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Interscope presents
Primus—Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People (2003)

"Wynona's got herself a big brown beaver
And she shows him off to all her friends
One day you know that beaver tried to leave her
So she caged him up with cyclone fence
Along came Lou with the old baboon
And said recognize that smell?
It smells like seven layers
That beaver eats Taco Bell"

- Les Claypool from Wynona's Big Brown Beaver

Review By: Brian Calhoun  
Published: January 22, 2004

Stars: Les Claypool, Larry LaLonde, Tim Alexander
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, some adult humor and images)
Run Time: approx. 80 minutes
Release Date: September 09, 2003
UPC: 602498609422
Genre: rock

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A A-B+A- A

DVD Review

Primus sucks. At least, that is what any true fan would say. Perhaps the only band in existence that actually encourages their audience to chant these derogatory words, Primus has earned a just reputation as one of the weirdest bands in the universe. Love them or hate them (the band typically seems to be firmly divided into these two categories), there is no denying their musical prowess and their originality.

Primus is fronted by the inimitable Les Claypool, a virtuoso bass guitarist with a wide array of influences that includes The Isley Brothers, Stanley Clarke, Peter Gabriel, and Rush. Throw in a dash of Robert Fripp and Frank Zappa's freaky guitar styles courtesy of guitarist Larry LaLonde, and the manic yet precision grooves of drummer Tim Alexander, and we have a band that quite simply defies any known musical genre. While much of the gratification of listening to Primus comes from their unique cacophony of sound, it is their sense of humor that keeps their spirit alive. No matter what he may be singing about, Les always injects his droll brand of humor into the lyrics.

Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People, the latest release from Primus, is a two-disc set featuring a CD of new studio recordings and a DVD of music videos, live performances, backstage footage, and much more. While only consisting of five songs, the CD marks a refreshing return back to form after the enjoyable yet overly produced Antipop. Most welcome is the reinstatement of Tim Alexander on drums, who was replaced by Brian "Brain" Mantia in the late 1990s. While Brain is clearly a phenomenal drummer, it is now obvious that Primus is not the same without Alexander behind the skins.

The CD opens with the impressive The Carpenter and the Dainty Bride, which showcases Les on his fretless bass, effortlessly plucking away a complicated riff while Larry and Tim fill in the gaps with an aggressive assault of accents. The jovial Pilcher's Squad can best be described as a psychotic country western square dance heavy metal hybrid. I marveled in the brilliance of Larry's squawking guitar tone on this track, which may sound something akin to an alien pogo stick. Mary the Ice Cube is a dreamy, psychedelic tale of loss that finds Les in rare form. Who else but Claypool could emote about an ice cube he once loved but lost? The Last Superpower aka Rapscallion is a lengthy up-tempo number that features a fantastic bass riff with Les rolling off a quick succession of staccato ghost notes down the fretboard. The EP closes with My Friend Fats, a spacey jam highlighting the impressive talents of each member of Primus. This album is yet another ambitious undertaking from Primus, featuring a wide range of styles all interpolated with their unique style of musicianship and humor.

The main feature of the DVD is dedicated to the music videos of Primus. Every video from each album is featured, making this a Primus collector's dream. All of the videos are hilarious romps executed in true Primus fashion. Several standouts include Mr. Krinkle, a "one-shot" video showcasing Les in a 30-pound pig mask and a fat body suit playing his upright bass while a circus freak show travels around him, Wynona's Big Brown Beaver, which finds the band fitted into full-body latex cowboy costumes, and Southbound Pachyderm, featuring the latest in stop motion clay-mation technology.

Ironically, the videos are not the highlight of the DVD, but rather the extensive special features. Consisting of hours of rare live performances, candid backstage footage, and various other oddities, this truly is a treasure trove of Primus material. I doubt that Primus are going to generate any new followers with this release, but true fans are going to think that Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People sucks. I know I do.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: All of the videos exhibit a smooth and clean appearance. Color and black level are nicely balanced, and there is virtually no video noise. The concert footage is less visually desirable, though Primus fully warns the viewer that these clips are of bootleg quality, so there are no surprises.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The PCM stereo sound on the audio CD is fantastic. Compression is non-existent, allowing every tiny nuance of the music to shine through. Separation is wide and distinct, with Claypool's bass guitar gravitating toward the left channel and LaLonde's guitar leaning toward the right channel. Transitions between the high and lows are smooth and natural, exemplified by deep bass and crisp cymbals.

The audio on the DVD is somewhat less desirable, though also good. Most puzzling is the decision to present all of the videos in Dolby Digital 2.0 rather than the uncompressed PCM format. Nevertheless, the audio sounds better than many Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks, and it provides an adequate representation of the music.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Music/Song Access with 17 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
14 Featurette(s)
7 Feature/Episode commentaries by Les Claypool, Larry LaLonde, and Tim Alexander
Packaging: Super Jewel Box
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo Gallery
Extras Review: The DVD portion of Animals is divided into individual sections pertaining to each album. Each section contains the videos for the songs of the corresponding album, as well as special features from that particular era of the band's career. Selected videos contain audio commentary by Les, Larry and Tim. Les tends to dominate these conversations, with sporadic contribution from Larry and Tim. While not particularly informative, there are several truly humorous moments within these commentaries.

The following is a rundown of the other special features, divided by album title:

Suck on This and Frizzle Fry:

Radio Relics
This is an ancient copy of a live studio performance for a Stanford College radio station. Les apparently uncovered this long thought lost umpteenth generation VHS tape while going through storage. Included are terrific performances of To Defy the Laws of Tradition, Too Many Puppies, and Frizzle Fry. While dingy quality, this rare footage is a Primus fan's dream.

Sailing the Seas of Cheese:

Cheesy Home Video
Here we are given a candid and lengthy look at the life of Primus off stage. Included are band rehearsals, backstage clips, footage of the band fishing, and various other activities from their days off. This is a humorous video executed in true Primus-esque fashion.

Pork Soda:

The Making of Mr. Krinkle
Actions speak louder than words in this behind-the-scenes look at the making of this unusual video. There is virtually no explanatory dialogue, but rather candid clips of the crew and the entertainers set to Primus songs. This is an admirable glimpse at the creation of an impressive one-shot video.

New Year's 93-94
This live show recorded at the Henry J. Kaiser Auditorium features flawless performances of Groundhog's Day and Mr. Krinkle. Though the concert was clearly shot on video, it has been professionally edited and the sound is a pleasing soundboard mix as opposed to a muffled audience recording.

Woodstock 94
Woodstock 94 features performances of Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers and My Name is Mud from the Woodstock festival in 1994. While a disclaimer states that this is bootleg quality, the video is professionally shot with multiple angles. The sound is a bit muffled, but still sounds far better than a cheap audience recording. Several highlights of this performance include Les' bass guitar rendition of The Star Spangled Banner, and the band caught in a barrage of mud slinging during My Name is Mud.

Tales From the Punchbowl:

The Making of Wynona
This is another quality behind-the-scenes featurette, this time focusing on the video for Wynona's Big Brown Beaver. Primus music videos are always a load of fun to watch, and it appears that the making of the videos is equally as fun. Included in this candid featurette is a glimpse of how the band members were converted to human latex toys and the methods in how they achieved the fast motion effect seen in the final product.

Florida 95
Florida 95 offers a look at two songs from the Punchbowl tour, recorded in West Palm Beach by an "eager Floridian fan". While the picture and sound quality leave much to be desired, these are fantastic performances of Pudding Time and Southbound Pachyderm.

The Brown Album:

The Making of The Brown Album
This so-called "making of" is a disappointment, as it is really just an extended commercial. It never gets in depth about the actual making of The Brown Album, but rather merely shows brief studio clips of the band.

Kalamazoo Live
Taken from a performance on HBO's Reverb in 1998, this is a quality performance of Kalamazoo with admirable picture and sound quality.

Horrible Swill
This featurette offers a wealth of randomly edited material, including many live clips from The Brown Album tour. Particularly noteworthy is the band partying with Alex Lifeson from Rush, who is incognito as "Big Al", hiding behind a pair of false teeth. While Horrible Swill contains nothing outstanding, it is another admirable look at a day in the life of Primus.


Lacquer Head Live
This is the only special feature listed under the Antipop album heading. Taken from the Family Values Tour in 1999, this is an exceptional performance of Lacquer Head with excellent audio and video quality.

As if all of that were not enough, we are also given a section called Attic, which features the following:

This fantastic section is the Holy Grail for Primus fans, consisting of three rare clips. Featured are ancient performances of Sgt. Baker and Groundhog's Day with original guitarist Todd Huth, and the infamous "Yellow Sock" performance of Tommy the Cat, which found Primus performing a Be Bop rendition of the classic number. While the picture and sound quality of all three clips is far from desirable, the material is priceless.

Horrible Men
Horrible Men is another random featurette, proving quite similar to the Horrible Swill featurette found in The Brown Album section. Here we get to see Kirk Hammett from Metallica jamming with the band, Larry playing Eddie Van Halen's Eruption on stage, and Les running on stage in a giant chicken outfit during an Alice in Chains performance of Rooster. This 10-minute look at life with Primus on the road is not terribly revealing, but it is exactly the kind of featurette I would expect from these guys.

The Devil Went Down to Georgia Video
Originally offered as a CD-Rom extra on the Rhinoplasty EP, this hilarious version of the Charlie Daniels classic is performed by Primus with a little help from their friends under the pseudonym Festus Clamrod and the El Sobrante Twangers. This is not one of my favorite Primus cover songs, but featuring stop motion clay-mation footage similar to that seen in the Southbound Pachyderm video, it does prove to be a great video.

Also included in the Attic is a Primus Discography chronicling every album from their career, as well as a photo section filled with interesting and humorous photos.

Extras Grade: A


Final Comments

While it may not be a full-length album of brand new material, Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People is another top notch release from one of the world's most bizarre bands. Primus has gone above and beyond, particularly in the special features department, to provide quality material to tide fans over until the release of their next highly anticipated full-length studio album.

Highly Recommended.


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