Tales from the Punchbowl
After infiltrating the mainstream with 1993’s Pork Soda, Primus crashed into modern rock radio with 1995’s Tales from the Punchbowl. “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” is arguably the strangest song to become a chart hit; it blended influences from Jerry Reed, Stanley Clarke, and Public Image Ltd. and became one of the most swinging singles of the '90s. The song’s massive crossover success brought attention to Primus’ most ambitious and cohesive album to date. Infused with a juicy, reverb-laden sound, Tales from the Punchbowl is as colorful and energized as Pork Soda was laborious and moody. Among the album’s most infectious tracks are “Del Davis Tree Farm,” “Mrs. Blaileen," and “Year of the Parrot.” The album was originally issued as a CD-ROM, and its cinematic scope is palpable even without the supplementary materials. The track sequence forms an epic narrative arc, starting with the locomotive rhythms of “Professor Nutbutter’s House of Treats,” slowing down in the middle with “Southbound Pachyderm,” and finally climaxing with the intrepid road trip within “Over the Electric Grapevine,” an epic in and of itself.