CD Review of They All Can’t Be Zingers! by Primus

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They All Can’t Be Zingers!
starstarstarstarstar Label: Interscope/Universal
Released: 2006
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To me, They All Can’t Be Zingers sounds like a Primus album. Okay, that might be a really stupid thing to write, but I have a point. A lot of times, when you grab a greatest hits compilation from, say, Generic Artist A, the greatest hits are almost always better as a collection than any record the band put out. This isn't always true – Police records are better than their greatest hits collections – but they are the exception, not the rule. Primus sounds like, well Primus. They are a really messed-up combination of Rush, the Police and Frank Zappa. They make records that feature tremendous drumming, a bass guitar that is the lead and driving instrument and creative guitar work that fills in the gaps. The vocals are just goofy. Les Claypool delivers the lyrics as a deranged character trapped somewhere between a trailer park and an insane asylum. Cherry-picking their records is difficult, because the stuff they do is incredibly unique and listening to an entire record is often rewarding. Now, many a music fan is going to absolutely hate Primus because of the preceding description. I call the bass playing bombastic and virtuoso; someone else will call it ridiculous and categorize it as self-indulgent noodling. To you sir, I say fuck off!

Zingers grabs 15 tracks from the band's seven studio records and throws on a bonus song for good measure. The collection is chronological and grabs fairly evenly from the band's catalog. If you have heard of Primus, or heard some Primus, and you are not one of their dedicated fans, these are the tracks you have heard. Of course “Tommy the Cat” featuring Tom Waits, “Mr. Krinkle,” “Jerry Was a Race Car Driver,” and “My Name is Mud” are on the record. These songs have been burned into my memory because they also were memorable videos. That doesn’t cheapen the musical complexity of this stuff. It is thunderous and adventurous. These are not jingles you sing along with, they are little opuses usually climaxing in a chaotic headbanging manner after you are bounced exhaustively around by the ridiculously busy bass playing of Claypool and the bizarre guitar solos of Larry LaLonde.

This is a great place to start, but after you grab this, start buying the other records, like Sailing the Seas of Cheese and Pork Soda. Antipop, the last studio record, which is represented by “Coattails of a Deadman,” was a little different in that Claypool and his mates collaborated with a bunch of folks they loved, like Stewart Copeland and Tom Morello. That album was good, but I wouldn’t recommend it until you have sampled the other stuff. Zingers is a good place to start for the newbie, but there is so much more to this demented little treasure. Happy hunting.

~R. David Smola