Primus's fourth album is, as its title suggests, an amalgam of elements that have no reason to be joined together in a sane universe. The San Francisco trio was once lumped in with the post-Chili Peppers school of punky funkateers, but Primus has always been too restless to content itself with bass-slapping celebrations of male sexuality. Indeed, on Pork Soda, the band invokes the circa '69 Mothers of Invention and Trout Mask Replica-era Captain Beefheart as often as it does George Clinton or Bootsy Collins.
It all adds up to a weird, whimsical grab bag: Pork Soda contains data-dunked white funk, brain-damaged nursery rhymes, minipercussion suites, bluegrass fragments, lots of skittery metal guitar and the often startling bass playing of Primus's main man, Les Claypool. Occasionally, as on "The Air Is Getting Slippery," Primus's glib silliness wears thin. But those drawn to the exotic should check out the eight-minute opus "Hamburger Train," on which the band attempts to capture the majestic sweep of Hendrix's "Third Stone From the Sun" and almost brings it off. And "Bob," a plodding but oddly cheerful song about "a friend ... who took a rope and hung himself," has got to be the suicide anthem of the year.
Of such offbeat stuff has Primus built its career, not to mention a fairly rabid fan base. Hard-core funk-metal freaks may find it all a bit diffuse, but if you think it's high time surrealism entered the mosh pits of America, Pork Soda just may be your cup of meat. (RS 658)
(Posted: Jun 10, 1993)
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