Suck On This


Caroline Records, 1990

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


I probably won't win over Les Claypool and crew with what I'm about to say: Primus doesn't suck.

The band whose rallying cry has been "We're Primus, and we suck" has proven time and time again that their brand of funk, metal, country and rock is a unique amalgam. Whether it's been Claypool's lead-guitar work on the bass and his nasal style of singing, Larry Lalonde's light, jangling guitars or the frenzied pounding of then-drummer Tim "Herb" Alexander, Primus has earned their own place in rock's history.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

It's that thought that leads us to dig into the legendary Pierce Memorial Archives (one of these days, I'll buy that new feather duster for the glam rock section) to find this 1989 release, the debut effort Suck On This.

The album was recorded over the course of two live shows in 1989, and was originally released on the band's own Prawnsong label. (When Primus signed with Caroline in 1990, they re-released the album.) The opening notes to Rush's "YYZ" proves to the listener that this is going to be a unique experience from the beginning. The Rush intro then kicks into "John The Fisherman," where Claypool shows off his talents on bass quickly. I still think this is one of the best moments Primus ever caught on tape.

The band's subtle humor is evident on cuts like "Groundhog Day," where the lead singer is searching for apple pie, but settles for Corn Chex, and "Tommy The Cat" (which would later be immortalized by Tom Waits on Sailing The Seas Of Cheese. This is one band you don't listen to for a serious message, you listen for the funk and the humor.

In fact, many of the songs on Suck On This eventually made it onto Fizzle Fry, but the live versions continually outshine the studio remakes in terms of power and emotion. Claypool and crew are best when they're working the crowd over to their skewed view of the world. This is what makes this album shine so well; it's one of the few live albums out there that captures the power of the band on vinyl without losing any of it.

From "The Heckler" to "Pudding Time" to "Harold Of The Rocks," Suck On This is a picture of a band not caring about earning a platinum record, but having fun on stage doing what they love. Thankfully we have this preservation of that early power to remember the old days from - this is one worth searching out.

Rating: B+

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© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Caroline Records, and is used for informational purposes only.