Primus & the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble
2014 – Prawn Songs
I had the pleasure to see this album performed live when it came out. The setup on stage almost looked as if they were performing in the middle of a cartoon. There were inflatable mushrooms, Oompa Loompas with oversized heads that danced around, and the whole band was in costume. This all took place around Halloween, and it was once of the creepiest, odd, and entertaining shows I’ve ever seen. The vinyl is great, but it can’t hold up to the live show. One thing that I really appreciate about this album, though, is the use of an expanded band, the Fungi Ensemble. Mike Dillon, on mallets, and Sam Bass, on cello, round out this album beautifully. When a band, such as Primus, has been churning out great music for decades with the same musical lineup, adding other instruments can shake things up and lead them in different directions. The use of cello and mallets on this album takes the weird tunes and arrangements and gives them a creepy vibe, which is perfect. For an album like this, where a set of tunes are being covered, there needs to be something unique about it. I am not interested in hearing a band do their best imitation of another band, I would rather hear the original. For a covers album to work, it needs to have its own take on the tunes. This album definitely does that. There are some nice chord substitutions and embellishments on the melodies that honor the original, but takes it to a supremely Primus-y place. This probably isn’t everyday listening, but it is great to throw on once in a while, especially when you have some people over that haven’t heard it. Definitely worth a listen!