December 16, 2006

Music DVD Review: Primus - Blame it on the Fish

Primus is a band that defies definition. This three piece has always sought their own direction. Throughout their career, they have always played along the fringe, occasionally approaching mainstream popularity, but always retreating to the comfort of their artistic expression and the welcoming arms of the Primus faithful. Blame it on the Fish continues to exemplify their odd sensibilities while simultaneously paying tribute to their music. The DVD is best described by the line on the back of the case "An abstract look at the 2003 Primus Tour de Fromage."

Ever wonder what it would be like to go on tour with Les Claypool, Larry Lalonde, and Tim Alexander? Wonder no longer, or perhaps continue to wonder, you will leave this rockumentary feeling one way or the other. It is anything but a straightforward look at the trio that have carved out a lasting mark on the musical world. The 70 minute program gives you a look at weird stage outfits, a Les of the future, live music, music video clips, and more in a mish mash of mixed footage quality, interviews, and whatever else director Matthew Powers wants you to see. What you won't get is poor camcorder footage of the band joking around slapped together for the fans. This was put together with love.

While this is a tour DVD, you won't get much in the way of complete songs. What you do get are some enlightening interviews about the reunion of the original three, backstage warm up footage, soundcheck and live footage mixed together, and a lot of randomness. In short, it is a little slice of brilliance. They are weird just by being, it doesn't strike me as anything put on, or any attempt to play to the fringe, they just believe in the music and relationship it can have with image. The two elements are equal partners in this near two decade long experiment.

I was able to see Les live earlier this year, not with Primus, but seeing him work his magic onstage is an absolutely amazing sight. He makes it look so easy, and the sound he gets is unlike anything I have ever encountered. This DVD puts that magic in combination with the excellence of Larry and Tim and it becomes this unstoppable front of music and artistry. There is definitely a unique vision at work with anything falling under the Primus banner.

Blame it on the Fish is much more than a single documentary, there is what essentially amounts to a second feature comprised of extra footage not used in the main feature. This runs for another hour and gives you more performance footage, interviews, and other randomness, pieced together in a less hallucinogenic style. This is called Fish On, and is just as worthy of the time as the main film.

There is one last feature on the disk, which has the oddest bookending gimmick of the bunch. It is called Primus 2065, and it features Les Claypool of the future reminiscing on this thing he was involved with called Primus. This is a little odd, but it also covers a larger timeframe than just the 2003 tour. Les links together old and current interviews, live and video footage, into something of a career retrospective from inception to present day. It is a clever 30 minutes, keeps up the odd sensibilities of the band, and gives some interesting history on the band.

Bottomline. This DVD is presented in beautiful fashion, the colors are vibrant, the sound a joy to hear. Everything comes together to deliver a Primus DVD in a fashion that you would expect from Primus. It is irreverent, and interesting, both sonically and visually. The only thing I would have liked would be complete live performances, but even without that, this is a must for a Primus fan.

Highly Recommended.


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