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The Grand Pecking Order

4.2 out of 5 stars 113 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 2, 2001
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Oysterhead is a combustible union of three extraordinary musicians - guitarist Trey Anastasio (on hiatus from Phish), bass player Les Claypool (stepping away from Primus) and drummer Stewart Copeland (long gone from the Police, now an in-demand scorer of films in Hollywood). What began as a one-off show in New Orleans in May 2000 has evolved into a fullfledged artistic collaboration, and The Grand Pecking Order is the result. The Grand Pecking Order is a richly textured and wholly absorbing musical tapestry. You will discern familiar elements - Anastasio's brain-hosing lead guitar, the surrealistic vaudeville of Claypool's bass and vocals, Copeland's driving, syncopated drumwork - embedded in a larger matrix that is uniquely Oysterhead. The overall sound might call to mind the term psychedelic, but not so much in a retro Sixties vein as a full-sounding, future-minded way.

It's not difficult to see why Trey Anastasio (of Phish) and Les Claypool (of Primus) have a musical attraction to each other: they both revel in a balance of technical proficiency and head-spinning absurdity. Of course, Frank Zappa was a pioneer in this realm and you can hear his influence throughout. With former Police drummer Stewart Copeland on board as the third accomplice, Oysterhead pretty much wear out the lines between creativity and self-indulgence, between the clever and the goofy--a fact that is not at all surprising given the histories of Anastasio and Claypool, neither of whom are known for their self-editing abilities. Still, Oysterhead earns considerable points for the level of musicianship, originality, and sheer abandon of the project. And Copeland seems liberated by the setting, showing ingenuity and dexterity in driving these ultra-quirky tunes. In the end, this mix of clunky funk and decadent weirdness is maddening almost as much as it is rewarding, but The Grand Pecking Order has a sinister futuristic quality that is simply too peculiar to ignore. --Marc Greilsamer
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 2, 2001)
  • Original Release Date: 2001
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Elektra / Wea
  • ASIN: B00005OL93
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,376 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I wasn't sure what to expect when I first heard of plans for the Oysterhead album. I think people make the mistake of imagining that it will somehow magically be a combination of Phish's jamming, Primus' weirdness and the Police's catchy anthems. Part of this is true, but mostly its not. Approach this album like you would any other new band, because that's what it is - a new band. If you go in expecting The Police, Phish or Primus, you will be disappointed.
There are a few songs that do sound distinctly like Primus ("Shadow of a Man," "Army's on Ecstasy," and "The Grand Pecking Order" in particular.) Even then, they are still great songs.
"Radon Balloon" definately could have been on "The Story of the Ghost" or "Farmhouse." Once again, that doesn't deter from the fact that its a great little ditty. "Birthday Boys" is definately a Trey Anastasio tune, but with a little tweaking.
My favorite songs though, are the ones that have a flavor that is specifically Oysterhead. "Rubberneck Lions" is the best example of this (and the best tune on the record.) It utilizes all of the group's strengths: two unique and totally different lead singers, amazing instrumental prowess, and driving jazzy-rock rhythms. Everybody in this group has a great sense of rhythm and melody, which makes for some cool tunes.
"Wield the Spade" utilizes the brilliant weirdness of these three individuals. The best way I could describe this song would be "audio in liquid form." It feels like floating on gently rocking water.
The lyrics on this record are weird. That's not really surprising given Trey Anastasio's and Les Claypool's past.
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Format: Audio CD
First off let me say there are few people who are as big a fan of Phish, Primus, and the Police as I am. However, I felt this album left me wondering exactly how much I SHOULD appreciate these three incredible artists. I think my viewpoint of Les Claypool has totally changed after hearing this album. Ive learned that although he is an incredible musician, he has a pretty limited scope of musical range.
For all intents and purposes the songs on "The Grand Pecking Order" written by Les Claypool are Primus. I write specifically of the songs where either the music or lyrics were written specifically by Claypool alone, such as "Shadow of a Man" and "The Army's on Ecstasy." There is little to no difference from the songs he wrote on this album to what you might find on Primus or Les Claypool's Flying Frog Brigade.
You can tell Try didnt really know how to approach these songs.
To a lesser extent, the two songs written by Anastasio alone, "Radon Balloon" and "Birthday Boys" follow the similar scheme. These songs could easily be passed off as Phish songs.
I think Copeland is the only one who benefits from working with the other two. I think his talent is realized to its full extent, and you can tell he was challenged by working with Trey and Les. You can hear that his talent goes far beyond what was expected of him with the Police.
It is only on the songs written by the collective that you really see the potential of these 3 artists working together. All of these songs have incredible
compositions, and they gel together beautifully. It is for these songs that you should purchase this album. But the songs written by only one person in the band, makes you wonder if they have the ability to look past the scope of their own musical scope.
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Format: Audio CD
I admit, I was fanatical when i first heard about the Oysterhead project. My favorite drummer, guitar player, and one of my favorite bass players decided to start a band. How cool is that?I immediately found a bootleg of the 5-4-00 show from the NO saenger and was quite impressed, despite some very obvious rough spots. Since that time, I've been waiting for what seems like forever for the release of the album.
Today the wait was over, I travelled to my local record store at 11 am and bought this album without even looking at anything else (quite unusual for me). I then found the first CD player I could and put this in. It is amazing how much these three musicians, whose usual bands (primus, phish, and the police) have such a signature sound, could create something with such a unique sound. You can hear definite touches of these bands in the songs, but they compliment each other in new ways. Claypool's heavy bass tone has forced Trey to play in a more metallic, yet still funky fashion. consequently, Copeland's drumming has reached new funky heights never reached with the Police (in addition, its awesome to finally hear from stewart copeland again.). the addition of copeland also brought new production values to the project. If you listen, there are all kinds of cool electronic effects, drum machines, etc. in the background that enhance the project immensely.
All in all this is an awesome project. Highly reccomended.
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Format: Audio CD
Here's a start, ask yourself the following:
1. Are you a fan of Primus, Phish, Stewart Copland (Police, solo projects)?
2. Did this album need to sound like the bands they are in?
3. Should this album have taken on it's own identity?
Many seem to think the identity of Oysterhead is based on the players previous work and to a degree that's true. Les Claypool in particular always sounds like Les Claypool. It's not a whole lot different on this CD although I think he is more subdued and more integrated in the mix than he would be in say Primus.
I don't see Trey Anastasio's work sounding all that much like Phish, again, he has his style and that's evident on this album but again, within the scope of the band it's well integrated.
Stewart Copland fares best in Oysterhead. His drumming is excellent and fits nicely with Anastasio and Claypool. There is a more subdued sound to "The Grand Pecking Order" than Claypool fans may expect. His vocals tend to sound similar but that has always been the case. That said, even the vocals are more subdued. Don't take subdued to be cautious or uninspired because this is a lively album filled with a lot of interplay between musicians. The songs range from pleasant instrumental to moderately hard rocking.
I agree with other reviewers that Claypool may not have a lot of depth in his songwriting skills but I still enjoy what is on Oysterhead. It's funky, slightly progressive and playful. It caught my attention on first listen and grows with each new one. It doesn't matter to me how close or far Oysterhead sounds compared to the respective bands of Claypool, Anastasio or Copeland, it works as it's own album. I heard it without knowing who was in the band and liked it, that's why I bought it. I'm not much of a Primus fan and not a Phish fan.
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