Primus Albums Ranked

Primus is an American funk metal band formed in El Sobrante, California in 1984. The band is currently composed of bassist/vocalist Les Claypool, guitarist Larry “Ler” LaLonde, and drummer Tim “Herb” Alexander. Primus originally formed in 1984 with Claypool and guitarist Todd Huth, later joined by drummer Jay Lane, though the latter two departed the band at the end of 1988. Featuring LaLonde and Alexander, Primus recorded the live album Suck on This in 1989, followed by four studio albums: Frizzle FrySailing the Seas of CheesePork Soda, and Tales from the Punchbowl. Alexander left the band in 1996, replaced by Bryan “Brain” Mantia, and Primus went on to record the original theme song for the TV show South Park and two more albums, Brown Album and Antipop, before declaring a hiatus in 2000.
In 2003, Claypool and LaLonde reunited with Alexander and released a DVD/EP, Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People, before touring sporadically through 2009. In 2010, Lane rejoined Primus, replacing Alexander, and the band released their seventh album, Green Naugahyde, in 2011. In 2013, Lane left the band to focus on other projects, and Alexander rejoined once again. They have released some of their records on Claypool’s own label Prawn Song Records. Primus is characterized by its irreverent, quirky approach to music. In 1993, Robert Christgau remarked: “[Primus is] quite possibly the strangest top-10 band ever, and good for them.” Here are all of Primus’ albums ranked.

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9. Primus & the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble (2014)

“Personally, I’ve thought that Primus’s best days have been long gone for a while. But then you see them produce something like this, and you know without a doubt that they’ve become exhausted of material. Claypool and his band, who I would hardly call “Primus” anymore, reach to dark ends to try and create a soundtrack to the classic film “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory” that is conceptually darker and slower than the original film’s exploits. But in this experimentation, they end up creating something that is literally too slow, too meandering, and too… desperate to produce any excitement at all. For as long as Primus has been around, they’ve ultimately decided, definitely voluntarily, that their career has reached an end. They need to admit now more than ever.”

8. Green Naugahyde (2011)

“For the first time on a Primus record, the second half is better than the first. My favorite tracks are all in a row, from Eyes of the Squirrel to Green Ranger. I mean, those tracks are among the best crafted Primus tracks ever. The rec got a solid production, is a mix of Primus sound with Les solo stuff, including the first Primus drummer, and is funkier than previous releases (Brown album, Antipop). So Primus still sucks bitches. A succesful comeback. And yeah…Lee Van Cleef fucking rocks.”

7. Antipop (1999)

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Antipop sounds almost nothing like any other Primus album, and this is a bad thing – it seems they have traded their clever and peculiar qualities for a more streamlined approach that is reminiscent of a different style of music, called… pop? Whether or not the title was meant to be ironic (although I doubt it was), the music here has too many qualities of typical modern heavy metal to be of particular interest as a Primus album. Les Claypool’s voice still sounds quirky, but even that is processed to the point that if it were playing in the background you might not even notice it half the time. “

6. The Desaturating Seven (2017)

“This is the most “progressive rock” Primus album, and the most atmospheric one to date. While it still sounds like Primus, I do think their sound evolved on this album into something more centric on subtle grooves and bass lines as opposed to thundering riffs and… well, thundering bass lines! Tracks like “The Dream”, “The Trek”, and “The Storm” have lots of build-up to their chaotic moments, and it’s a style that works well for Primus.”

5. Brown Album (1997)

“Not really prime Primus, Les and Ler apparently missing Herb more than they thought, or maybe just running low on new ideas, this one sort of Primus-by-numbers, quirky and silly and chocked full of complicated bass riffs and tasteful guitar bits and off-kilter drumming (although Brain’s work is far less complex than that of his predecessor), but none of that adding up to anything on the level of past successes…  Even lyrically, Claypool’s patent humourous tales not as interesting as they had been before…  Still one of the most ferociously talented bands in rock, just not as invigorating as they’d been earlier.”

4. Tales From the Punchbowl (1995)

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“It could have been a better album, there’s a lot of good songs, and a lot of crapy one too. ”Wynona’s”is really cool and ”Mr Nutbutter” too. My favorite song on this album is ”De Anza Jig”, too funny and too cool, man, banjo really kick asses. ”Hellbound” and ”Southbound Pachyderm” are great songs. On a lot  of the other songs, their’s too many strange noise and that screw up the entire album.The drum sounds like Neil Peart’s style, the bass is played by Les Claypool, so it’s absolutely perfect but the guitar doesn’t sounds really great on this album, most of the time it just make strange noise.”

3. Pork Soda (1993)

“‘There are not many bands better than Primus when you’re looking for excellent musicianship combined with weird humor and complex compositions. Namedropping has to be done, as their influences include some of my favorite artists. So go and listen to Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, King Crimson, Tom Waits, The Residents – to name just a few. But Primus take all those influences and forge them into something completely new. And though they refine their sound with every record, adding new elements, expanding their universe, they are always instantly recognizable. And of how many bands can you say that these days?”

2. Frizzle Fry (1990)

“This was a gem presented to me by the most unlikely sources… considering.  I was introduced to Primus by a deadhead.  At the time I abhorred the dead.  I was blown away, much in the way The Pod moved me.  Incidentally, The Pod was also introduced to me by a Dead Head.  Is it any wonder that I now have an appreciation for… This album is the pinnacle of Primus rivaled only by Suck on This.  I am a great fan of Les Claypool, but mainly his material since primus.  This album is an instant classic from beginning to end.  No bad tracks on the album.”

1.Sailing the Seas of Cheese (1991)

“Primus’ Sailing the Seas of Cheese is the bands definite breakthrough album; written off the basic structure of Frizzle Fry, but with better production and more Claypool personality. Obvious highlights include “Jerry was a racecar driver”, “Tommy Cat”, and “Sgt. Baker”. They are incredibly enjoyable with their definite bass hooks and quirky Primus lyrics. However certain songs must be further examined for their real magic. Luke2 mentioned how such songs as “Eleven”, “Is it luck?”, and “Grandad’s little diddy” are simply filler and serve no purpose. However they simply require numerous listenings. “Eleven”, possibly my favorite song, displays some of Primus’ more complex song structures and one of their best guitar solos; After listening to “Is it luck” one can be stunned by Les Claypool’s odd lyrics combined with one of the best bass intros to a song.”