How exactly is one supposed to approach critically assessing a best-of collection? Since none are really designed to be a collection of songs arranged in a predetermined sequence that offer a glimpse into a band at one particular point in time, the options are numerous and spread out. Do you evaluate each song individually and then assess a collective score? Do you, assuming people are familiar with the tracks at hand, base your opinion on which ones were selected for the compilation? What about just offering a judgment on the band in question, since this is apparently the “best” collection they could’ve compiled over their career? I really have no idea. Let’s try them all.

Primus – extremely talented trio, centred around the slap-bass stylings of Les Claypool. While the tone of their material isn’t what you’d usually describe as “serious,” their chops certainly are. With these selections taken from their records released between 1990 and 1999 (with one track from the bonus disc to their 2003 DVD release), Primus has offered up a decent, concentrated selection of their output throughout their recording career.

Assessing the tracks individually, there really isn’t a lot to complain about. Fans of the band likely herald tracks like “Jerry Was A Race Car Driver,” “My Name Is Mud,” and “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” as crowning achievements. Still, on a “best-of” collection, shouldn’t all of the tracks reach that same plateau of excellence as these three zingers? I think so, but tunes like “Mr. Krinkle” and “Over The Falls” really don’t measure up in that sense.

If you’re assessing the tracks that were selected, it’s hard to classify a band like Primus via a best-of collection, as for the die-hard fans, each cut from each record has the potential to take top prize and hold a special place in their internal jukebox. Even in my limited experience with the band, I’d put songs like “Lacquer Head” and “Here Come The Bastards” above the good-but-not-great offerings mentioned in the above paragraph.

Now, assessing Primus as a whole is a different story entirely. One of the most original, musically-sound, creative, and interesting acts of the ’90s, the band is rightfully heralded as one of the more important groups to come out of that decade. So, for a band with that kind of (rightful) reputation, this collection comes up short of capturing their true essence. This is unfortunate, though, because maybe this medium just wasn’t intended for a band like Primus with such a deep catalogue as it was for groups who’ve continually put out records with a few radio hits that are otherwise forgettable. People looking to introduce themselves to the band might consult They Can’t All Be Zingers, but those with even a marginal interest in the band will already be familiar with these tracks and more interested in exploring the magic of the others within their original context.  [ END ]

Track Listing:

01. To Defy the Laws of Tradition (Frizzle Fry)
02. John the Fisherman (Frizzle Fry)
03. Too Many Puppies (Frizzle Fry)
04. Jerry Was a Race Car Driver (Sailing the Seas of Cheese)
05. Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers (Sailing the Seas of Cheese)
06. Tommy The Cat (Sailing the Seas of Cheese)
07. My Name Is Mud (Pork Soda)
08. Mr. Krinkle (Pork Soda)
09. DMV (Pork Soda)
10. Over the Electric Grapevine (Tales from the Punchbowl)
11. Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver (Tales from the Punchbowl)
12. Southbound Pachyderm (Tales from the Punchbowl)
13. Over the Falls (Brown Album)
14. Shake Hands With Beef (Brown Album Extended Version)
15. Coattails of a Dead Man (Antipop)
16. Mary the Ice Cube (Animals Should Not Try To Act like People)

Run Time: 1:16:10
Release Date: 10.17.2006