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Les Claypool

Fancy

Prawn Song Records

Image - Fancy Cover

Odd is as accurate an adjective as any to describe the idiosyncratic Primus front man's latest side project, Fancy, and the 15 psychedelic, funkadelic and all-the-way live cuts it produced from a summer 2006 tour in support of his solo album Of Whales and Woe. Arguably, one of bass guitar's deftest players, Les Claypool continues to assert the bass more so as a melodic lead instrument (through a mix of full-bodied strumming, finger tapping riffs, and Larry Graham's slap technique). Hardly a stranger to deadpan storytelling, Claypool's comical tunes are anchored in Rick James-style grooves, punctuated by Weird Al's wit and channeled through with Popeye's accent.

Backed by Gabby La La on sitar, ukulele and theremin, Skerik (formerly of Critters Buggin) on saxophone, and Mike Dillon on vibraphone and marimba (also from from the aforementioned band and Claypool's Fearless Flying Frog Brigade), in addition to Paulo Baldi on drums, Claypool's current entourage of unconventional rock music instruments makes for a sound as quirky as vintage B-52s.

"We don't ... play any of that crap," Claypool quips, teasing the audience with bass riffs from Primus's "Jerry Was a Race Car Driver," his bone-straight bob disguised under Robbie Rotten's hardened mullet, one of numerous masks, wigs, and demonic getups he and the band don throughout the video. "That's what you call satanic music ... we don't play satanic music here in the Fancy band." Instead, he engages the pit of eager bobbing silhouettes in "Holy Mackerel," a lighter funk tune, "more of a satanic junior," he enthuses.

The video follows Claypool and band in concert over four states and is shot by a handful of devoted fans with surprisingly intimate ambiance -- part Blair Witch, part American Movie, and a smidgen of This is Spinal Tap. Although the production is not slick, the picture sometimes distorted and the acoustics a bit off, these flaws are in fact what make the video enjoyable, playing as comfortably on the car stereo as on the DVD.

Les Claypool: www.lesclaypool.com