“Fancy” by Les Claypool

Artist: Les Claypool
Title: “Fancy” – Summer 2006 – A Fan’s Perspective
Label: Prawn Song Records
Release Date: 5/29/2007
Genre: Progressive Avant-garde Rock
Rating: 3.5/5

There is no question about Les Claypool being one of the more prolific bass players and song writers that the world of modern Progressive Rock music has known in recent memory. His experiments with Prog-Metal brainchild Primus only gave us a clue as to the unlimited levels of creativity the musician actually possessed. When Primus was on hiatus he gave us Oysterhead (with Stewart Copeland and Trey Anastasio) and Frog Brigade; these projects would enable him to secure a die hard allegiance and following from the fans of the “Jam Band” genre. When it comes down to it the idea makes perfect sense since the performer often is unpredictable and during songs they extend the piece into longer more intriguing musical adventures. “Fancy” is an interesting release in that the film was not professionally shot with several cameras positioned strategically across the venue but instead shot by a choice few fans. Yes, I said fans and that makes it all the more interesting because they know the music by heart and follow it along as opposed to some crew following what they are told is important during the set. The footage was then blended together to give you the full show and the music placed where it belonged from soundboard and audience tapes. While it seems like a lot of work and unnecessary time at that the end result is rather interesting and fun to watch. Having never seen Les perform live I was able to follow along with it and remain interested without any difficulty or distraction. The tour came from the shows that were supporting his last solo album “Of Whales And Woe” and as you might expect the larger part of the material would come from this release. It’s interesting when an artist pushes a new release that hard because some can get away with it while others scream for older material. Given the fact that Claypool makes so many of his shows available he seems to be able to deliver a full concert of almost entirely new music to the fans without any visible problem. When the film pans to the crowd you see them going crazy so in my view this means that they did not mind the new stuff at all.

The performance keeps you interested and its not only based on Claypool’s performance alone but also with the fine batch of players that he assembled for this tour. Joining him were Skerik on saxophone, Mike Dillon on vibes, marimba and percussion, Cake’s drummer Paolo Baldi and Gabby La La, a multi-instrumentalist. I enjoyed watching her very much as she was truly an interesting player and also the percussionist made the music stand out a lot more than I expected it to. As a group they sound very tight and together and as you watch you do get treated to every person in the group and not just a “Les” movie which is a plus. Too often releases like this focus on the main guy but in this case the other parts are as important to the final product and get sufficient representation. It would not be a Claypool DVD without some amount of weirdness so we do get various mask and hat changes by the bassist and even some of the band join in on the headgear wearing fun. If you are a fan of what Claypool does then this is a must have and if you enjoy interesting takes on concert videos then this also serves a purpose based on the way it came about. Performances from New York City, NY and Austin, TX are among the highlights presented for the viewer. Check it out.

Track Listing:
1. Up On The Roof
2. Of Whales And Woe
3. Rumble Of The Diesel
4. Long In The Tooth
5. Vernon The Company Man
6. Holy Mackerel
7. Phantom Patriot
8. Cosmic Highway
9. Filipino Ray
10. The Big Eyeball In The Sky
11. D’s Diner
12. One Better
13. Running The Gauntlet
14. American Life/Iwon Gal
15. Lust Stings

Official Website: www.lesclaypool.com

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