When Pus Comes To Shove


Velvel Records, 1998


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


This could well be the best record you've never heard of. Released not long before Velvel Records apparently closed its doors, Platypus should have been some people's best dream ever. Combining half (well, at that time, anyway) of Dream Theater (bassist John Myung and keyboardist Derek Sherinian), one of the driving forces behind King's X (vocalist/guitarist Ty Tabor) and drummer extraordinaire Rod Morgenstein, Platypus was primed to be a potential rock crossover superstar.

Don't let the bizarre title fool you. When Pus Comes To Shove is fifty-one minutes of solid rock and moving instrumental work that has appeal for fans of all types of music, from rock to progressive. If you like well-executed and well-written music, then this album is worth the search.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Opening with a solid rocker, "Standing In Line" will kill any prejudice you might have about Platypus going into it. (Sure, I had one: I thought this grouping would be kind of a prog-rock novelty act on the line of Primus. Boy, was I in for a pleasant surprise!) Each instrument's voice is clearly heard in the mix, allowing fans of any of the members' bands to revel in their playing. This album, for example, further convinced me that Myung could well be one of the greatet unsung bassists in rock today.

The power continues in the softer-tempoed but stronger-messaged "Nothing To Say," which Platypus pulls off with Swiss watch-like precision. The other vocal tracks - "I'm With You," "Willie Brown" and "Bye Bye" - all shine as well, with "Willie Brown" being the standout among them. I'd love to know the inspiration behind this track - too bad the bio I was sent doesn't give any hints to it.

Instrumental-wise, When Pus Comes To Shove is jam-packed with some of the best performances one could ever want to hear. "Rock Balls / Destination Unknown" is one track where each member of Platypus gets a time in the spotlight to shine (though I do wish Myung had been given a little more room to solo), while "Chimes" stand s out for its gentle beauty. "Platt Opus" does have some rudimentary vocals, but they play such a small role in the song (albeit an important one) that I'd rather count this one as an instrumental, unless anyone in the band is reading and wishes to object.

The worst thing to say about this album - and, believe me, if this is the worst, I'd take it any day - is that some of the performances are so gentle, that they might just lull you to sleep. Granted, it didn't help that the first time I listened to this disc, I popped it in the stereo in the bedroom.

So what's it going to take to rescue When Pus Comes To Shove from obscurity? Simple: word of mouth. If you're a fan of Dream Theater, King's X, Dixie Dregs, or any band of these ilks, run out and buy this album. If you have a friend who's a fan of these groups, tell them to buy it. None of you will regret it for a minute. When Pus Comes To Shove is an album that deserves a better fate than the one that has befallen it at this point - and I sincerely hope this is not the last we hear from this musical grouping.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 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 Velvel Records, and is used for informational purposes only.