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October 3, 2005 // UPDATED 1:58 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Michael Metzger
Michael Metzger

Doing more with Les

The musical oddity known as Les Claypool keeps circling the collective cranium, attempting to inject it with the willful weirdness of his various projects.

He's a gnat, uninterested in being the world's biggest star or even the best-known piccolo bassist. Claypool keeps darting in and out with Primus, the band that originally brought him fame and opportunities to foist his oddball prog-pop on us. Think back to their live debut CD, "Suck on This," with the lip-fluttering nuttiness of "Groundhog's Day" and the happy crush of "John the Fisherman," songs that pur/ed the intellectual anarchy of Zappa, the deep-groove psychedelia of Sly and the Family Stone and the white-boy pretense-artiness of Rush.

Just when we thought Primus might've finally sailed over the horizon on that sea of cheese, they returned a couple of years ago to release their "Animals Should Try Not to Act Like People" DVD. If you missed that one, it included all of the band's videos, including their antidrug spot banned by MTV for its drug references.

Claypool and company followed it a year later with the "Hallucino-Genetics: Live in 2004" DVD, a recording of the last Primus show, taped at Chicago's Aragon Ballroom. (As a youngster, I was almost thrown-up on at the Aragon, as I sat in a herb-scented haze watching Mountain do a not-so-good set of not-so-good '70s rock. Luckily, the person who barfed hurled next to me rather than on me. It was the highlight of the show.)

On "Hallucino," the band (reunited with drummer Tim Alexander) played their entire "Frizzle Fry" album from 1990. The set goes on for two and a half hours with a number of extended jams, obscurities and other slices of the Primus catalog before the band settles into its "Frizzle" set.

Claypool has also given us Oysterhead, a band that featured Trey Anastasio of Phish and Stewart Copeland of the Police, as well as Sausage, the erstwhile reunion of Primus (with guitarist Todd Huth and drummer Jay Lane).

Huth and Lane joined Claypool for his Frog Brigade side project albums "Live Frogs: Set 1" "Live Frogs: Set 2." This particular project wasn't a Primus/Sausage reunion; it had keyboardist Jeff Chimenti on board, along with jazzman Pharoah Sanders on tenor sax, Skerik (of Galactic fame) and guitarist Eenor (chosen to play in the band after answering an ad Claypool placed in a San Francisco newspaper). Lots of prog-noodles were to be found on these CDs -- witness covers of King Crimson and Pink Floyd (a 12-minute version of "Shine on You Crazy Diamond").

Claypool released a post-Primus solo recording in 2002, "Purple Onion," featuring -- guess who -- Jay Lane, as well as Eenor, Skerik and percussionist Mike Dillon (of Ten Hands). Then again, the album could be credited to Frog Brigade. The band's name is on the CD cover in a shadow cast by Claypool's name. Doesn't matter. From Primus to Sausage to Oysterhead to Frog Brigade, it's always been Claypool as the creative focal point.

• F Oct. 7, 8 p.m.The Quest,110 5th St. N. $20. 338-3383, www.thequestclub.com