I had the opportunity the other day to listen to Primus for the first (technically second, but who's that picky?) time. The CD was a collection of greatest hits, or something of that nature, and though lots of things struck me about the music, the first was probably... how democratic it was. Throughout every song I listened to, the instruments appeared to play an equal role in the creation of the music. The lead guitar wasn't actually "in the lead" as in "in the foreground" while all else is in the background. Rather, the drums, the bass, the electric guitar, they were all allowed an equal share in the presentation, without any one instrument being designated solely to the background (which I greatly appreciated, because the bass player, Les Claypool, is amazing).
This idea of democratic music reminds me of John Cage's democratic approach to sounds in general. All sounds are created equal. No one sound is more fit to be music than any other sound. All has potential to be music. A bit more extreme in its context, true, but I've a feeling Primus might agree with that.
The friend who introduced me to this band made the comment as we listened to the CD that he was somewhat disappointed that he had gotten their greatest hits collection, because it gives one a different experience of the band's music. I hadn't thought of that, but I have to agree. Picking the songs which someone out there deems best and compiling them into a CD of their own might serve to give the "highlights," but I don't think the Spark Notes version ever really does the novel justice. And besides, songs compiled onto an album such as this are taken out of context. Perhaps they weren't made to be played together, or in this certain sequence. It's just not the same.
So, to truly get this "experience," I decided to get one of their CDs from the library. I happened upon Sailing the Seas of Cheese, which, if anything, was worth checking out for the title and cover art alone. Then, come to find out, Les Claypool has led a bunch of side projects with just if nifty, if not better names, including, Les Claypool and the Holy Mackerel, Fearless Flying Frog Brigade, Oysterhead and Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains. And his newer release, Whales of Woe, came out under the moniker "Les Claypool and His Fancy Band." This one's supposed to incorporate everything from the saxophone to the sitar (perhaps the coolest looking instrument I've ever seen, by the way).