This is Les Claypool’s first solo DVD charting various shows from his recent US tour. Claypool is the founder and lead singer/bassist of funk metal loons Primus. His solo work is in places similar to his work with Primus, but has less of a metal influence. If you’ve never listened to Primus or Les Claypool it’s something quite different. Claypool has an instantly recognisable voice, with a nasal southern drawl, which at first is a little strange but when combined with the funk metal odyssey he creates in his music fits entirely into place.
The other distinguishing musical trait is Claypool’s bass playing. He is certainly one of the best bass players in the world, and has such a unique sound that it is pure funk. He plays bass like no other person I have seen before. Using pretty much every picking and slapping technique there is, he makes the sort of music that is impossible to replicate and,therefore, is in a league of his own.
On this solo jaunt which was filmed in New York, Cleveland and Austin, Texas over the course of last year, he is backed by his band which consists of former Cake drummer Paulo Baldi ; Gabby La La on sitar and various other stringed instruments Gabby La La ; Mike Dillon on percussion and devil mask-wearing saxophonist Skerik. This band and these instruments alone indicate that is not some acoustic side project for Claypool to fill in the years after his main band. Having said that I have never heard a guy playing a xylophone or a women playing a sitar rock so hard and that’s what makes this unique and wonderful.
Claypool makes sounds that I didn’t even know were possible on a bass guitar, and to top it all off, he even plays a bass-banjo. If you can’t love a man with a bass-banjo you are not worthy of having ears or an opinion. And, yes, he does a little version of the banjo song from ‘Deliverance’.
Does it get any better than that ? No, I think is the answer.
With many of the songs coming from Claypool's most recent album, ‘Of Whales and Woe’ including the title track, ‘Phantom Patriot’ and ‘Filipino Ray’ they all get a great reaction from the crowd. The live setting gives a great platform to show Claypool’s almost cult appeal as you can feel how everyone present hangs on his every word both during the songs and in the between song banter. Some of the highlights come in some of his earlier solo work such as ‘Holy Mackerel’ which he performs dressed in his best Elvis wig. This really gets the crowd jumping around to the funky madness that is in front of them.
Claypool’s incredibly diverse and unique sound does take some people a while to get their head round, but if you are adventurous with your musical tastes, or a bass player for that matter, you could not help but be amazed by the sounds created by this man. Truly a master of his craft and undoubtedly as inspiring as he is insane.