Sound — 9
I've heard many say that this is Primus's worst album. This is one of my favorites, though. I remember walking through the music section of my local bookstore after helping with some Christmas Wrapping. I saw this album and said "Hey! I've heard talk that Primus is pretty cool, I'll have a go at them and pick this record up". Boy was I glad I did. I fell in love with Tales From the Punchbowl. Not right away though. It had to grow on me a bit. As with other Primus albums, Tales from the Punchbowl seems as though it is coming from a band of another genre. Primus still has it's distinctive style on this record, but as for the genre, this album seems to be aimed torward a more psychadelic feel. Actually, Wynona's Big Brown Beaver is more like Country, but like with other Primus albums, it's a kind of mix between genres. Basslines are off the hook once again. My favorite basslines on this record belongs to the track "Mrs. Blaileen". Nice use of strumming =. I love the bass tone on this track. One thing that I like about Les Claypool is that he can make basslines fit with different genres. Good examples of this are Over the Electric Grapevine, Wynona's Big Brown Beaver, Professer Nutbutter's House of Treats, and Del David Tree Farm. Guitar! Larry's unique (though Zappa influenced) guitar playing shines in Tales From the Punchbowl. He knows when to stay quiet, and when to jam out and really let loose. Good examples of this can be found on the tracks "Wynona's Big Brown Beaver", "Mrs. Blaileen", and "Southbound Pachyderm". I wish I could get Larry's tone. I know next to nothing about drumming, but I like how Time Alexander knows how to use his big kit. The drums make the songs on this record really come alive and add variety. Good examples are: Year of the Parrot, Glass Sandwhich, and Southbound Pachyderm.
Lyrics — 7
This being my first Primus album, Claypool's odd sense of humor and writing style did strike me as being odd. I mean "Wynona's got a big brown beaver and she shows him off to all her friends"? That screams odd to me, but I learned to love it. Les's writing varies as always. Some tracks are fairly literal, while some have a deeper meaning, or so it appears, hidden under basic, strightforward, writing. Les Claypool's voice can get a bit annoying. One track that I particularly do not like Les's vocals on is "De Anza Jig". His voice cracks once or twice there too.
Overall Impression — 9
Some people say this is one of their least favorite Primus albums. I personally love this album. It's a different style for Primus, especially considering their previous 3 albums--excluding Suck on This (Frizzle Fry, Sailing The Seas Of Cheese, and Pork Soda). Nice to listen to on long car rides and when just sitting back doing nothing. Impressive tracks from the album. I've stated my favorite ones up there as examples of where the album shines. Not to say that the other songs are bad. The ones I've mentioned, though, really stick out. I love how Primus shows that you can have a band in which everyone shows control and expression over their instruments. Les Claypool, Larry LaLonde, and Tim Alexander each have their spotlight on Tales From the Punchbowl and know when to shine or stay in the shadows for a while. They really seem to know when to hold back to make a song sound better. Many other bands seem to not now when to break loose and when to be a bit more reserved. If it was stolen. I would indeed buy another one. Great record from Primus!