Left Field: Jilly’s on Smack

A short digression on Rush, Ayn Rand and Middle-Aged Primus

By Vernon Felton

Maybe it was Rush’s recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that got me thinking about Primus; the two bands always struck me as weirdly similar: kooky trios singing about big, brown beavers or Ayn Rand novels or bitter fights between maple and oak trees…

In a music industry that supposedly promotes creativity, but is largely populated by straight-ahead outfits, both Rush and Primus stood out as unapologetically unique. Which also explains why so many people either love or hate those bands. Not a lot of middle ground here.

Anyway, back to the story at hand: Rush finally got into the Hall of Fame, making much of Canada proud, legions of D&D fans ecstatic, and prompting me to think about Primus which hadn’t, to my recollection, put out an album in years. Or, wait, I stand corrected: they released one about a year ago and just finished up a Fall 2012 Tour.

Green Naugahyde was Primus’ first offering in 12 years and is interesting in that it sounds a lot like old Primus, except older and wiser (as if the beast still slaps the bass daily, but also listens to a lot of NPR at night).

This video for Jilly’s on Smack, (a track off the album in question) is a good example. It’s full of the band’s funky rhythms and scratchy guitar, but it’s a hell of a lot more serious than their `90s era stuff. No pork soda here. But still wonderfully weird.