Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Riddles Are Abound Tonight
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, R&B, Rock
Listen to Samples
Similarly Requested CDs
Les Claypool's 1994 side project is great stuff.
Kevin H. Dudley | Roanoke, VA (USA) | 10/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sausage is actually the original lineup of Primus back in the mid/late 80's when they were still going by the name at one point of Primate. That lineup consisted of Les Claypool (bass/lead vocals), Todd Huth (guitar, vocals) and Jay Lane (drums). But sometime around 1988/1989, Todd and Jay quit the band (Todd to raise a family, Jay to pursue jazz with the likes of Charlie Hunter) leaving Les to fill their spots with Larry "Ler" LaLonde (guitar) and Tim "Herb" Alexander (drums). They would end up gaining fame and fortune as the classic lineup of the quirky power trio Primus.
By 1994, Primus had just wrapped up their world tour in support of their 1993 studio effort Pork Soda which was their 2nd studio album and the band went their seperate ways to rest and pursue side-projects. Larry did some stuff with Buckethead and Tim did the very dark (and weird) band Laundry who released the album Blacktongue.
Les, on the other hand, decided to get Jay Lane and Todd Huth back together to give them a chance in the spotlight since he felt a lot of people didn't know that they were Primus before there was Primus.
The result was the very weird and dark 1994 release Riddles are Abound Tonight.
Basically, this album is the original songs that they played together as Primate, even going so far to cut a demo tape back in the mid to late 80's called Sausage, which is where they got their band name for this album. Naturally, their are going to be similarities to Primus due to Les' one-of-a-kind peudo-lead bass work and nasal vocals. But Sausage manages to have its own sound and not just sound like Primus which makes for a refreshing and different listening experience for Primus addicts.
First of all, Jay Lane's drumming style is much more groove oriented than Tim "Herb" Alexander's and a lot less over the top & orchestral. He locks into Les's playing but tries to play underneath Les to a certain extent and not alongside him. Jay is still busy, but he grooves more.
Todd Huth's guitar playing is even more bizarre than Ler's guitar work in Primus (if that could even be possible). He finds some of the most painful notes and phrases but manages to still make them musical and fit the song.
The album also as a whole has a lot more sinister feel to it at times than Primus. There is a lot less joking around to a certain extent and the overall mood is a lot more weird and darker. But, with Les at the helm there is still tongue-in-cheek humor to be found. Also, Les only played his 4-string bass on this album. No 6-string or fretless bass stuff to be found here, though he utilizes his whammy bar to really cool (and odd) effect throughout.
Here's a track by track breakdown of each track:
1) Prelude to Fear: This song pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the album. Les' bass part is busy but Jay locks right in for an amazing groove. Todd's guitar part is very busy and odd but works. Dark and sinister sounding with a very heavy chorus section that makes a nice counterpoint to the syncopated verse section.
2) Riddles are Abound Tonight: A bit slower tempo wise, Les turns in a great slap/pop octave bass part that is funky as well as atonal and dark. Jay spices things up with some nice ride cymbal work and Todd displays one of the strangest guitar parts you're likely to hear. Very funky stuff. The vocals have a somewhat menacing but quiet sound to them. One of the standout tracks on the entire album.
3) Here's to the Man: The heaviest track on the whole CD. Slowing the tempo down, Les thunders ahead with a bass line drenched in distortion. Todd doesn't really play a guitar part as much as he makes as much weird guitar noise as possible. The verse sections quiet down a bit as Todd takes a breather from the loud stuff. The lyrics are actually quite serious as Les is taking on the subject of kids and guns. Even darker than the 1st 2 tracks.
4) Shattering Song: A brisk tempo and some very nice drum work pick up the mood a bit. This is one of the more jam oriented songs on the album. Les' bass part is basically for the most part a brisk ostanato that he deviates from slightly for variety during the verse sections. The chorus section features a thunderous slap/pop bass part from Les and is very heavy.
5) Toyz 1988: This is actually the original arrangement of a Primus track off of 1990's Frizzle Fry called The Toys Go Winding Down. The Sausage version bears little resemblance musically while the lyrics are pretty much the same. This track finds Les playing a very twisted tapping part in between the verse sections. The actual verse parts find him diving to subterranean depths with his whammy bar. One of the weirdest songs that I've ever heard. The guitar is wonderfully painful on this track as well.
6) Temporary Phase: One of the more straightforward songs off of the album. This track finds Les doing a bass line that combines slaps, pops and strums into a wonderfully grooving bass line that manages to be a rhythm and bass part at the same time (like most of his lines). Todd Huth's guitar part is also more melodic and a lot less atonal than the rest of the album. The last minute or 2 of the track is more of an extended jam on the verse figure. One of the catchiest and more accessible songs on the album.
7) Girls for Single Men: A very weird song. Actually, it's not really much of a traditional song as a very repetitious groove over a frantic Claypool bass line. But it works somehow. Occasionally, Les will blurt out the line "Girls for Single Man" while the rest of the vocals are coherent and sometime incoherent ramblings courtesy of Les and Todd. Some of the stuff that they mumble throughout the track is extremely funny. The fact that this song never really changes from the main bass figure might test some people's patience, but I loved it.
8) Recreating: Les comes up with a crazy bass line on this one which finds him using his whammy bar on his 4-string bass to come up with one of the screwiest but groovy bass lines of his repetoire. The vocals are distant and very dark sounding. Jay Lane's drums are particularlly great as he locks onto Les' bass line like there's no tomorrow. No real chorus to speak of but they still repeat a brief figure heard at the outset of the song to break it up a bit. Todd's guitar solo is really screwy but it works.
9) Caution Should Be Used While Driving A Motor Vehicle Or Operating Machinery: Sporting possibily the longest song title in the history of music, this "song" wraps up the album in extremely odd fashion. Similar to the other track Girls for Single Men, this track finds Les repeating a quick bass figure throughout the entire song. Todd doesn't really play a guitar part as he seems to be trying to make some of the weirdest and delightfully painful guitar sounds that he can. In the backgroud, you can hear various construction machinery going about its business. While I don't know if this was the best track to finish the album with, it somehow works despite being extremely atonal and repetitious.
If you go into listening to this album not exactly expecting Primus, you'll come away happy. This is a very dark and weird album that is darker than even some of the weirder stuff off of Primus' album Pork Soda. There is a kind of sinister mood that flows throughout the album even when things get extremely funky thanks to Les' wonderfully spastic bass playing.
My main problem with the album is the production. This was recorded at Les' home studio Rancho Relaxo. At various points in the album, the guitar is mixed way up too far in the overall mix. Considering how blisteringly painful some of Todd Huth's guitar parts are on this album, this can be particularly jarring when you've got the album cranked on headphones and a guitar blasts your ear wide open like a musical razor. While this doesn't occur throughout the entire album, it is a somewhat troublesome issue that doesn't ruin the proceedings, but keeps the album slightly from being the sonic masterpiece that it could have been. But that's a minor quibble.
Overall, the album marks a great counterpoint to Les' output in Primus. The dark feel of the album and the much more groove oriented drumming of the underrated Jay Lane combined with Todd Huth's atonal guitar makes this album stand out. Les' fantastic bass playing is also more groove oriented as well. I would really like to see them get together again at some point, but they made it clear at the time of this album's release that this was just a one-time thing for them to have fun.
I highly recommend this album, but only if you like really weird & at times repetitious freak-out music. Primus fans who haven't heard this album would be wise to check it out, as its truly different and a great album in its own right.
Just to be different...
Rob Kamerer | Illinois | 03/29/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I've read several of the reviews that other listeners gave "Riddles", but I don't think they give the album a proper show.
Whereas most agree that this is a good album, opinions differ on who would appreciate it. I agree that this album is darker than usual Primus/Claypool on whole, but I don't believe that this album is too much different from Tales From the Punchbowl. Just remove "De Anza Jig" and "Wynona's Big Brown Beaver" and Punchbowl could be vary comparable to this album.
This may not be his greatest work, but it certainly is not a bad album and not as evil as others say. I recommend it to those who are fans of Primus's early work."
This album almost killed me!
Travis R. Williams | Anchorage, AK | 06/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just turned thirty! If there has been one musical thread throughout my life, high school, college and now as a dad, it has been Primus. If I wanted to, I could easily define chapters in my life based on the most current Primus release. As a music major in college playing Jazz saxophone, I spent far more time practicing my bass alongside Primus than my sax. That said, for me, "Riddles are Abound Tonight" is hands down, by far, Les' greatest work. This is in no way a comment about Primus. I have room in my heart for more than one band. How did this album almost kill me? The first time I ever heard it was the day it was released on a portable CD player with a tape deck adapter in an 85' GMC Jimmy. I had been a Primus fan for a while and was not sure what to expect. When those first bass notes came through the speakers I quite litterally drove right off the damn road. I managed to save myself from disaster but not before freaking out my girlfriend who was completely oblivious as to just what it was that she was hearing. In fact, she fell asleep. I loved it. I had sausage all to myself for two complete back to back listenings on a long road trip.
I think part of what appeals to me about this album is that with Primus I had sort of been rebelling against my Jazz background, but sausage sort of embraced it in a way. In no small way due to Jay Lane. I wont write reviews of every song because I love them all. I will say however that when I read M. Casey's review of Shattering Song below I got a huge grin on my face because finally someone knows what I am feeling. At least 12 years later I still listen to this album all the time, I still hear new things and I still prefer to listen to it alone. It's sort of like my own little happy place."