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Archive for the ‘Buckethead’ Category

dec15SOUNDTRACK: COLONEL CLAYPOOL’S BUCKET OF BERNIE BRAINS-The Big Eyeball in the Sky (2004).

eyeballAfter touring with Primus for a bit, Les met up with Buckethead, Bernie Worrell, and Brain at the 2002 Bonnaroo Music and Arts festival. Worrell, Brain and Buckethead were there to perform with Bill Laswell as Praxis, but Laswell was not able to play.  So Claypool invited them to jam with him and the Bucket(head) of Bernie (Worrell) Brain(s) was formed.

This is another fun jam band for Les with jamming credentials (Bonnaroo and all).  But the biggest change to the overall sound is the addition of Bernie Worrell on funk keyboards which adds a radically new dimension to Claypool’s music.  And Claypool plays along accordingly.

The disc opens with keyboards! (even a song that’s all about Buckethead opens with keyboards).  The verses are carnivalesque while the chorus are funky with Les’ wild bass and some good keyboards from Bernie.  Even though the guitars from Buckethead are great they don’t really stand out amid the music—there’s no room for showing off in this bunch (although his solo at 4:30 is pretty groovy).  I love the riffs (keys) at 3:00, it’s a great section and could have easily been a whole song.

I find that the more I enjoy the jamming music that Les creates the less I enjoy his vocals/lyrics.  It seems like his songs get limited when he starts using conventional (sic) verse chorus structure.  So I love the chorus that he sings on”Thai Noodles,” but the verses just don’t seem to fit with the interesting music going on.

“Tyranny of the Hunt” has an interesting weird riff, but the real highlight of the disc is “Elephant Ghost.”  I have complained that many of Les’ songs have been too long, but in this case, 11 minutes is just about right for this lengthy groovy jam.  It’s got the kind of melody that doesn’t grow tired after a few minutes and the soloing is really great.  It actually feels a lot shorter than some of his 6 minute songs.

“Hip Shot From the Slab” and “Junior” have that redneck kind of thing that Les has been playing with.  The backing vocals on “Slab” are a nice bright contrast, but I feel like he’s really getting hung up in this darker style of music lately.  “Scott Taylor” is another great instrumental.  I love that the main riff is a keyboard riff–and man is it a good one.  “The Big Eyeball in the Sky” is an anti-televsion song.  “Jackalope”is  a bouncing bass heavy instrumental.  It is the least fun of the three.  “48 Hours to Go” is a little dull, but the disc ends with the interesting “Ignorance is Bliss.”  This is a great change of pace with a cool violin/fiddle sound and good vocals.

Even though Claypool is ostensibly the leader of the band, I like these songs best when he take a backseat and lets the other guys shine.

[READ: January 21, 2015] “Savage Breast”

Now this was a weird little story.

It opens with a woman saying that the day was ordinary aside from her headache.  She was supposed to go to a party that night but didn’t feel like it.  So she took a nap instead.

But when she woke up she found out that the room she was in was not her own, but rather her childhood bedroom.  Everything was exactly as she remembered it–all details perfectly in place, including the view out the window and the clothes in the closet (which were her childhood clothes but still fit her).  Weird, right?  But even weirder was the fact that the other person in the house with her was a beast–a big hairy beast.  And yet, as she got nearer and nearer she realized that the beast was actually her mother–it acted like her, lay like her and behaved like her, even if she was totally covered in fur.

In fact, when her “sister” beast comes home, she acts exactly the way her sister did when they were kids.  And when her “father” beast comes home after work, he has the exact same drink that her real father always had.  It’s like a crazy flashback to her childhood, except that everyone is a beast.  (more…)

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 oct6SOUNDTRACK: LIMBOMANIACS-Stinky Grooves (1990).

limboSo this album was a favorite of mine in college (amazingly you can’t find very much about it online–I kind of assumed it was huge, but apparently only in my head).  Why does it fit here?  Because the drummer, Brian “Brain” Mantia is who replaced Tim Alexander on Primus’ next few albums.

The Limbomaniacs album is a big stupid funk rock album that is absolutely college age appropriate (if not terribly sexist).  It’s about sex, butts, porn, poop and getting funky.  You can’t play any of the songs on the radio: “Butt Funkin’,” “Porno” (which has a good riff) “That’s the Way” (which is much more vulgar than I realized) or “The Toilet’s Flooded” (with a great big ….).

The biggest surprise about this album , which is clearly kinda dumb fun, is that it attracted such big names to it. It was produced by Bill Laswell and has vocals from Bootsy Collins and sax from Maceo Parker.  This record must have come out before you had to pay for samples, because they seem to be sampling everything, most of it to good use–2001, Blade Runner, William S. Burroughs and Public Enemy.

Probably the best songs on the disc are the ones that are a bit cleaner (like they emphasized the music over the lyrics) “Maniac” with some good horn samples and quotes from Network, is fun and funky–catchy as anything and still sounds good.  “Free Style” is a fun dancey song (with a sax solo from Parker).  “Shake It” is also a fun song (to me it sounds like a college party–although I guess kids these days don’t listen to funk rock).

“Pavlov’s Frothing Dogs” has extensive samples from a William S. Burroughs story, which works interestingly well.

The little you can find out about them online suggests that the band was well-respected musically (but quickly disbanded after a lot of local success).  I find these songs to be rather simple in structure and performance so it seems hard to imagine them inspiring anyone.  And yet, Laswell is involved and immediately started using Brain on drums in his “supergroup” Praxis.  (The Limbomaniacs also introduced Laswell to Buckethead who was a friend) and Buckethead is in Praxis as well.

I more or less know what happened to everyone in the band.  Mirv, the guitarist went on to form M.I.R.V., but I’m not sure what happened to Butthouse the singer.  This album is a totally time capsule for me.  And the little voice at the end of “The Toilet’s Flooded” made me laugh like I was 20 years old again.

[READ: January 9, 2014] “Story, with Bird”

It’s fun to read a two-page story from time to time.  This story felt quite elliptical–a lot happened, but all in a rather quick way.

As the story begins, we know the couple’s relationship is about to end.  As a last ditch effort at staying together, they decided to give up drinking–but it didn’t really work (obviously).

The bird in the title is a bird which flew into their house.  She tried to attack it to get it out, but he used the more pacifist approach of turning off the lights and leaving the windows opened so the bird could leave on its own.  They fought about who was right, but his way did work. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: LES CLAYPOOL-5 Gallons of Diesel (DVD) (2005).

I’ve loved Primus for years.  And if you love Primus, chances are you love Les Claypool.  And Les Claypool has created and released music with all manner of bands since Primus broke up (they have since gotten back together and have planned a new release for July).  I don’t love all of his solo releases, but they all have something to commend them, and he’s made some great, unheralded music during those years.

This DVD covers the years from Sausage through to 2005.  At first I was pretty excited by the DVD.  The set opens with the off the wall video for Sausage’s “Riddles Are Abound Tonight” which is followed by a mercifully short “making of” video.

Then things started to go downhill somewhat.  The rest of the DVD is live, which is fine (Les live is a thing of beauty). It’s just that for many of the videos the quality is terrible.  The audio is also not ideal all the way through (that may have been my setup, but there were certainly songs that were much quieter than others).  Now I accept that there weren’t professional film crews out for Les Claypool’s Holy Mackerel tour, and that these videos are basically bootleg, but it  seems like they may have spruced them up a bit for the DVD.

Things change with the switch to Oysterhead.  I could have watched several songs from Oysterhead and I wonder why they chose only one.  This is a professional quality mix (although it is a little dark) and I have to say that the whole song is stolen by Trey Anastasio’s guitar thing.  It’s a guitar (called the MatterHorn) but during the verses of the song it appears to be a kind of theremin on the reverse side (with a full-sized antler sticking out of the bottom) .  He holds the thing upside down and waves at it to generate noise.  It was bewitching.

But Trey wasn’t the only one with a weird instrument. For the Frog Brigade set(s) on one of the songs, Les plays a “bass” which is just one string (called the Whamola). He hits it with a stick and changes the notes with a movable handle that he raises and lowers.  I’ve never seen anything like that, either.  Most of the Frog Brigade set is outside at a festival.  The lighting is good but the sound is awful.  In one song, the poor guy on percussion is banging away at various things and you simply cannot hear them.  Les also uses a secondary microphone (the Sandman–which has a great story behind it) but its volume is also quite low, which is a shame as you can’t hear him for quite a bit.

When Colonel Claypool’s Bucket of Bernie Brains the setting is an odd one (they appear to be on a cruise(?)).  It’s basically two lengthy jams, which is fine.  Buckethead amazes with his skills.  But the Bernie on keyboards, I can’t tell if he was screwing up or messing around during his solos.

There’s two more songs attributed to just Les Claypool, and this version of “Riddles Are Abound Tonight” is especially neat because there is a sitar playing the majority of the riff.

The DVD extras are fun.  There’s a weird set from a band called 3 Guys Name Schmo which is 2 bassists and a drummer.  The other bassist is miked very loud and it’s hard to hear Les (imagine outbassing Les Claypool!).  Then there’s the second official video on the disc for “Buzzards of Green Hill” (very low budget).  This comes with a making of the video video and a making of the audio video.  Both are interesting and brief, giving tidbits of info without overwhelming us.

The final two items come from an actual TV show called Fly Fishing the World.  I don’t fish, so I never knew this show existed.  But sure enough, there’s our Les going to two separate locations and fishing on.  The best part is that they play lots of Primus music between fishing (probably the most Primus music ever played on non-music TV), and they interview him as well (I didn’t know he had such cute kids). Despite my not knowing the show or caring about fishing, I found the whole program enjoyable and fascinating (and they catch and release as well).  It’s well worth the time.

So overall, this is a mixed bag.  There’s not a lot of video of Les’ non-Primus music out there, so in that respect this is great.  I just wish the quality was better.

[READ: March 25, 2011] “Life in Three Houses”

This is an excerpt from Suicide.  The introduction states that days after delivering the manuscript of Suicide, Levé killed himself.  I suspect that that is the main reason that this story was published here.

It opens promisingly and very interestingly in the second person.  The story tells us that you set off to play tennis with your wife, but you backtrack and go into the basement where you shoot yourself.  Your wife finds you moments later but misses the clue you set out for her (that was handled very well).

The rest of the story (and there’s quite a lot) gets confusing.  First off because it stays in the second person (even after death) but it also goes into apparent flashbacks.  Even more confusing is the addition of an I as the narrator.  An I who knows “you” but who was not present for the suicide so how could he have all these details?

The book is being published by Dalkey Archive Press.  It’s possible that the excerpts do an injustice to the full book, but I fear that I will not be reading any more by this author.

It was translated by Jan Steyn.

For ease of searching I include: Leve

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