Les Claypool’s Duo De Twang – Four Foot Shack

Duo De Twang
Les Claypool and Bryan Kehoe
Duo De Twang

Review by Jason Guest

ATO Records

Les Claypool, debaser of basses, cheesy seas sailor, chronicler of fishermen, sipper of sowbelly soda, head honcho of an audacious anuran army, one-third mollusc, drinker with the devil, and all-round loon has nothing better to do but team up with fellow loon Bryan Kehoe (of M.I.R.V., Ministry, and other Claypool projects), sit on the front porch with nowt but a bass, a guitar, and a mini-tambourine-doohickey – whatever the hell that is – and churn out rootsy Americana versions of traditional toons, crowdpleasing covers, and prized Primus paeans. So, twang it is.

Of all of the tracks, you’d think that Jerry Reed’s ‘Amos Moses’ would be the sole track that was made for the twang, but no. Getting the first taste of the duo’s moonshine stomp, ‘Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver’ – a track that they refused to play live for a while – and later ‘Jerry Was A Race Car Driver’ (a Hendrix melody spread into the jam in the latter half of the track), Claypool’s cartoon lyrics and LaLonde’s diminished fifth melodies are transformed into hillbilly anthems. The same goes for the Claypool tracks from his (many) other projects. While probably not as well-received as the eclectic and eccentric trio’s material, Claypool’s solo and band work outside of Primus shows a musician that’s got more to him than what that creatively-uninspired ensemble of the early 2000s lacked. And in stripping back all of the material as this duo do reveals music that is as almost as strong at its core as the Primus material. As for the covers, ‘Staying Alive’ is just hilarious, ‘Man In The Box’ puts the hick back into flannel shirt, and ‘Battle Of New Orleans’ will have you taking drunken swipes at everyone at the Mardi Gras.

The last Primus album, Green Naugahyde, wasn’t great. It wasn’t bad either, but Claypool is yet to hit the highs – at least for me – that he did with early Primus. So yep, Four Foot Shack is a novelty. And in retaining all of that cartoon flavour that is his trademark, this compilation will soon have you yodelling with the yokels, squealing like a pig, and sipping endlessly on moonshine while you dance under the stars. Primus Unplugged always was a good idea. I wonder if they do requests. There are a few more tracks I’d like to hear given the twang…

7.5 out of 10

Duo De Twang - Four Foot Shack

Track listing:

  1. Four Foot Shack (Les Claypool)
  2. Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver (Primus)
  3. Amos Moses (Jerry Reed)
  4. Red State Girl (Les Claypool)
  5. The Bridge Came Tumblin’ Down (Stompin’ Tom Connors)
  6. Boonville Stomp (Les Claypool)
  7. Stayin’ Alive (Bee Gees)
  8. Rumble of the Diesel (Les Claypool)
  9. Pipe Line (The Chantays)
  10. Buzzards of Greenhill (Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade)
  11. Hendershot (Les Claypool)
  12. Man in the Box (Alice in Chains)
  13. D’s Diner (Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade)
  14. Battle of New Orleans (Johnny Horton)
  15. Jerry Was a Race Car Driver (Primus)