Music DVD Reviews: Review of Primus: Blame It On the Fish

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Buy your copy from Primus: Blame It On the Fish starstarstarstarstarLabel: Fizzle Fry, Inc.
Released: 2006

Primus is a beautiful, abstract mess trapped inside the musicianship (and warped sense of humor) of virtuoso bassist Les Claypool. Rounded out by the seemingly effortless but kinetic skin-pounding of drummer Tim Alexander and the perfectly complementary guitar work of Larry Lalonde, Primus is a different bird, singularly fusing funk, metal and a whole bunch of other ingredients in between. Claypool’s incredibly distinctive, busy bass– and trailer park-inspired vocalizations – serve to further distinguish the sound of the band that went toe-to-toe with the Wyld Stallyns at the San Dimas Battle of the Bands in “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey.”

“Blame It on the Fish”is an inaccessible release, even by Primus’ standards; the DVD’s main feature is a collection of visuals, small portions of performances and interviews from 2003 – the year of Alexander’s return to the band after a seven-year hiatus – all thrown together in a single hazy film documenting “Primus Tour De Fromage.”

The tour in question featured Primus – on hiatus from about 1999 to 2003 – playing 1991’s Sailing the Seas of Cheese in its entirety and adding some of their other stuff to the set. If this had been a straight concert film, it would have been more enjoyable; instead, it’s a stream-of-consciousness hodgepodge that just doesn’t flow. The surrealism and incongruence of the piece may be disorienting for even the most devout Primophile, because the band’s music needs to be heard as a whole, not just in parts – the idea of cutting it up does the listener a disservice. It isn’t a total loss – you get to see Claypool wearing a variety of different hats and accessories and an interesting anecdote is dropped along the way – but the high points are just too few and far between.

The best part of the DVD is “Primus 2065,” a short film featuring “a look back at Primus” with Claypool (in makeup, as a really old man) telling the band’s story; it’s much more linear – and fun – than the pretentious main feature. Two stars for the short film, then, while a few interesting tidbits hidden amongst the ruins of the feature account for the other half star. Experimenting is great; consistent results are even better.

~R. David Smola