Top 40 Before 40 Rock Artists - #26 - Primus

In my opinion, only Geddy Lee of Rush has a comparable technical ability as a rock bassist that Les Claypool of Primus has, and not only is Claypool a talented bassist, like Lee, he plays a multitude of instruments.

Claypool also writes the lyrics and is the main vocalist for Primus as well. I always tell people that if I was as good at ANYTHING as Les Claypool is at playing the bass, I would be a rich man. I don’t care if it was just being that good at picking up trash.

I fully consider Claypool to be a U.S. National Treasure, and it is a huge reason why I put Primus, his main band, but not the ONLY band / musical project by any means at #26.

For those of you who are just joining this list at this point, let me give a quick summary below:

  • In my almost 40 years on this planet, I have had the great pleasure of listening to a lot of music that doesn't make it to the airwaves, and a lot of these bands are some of my absolute favorites.
  • You WILL see some Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame bands on the list too, but for the most part, you are likely going to disagree with this list almost entirely.
  • I am sharing this ranking so that you get some insight into some great bands you may have never heard before AND for a little bit of a personal challenge to myself to rank these bands.

With that said, let's get to #26 on my Top 40 List Before 40:

By Gaston4419 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4341606

By Gaston4419 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

#26 - Primus

I remember back in the 90’s watching Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, and seeing Primus playing in a Battle of the Bands concert towards the end of the movie, and thinking (like Keanu Reaves), “Whoah! That’s awesome!”

I don’t clearly remember WHEN I started listening to or liking Primus, but I DO remember the fact that my first album of theirs was when my brother bought me Tales From The Punchbowl for my birthday when I was 14, I believe.

That album was probably the most mainstream album they ever did as they released a very comical video for the song “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver.”

It had a lot of subdued melancholy within the rest of the album though, and ultimately, I was not as big of a fan of that album as the 3 previous studio albums put out.

Frizzle Fry is probably the most rocking of all their albums, and Sailing the Seas of Cheese probably has the best songs to jam out and sing along to. 

Pork Soda has a lot of weirdness but ultimately great songs on it as well.

The albums that have come out since Tales From the Punchbowl have had a lot of changes in the stylings that Primus generally put their spin on, but I can honestly say that if you give them a FEW listens, you will be quite impressed.

It’s hard to really go wrong with Primus as they have such an incredible lineup of musicians Larry LeLonde on guitar and Tim Alexander on drums are the longest running and currently active members of the band. 

I personally think that these guys will be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at some point, but because they didn’t choose the pop-rock route, they will have to be voted in purely on their artistry and talent. Here’s to hoping.

I would put "Jerry Was A Race Car Driver", "Tommy The Cat", "To Defy The Laws of Tradition", and "Harold of the Rocks" in the conversation for the best rock songs to absolutely jam out to.

Those are only a handful to be honest, because I could name another 10 or more off the top of my heads that absolutely are fantastic rock songs, but those four are probably my personal favorites.

If you aren’t a fan yet, well, there’s no better time than the present to dig into their catalog and see what you’re missing.

Start with Sailing the Seas of Cheese and move into Frizzle Fry as I think that order will be more accessible for first time listeners. Don’t be afraid to check out other albums like the Brown Album and Antipop as well. They have some classics on there as well.

Once you get your feet well and truly wet, then you can move on to their newer albums.

And when you listen to a handful of songs, you might take a moment to just Google the phrase “Les Claypool bass player” and watch some of the insane things he can do on the bass guitar. Truly a phenom. Here’s just a little snippet of one such performance you may enjoy

Oh, and in case you aren't aware, the iconic theme song to South Park was done by Primus as well.

Similar Artists That I Recommend That Didn't Make The Top 40:

Incubus, Queens of the Stone Age, Kiev

<-- Check out #27 on this list or Check out #25 on this list → (Available Mar. 2, 2021)