Brown Album


Interscope, 1997

REVIEW BY: Pete Crigler


On their fifth studio album, Primus introduced a new drummer, Brain Mantia and a stripped-down sound. Gone was a lot of the wackiness and creepiness that had permeated their earlier, more successful records. Here, those were replaced by a more lo-fi sound and a songwriting approach closer to the mainstream, something the band hadn’t really picked at before.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

At first, I wasn’t too fond of this record because it was so completely different, but over time and with quite a few more listens, it became one of my favorites. It’s also probably the most underrated record in the band’s catalog. Casual fans are familiar with “Shake Hands With Beef,” probably the most off the wall track here, but without Les’ signature style, that track is just okay.  On the other hand, the album’s other single “Over The Falls” is truly outstanding. A metaphor for Les becoming a father, the song is one of the band’s best and despite its brevity, it demands repeat listens.

There are tracks here about people setting themselves on fire for the hell of it (“Arnie”) and one of the best songs about boxing I’ve ever heard: “Fisticuffs” tells the stories of old time boxers who died in the ring. The melody and the musicianship is just fantastic here and helps to make the song stand out from the rest.

Fans and reviewers have decried the purposefully lo-fi production as the weakest the band ever did. I will admit it is off-putting – you can barely even hear Mantia’s drumming on some tracks – but on other songs like “Coddingtown” and my personal favorite, “Duchess And The Proverbial Mind Spread,” the disjointed production serves to bring more focus to certain songs.

Overall, this is one of the more important records in the band’s catalog as it shows a band willing to make a massive departure from what had made them popular in the first place and throw caution out the window, ultimately coming out with something fresh, eccentric, and exciting.

Rating: A-

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