ as it’s different in tone. It’s jammier and a tad more experimental than later records. “John The Fisherman” is still one of the band’s best ever tracks and the whole album serves as a nice blueprint for what the band would eventually come to be. This is the beginning of the ‘prime’ era of Primus from 1990-1995: the classic era, an era that would never be topped.
3. Brown Album (1997)
Their first album with new drummer Bryan Mantia and a bit of a departure from their established sound. The production is intentionally lo-fi and that brings out the ambience in tracks like “Arnie” and my personal favorite, “Duchess And The Proverbial Mind Spread.” Tackling different subject matter like impending fatherhood and boxers from the early 20th century managed to make the album more important than others.
2. Pork Soda (1993)
This was very difficult decision as both this one and its predecessor are so great. I settled on sending Pork Soda down to number two because there are a few more jam-type songs here than on Sailing, and that’s a downer for me. But of course, who could forget tracks like “My Name Is Mud” and “Mr. Krinkle.” This author’s personal favorite ever since he was a small child is “Bob,” one of the most depressing songs about suicide ever, but the music stands out so much. In essence, this album – along with a couple of others from that timeframe – encapsulates my childhood and that’s one of the reasons it ranks so high.
1. Sailing The Seas Of Cheese (1991)
Going back and listening to this album as I’ve gotten older, I have much more of an appreciation for it. Songs like “Here Come The Bastards,” “Sgt. Baker,” and the immortal “Tommy The Cat” are some of the best songs of the early ‘90s. Hard to believe that this was one of the first albums ever released by Interscope Records! As the time has gone on, this release has stood the test of time as one of the most different and exciting records to come out of the whole alternative rock era.