Les Claypool & the Holy Mackerel / Les Claypool

Highball with the Devil

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There doesn't seem to be much reason for Les Claypool to release a solo album. As the leader and prime creative force behind Primus, he basically dictates the very sound of their records. The only excuse for a solo project like Les Claypool & the Holy Mackerel's Highball With the Devil -- or his other side project, Sausage -- is to give the bassist the chance to play with other musicians. On Highball With the Devil, he rounds up a number of friends and session musicians and places them in his home studio. In other words, it's an informal jam session. Fortunately, the musicians are uniformly first-rate and occasionally, in the case of Joe Gore and Charlie Hunter, simply stellar. When the group concentrates on jamming, the music is fine and even more interesting than Primus' extended workouts. When Claypool tries to make these jams into songs by adding inane lyrics and his skittering, mannered vocals, Highball With the Devil loses all of its momentum. And that is his main downfall -- Claypool can't help but sabotage his music with his weakness for kitsch and art-funk, and that's why his first solo album will only be appreciated by dedicated fans.

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