How many groups that rock one’s fucking socks off can a
single man form? Apparently at least four if that man’s name
is Les Claypool.

This time, slap-bass madman Claypool — best known from
Primus — rounded up cohorts Bernie Worrell (keyboards), Brian
“Brain” Mantia (drums) and Buckethead (lead guitar) to
record the funky The Big Eyeball in the Sky under the moniker
Colonel Claypool’s Bucket of Bernie Brains. Every highly
talented member of this band showcases his eclectic style to create
a sound that is truly unique, dynamic and musically inspiring.

Bernie Worrell, most widely recognized for his more than 30-year
collaboration with George Clinton, proves that he still has what it
takes to bang out jamming rhythms on the keys. Drawing on
everything from organ sounds to timbres that seem to have a home in
outer space, Worrell develops lush melodies, harmonies and
intricate solos. The sound is well established in the opening track
“Buckethead,” and throughout the entire album. Even
when Worrell abandons complexity for basic chord structures,
continuously strong elaborations provided by the rest of the band
give the triads an invigorating character.

The guitarist known only as Buckethead wails away on riffs that
are as wondrous as his identity and origin. In most songs, the
guitar melodies are sparse, but when they enter, the lines are full
of rich, thriving tones. Songs like “Ignorance is
Bliss” and the instrumental “Jackalope” give
Buckethead a chance to show off his speed and finger dexterity,
while still maintaining balance with Worrell and Claypool’s
underlying harmonies.

Through Les Claypool may be well known in the musical sphere for
his eccentric bass playing — this album being no exception
— it is his lyrics that really shine through on The Big
Eyeball in the Sky
. Many of the songs are drenched in social
commentary about everything from bulimia to the war in Iraq.
“There is a boy named Junior / Playing Uncle Sam / Got a
master plan / Like Vietnam / Don’t give a good goddamn about
Saddam / Gonna drink his oil right out the can / Look at him
go,” states Claypool in the song “Junior.” His
best lyrics, however, are saved for the title track, commenting
quite poignantly on the current state of media consumption and
demonstrating that his skills are not simply limited to the

Solidified by Brain’s tight, funky grooves on such tracks
as “Elephant Ghost” and “48 Hours to Go,”
the album builds momentum from the beginning of the first tune that
lasts to the very end. The body can’t help but jitter and
sway as the music infiltrates the brain, leaving the mouth
salivating for more 21st century-funk mastery from the Colonel and
his men.


Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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