Brown Album

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Brown Album
Studio album by
ReleasedJuly 8, 1997
RecordedDecember 1996 – April 1997
StudioRancho Relaxo, Sebastopol, California
Primus chronology
Tales from the Punchbowl
Brown Album
Singles from Brown Album
  1. "Shake Hands with Beef"
    Released: 1997
  2. "Over the Falls"
    Released: 1997
Alternate cover
Additional cover featuring the then current lineup of the band

Brown Album is the fifth studio album by American rock band Primus. It was released on July 8, 1997, by Prawn Song and Interscope Records. It was the band's first album with new drummer Brain, who replaced former drummer Tim Alexander. The album has received a mixed reception from critics and fans.


Brown Album was the first Primus release to not feature drummer Tim "Herb" Alexander and the first to feature Brain. Les Claypool stated "Herb's departure was like a marriage that just slowly decayed to an end ... When it came down to it, we came very close to dissolving entirely, to ending Primus. I went to Ler and said, 'Look, I'm not content anymore. We've got a good thing going between us and we should probably get a new drummer.' When we talked to Herb about it, he wasn't surprised at all--in fact he seemed very relieved. He's got his own thing now. He's writing and singing [with his new band, Laundry] and he's much happier."[2] Regarding the name of the album, Claypool said "This is a milestone record for Primus so it needed to have a milestone title. The Beatles have their White Album, Metallica have their Black Album, now Primus have their Brown Album."[2]

According to Brain, the album was called the Brown Album because of the way the band approached the recording session; the mixes were done in the most unconventional ways that sounded like a "muffled turd", hence the album title.[3][4]

Musical style[edit]

Claypool stated "Song-wise I think Brown leans back to Suck... or [1990's] Frizzle Fry". "It's a far more aggressive album than we've done in a long time. The differences between this album and [ Punch Bowl...] are far greater than the differences between this album and the very early stuff."[2]

The band decided to record and produce the album completely analog at their "rancho relaxo" recording studio in California.[5] This approach would be completely reversed on the much more accessible Antipop album in 1999.


In 1997, Primus toured with Limp Bizkit and Powerman 5000, who had both released their major label debuts that year.[6]


Professional ratings
Review scores
The Daily VaultA−[10]
Entertainment WeeklyC[8]
Rolling Stone[9]

In his review for Allmusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine contends that "the replacement of drummer Tim "Herb" Alexander with Brian [sic] "Brain" Mantia doesn't affect Primus' sound in any notable way", but also notes that the album "moves Primus even further into progressive and jazz-rock territory". In conclusion, he describes Brown Album as "standard Primus – all instrumental interplay and adolescent humor – but it's delivered with more finesse and skill than ever."[7] For Entertainment Weekly, Wook Kim describes the band as "in decline" since their "satisfyingly eclectic" early albums, noting that with Brown Album they "cross that thin line between novel and novelty."[8] The San Diego Union labeled the album as "flat-sounding".[11]

Tom Moon, for Rolling Stone, describes Brown Album as "precisely the type of weirdness that Primus have been peddling for years – progressive-rock instrumentals camouflaged in the tattered rags of punk and the absurdist narratives of a junior Zappa", although he notes that the songs "all wind up sounding the same... Galumphing processionals more notable for their robotic persistence than for their musical invention." He calls the album "more accessible" in the way that it "moves away from Primus' pet herky-jerky shifts of meter long enough to establish serious, straightforward grooves", but also "more accomplished than inspired" with an "increasingly obvious soul deficit."[9]

Oran O'Beirne of Yahoo! reflected on the album on its 25th anniversary in July 2022, describing it as showcasing "a unique form of psycho jazz, bass-oriented metal, and alt-rock psychedelia."[12] The writer added, "in hindsight, the band themselves regarded it a difficult album to digest, but there is a lot of magic between its grooves, along with a tremendous amount of passion and courageous soul that assisted Claypool and co in becoming one of the most highly regarded bands in the alt.metal/rock history books."[12]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics are written by Les Claypool; all music is composed by Primus

1."The Return of Sathington Willoughby"5:04
3."Golden Boy"3:05
4."Over the Falls"2:41
5."Shake Hands with Beef"4:02
6."Camelback Cinema"4:00
7."Hats Off"1:57
8."Puddin' Taine"3:37
9."Bob's Party Time Lounge"4:44
10."Duchess and the Proverbial Mind Spread"3:30
11."Restin' Bones"4:29
14."The Chastising of Renegade"5:03
Total length:56:54



Chart performance for Brown Album
Chart (1997) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[13] 34
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[14] 14
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[15] 99
US Billboard 200[16] 21


  1. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Brown Album". AllMusic.
  2. ^ a b c Interview with Primus taken from BAM magazine, July 11, 1997. Retrieved 2012-10-22.
  3. ^ Bozzio, Terry. "Brain in Conversation w/ Terry Bozzio on DC's The Art of Drumming". YouTube. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  4. ^ Mantia, Brian. "Primus Drumming with Brain". YouTube. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  5. ^ O'Beirne, Oran (2023-07-08). "'Brown Album': Behind Primus' Hyper-Cross-Pollinated Musical Innovation". uDiscover Music. Retrieved 2023-07-24.
  6. ^ "Primus Sucks: How 3 "Lazy Bastards" Became Metal's Most Beloved Weirdos". Revolver. July 8, 2022.
  7. ^ a b "Brown Album - Primus". Allmusic.
  8. ^ a b Kim, Wook (1997-07-11). "Brown Album Review". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 2011-09-24. Retrieved 2012-04-08.
  9. ^ a b Moon, Tom (1997-07-15). "Primus: Brown Album : Music Reviews". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2007-10-02. Retrieved 2012-04-08.
  10. ^ Crigler, Pete (2019). "The Daily Vault Music Reviews : Brown Album". Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  11. ^ PRIMUS comes jammin' back "wipes away memories of 1997's aptly titled, flat-sounding "Brown Album." The San Diego Union, October 14, 1999. Retrieved March 1 2013. (subscription required)
  12. ^ a b "'Brown Album': Behind Primus' Hyper-Cross-Pollinated Musical Innovation".
  13. ^ " – Primus – Brown Album". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 7, 2022.
  14. ^ "Primus: Brown Album" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved September 7, 2022.
  15. ^ " – Primus – Brown Album" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved September 7, 2022.
  16. ^ "Primus Billboard 200 Chart History". Billboard.

See also[edit]