Primus & The Chocolate Factory With The Fungi Ensemble


Prawn Song/ATO, 2014

REVIEW BY: Pete Crigler


On this, the first full-length release by the classic lineup of Primus in almost twenty years, the band has decided to deconstruct an American classic: the soundtrack to “Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory.” It’s an interesting idea on paper that just feels kind of weak and uninteresting on disc.

Probably the most twisted rearrangement is “The Candy Man,” that ol’ Sammy Davis Jr. chestnut now sung by Les Claypool as only Les can do it. The song still sounds catchy, but it’s a different kind of catchy: all twisted and screwed up. “Cheer Up Charlie” still sounds sad but remains upbeat; Claypool’s vocals make him out like a storybook teller. The always-amazing Tim Alexander is an absolute percussive miracle, playing these unique arrangements like he hasn’t a care in the world.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Golden Ticket” just doesn’t work, unfortunately. It sounds too forced and overly repetitive. The centerpiece of the film, “Pure Imagination,” has some amazing music from the band with help from Sam Bass on cello and Mike Dillon on vibes, but it just seems to be lacking the magic to make it a standard in Primus’ repertoire. “Oompa Augustus” sounds like an outtake from 1993’s Pork Soda and that’s damn fine with me; the music sounds great and Les’ vocals are at their utmost creepy. There’s also the Oompa Loompa’s take on Violet, Mike Teevee and Veruca Salt, but unfortunately they all sound the same. If they’d taken a risk and changed the music of each one, it would’ve made them more memorable.

“Semi-Wondrous Boat Ride” relies largely on the great cello work of Sam Bass as it gives Claypool a chance to become the bastard offspring of Gene Wilder. “I Want It Now” is guitarist Larry LeLonde’s chance in the spotlight as he takes a very rare vocal appearance and slays it. Definitely the standout of the record.

Being a diehard Primus fan since I was a wee little thing, I had high expectations going into the record. Unfortunately, those expectations were not met, with this being the most overall woefully unsatisfying Primus record since 1999’s Antipop. If the great tracks on the record had been compiled into a six song EP, then it would’ve done a whole lot better.

Hopefully with their next full-length, they’ll go back to the Primus of old and give the fans more than just a gleeful romp through an old childhood favorite.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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