Mandatory Metal: 5 Essential Primus Songs

Heavy music is full of legendary bands boasting deep catalogs stacked with iconic songs — sometimes it can be hard to know where to start, or what to consider their best. With that in mind, we present the “Mandatory Metal” lists, which collect what we consider to be the definitive tracks from various members of the metallurgic pantheon. Up today, Primus, those funk-metal weirdos led by virtuosic bass player and nasal-voiced mad man Les Claypool. Primus have a deep catalog stacked with must-hear bangers, but in our opinion, these classic cuts are their most essential. If you disagree, sound off on The Pit Facebook page.

“To Defy the Laws of Tradition”
Album: Frizzle Fry

For the first few bars, the opening track from Primus’ 1990 studio debut sounds vaguely like one of Metallica’s early instrumentals — until Les Claypool takes it into circus land with one of his trademark slap-bass grooves.
Sample Lyric “What if Christmas didn’t come this year/And no one paid for Christmas cheer?/Who would cry the biggest tear/The child or the store?”

“Jerry Was a Race Car Driver”
Album: Sailing the Seas of Cheese

Of Primus’ many character-driven tales, this 1991 single remains one of the band’s most distinctive and heaviest songs, thanks to Claypool’s video-game-like bass line and former Possessed guitarist Larry “Ler” LaLonde’s demented squalls.
Sample Lyric “Jerry was a race car driver/And he drove so goddamned fast/He never did win no checkered flag/But he never did come in last.”

“Tommy the Cat”
Album: Sailing the Seas of Cheese

Primus’ unlikely collaboration with chain-smoking piano man Tom Waits (who voices the titular feline) was also featured in the 1991 movie Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.
Sample Lyric “She knew what she wanted/She was lookin’ for that stud bull, the he cat/And that was me.”

“My Name Is Mud”
Album: Pork Soda

Claypool pounds out an ultra-rubbery bass line and takes on the persona of a drunken, homicidal gravedigger on this classic 1993 single.
Sample Lyric “Six-foot-two and rude as hell/I got to get him in the ground before he starts to smell.”

“Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver”
Album: Tales From the Punchbowl

Contrary to popular belief, this Grammy-nominated 1995 track is (unfortunately) not a reference to Winona Ryder’s nether region.
Sample Lyric “Wynona loved her big brown beaver/And she stroked him all the time.”