Monday, January 26, 2009

January 26: Oysterhead, "The Grand Pecking Order"

Artist: Oysterhead
Album: The Grand Pecking Order
Year: 2001
Label: Elektra/Asylum

Most of the time, when a band is labeled as a "supergroup," it becomes nothing more than an egofest with each musician attempting to "one up" the others and steal the spotlight. However, every once in awhile, a supergroup actually works. The later is the case when Les Claypool (Primus), Trey Anastasio (Phish), and Stewart Copeland (The Police) came together to form Oysterhead. Orginally formed as a "one off" grouping for the famed New Orleans Jazzfest, the trio found the combination too good to not hit the studio together. Their only release (to date), The Grand Pecking Order, is a masterpiece of musical fusion.

In reality, one would be hard pressed to fine three more dissimilar musicans. Copeland is an amazingly technical drummer who was behind some of the most memorable pop singles of the 80's. Anastasio is the voice and guitar behind the Kings of the "jam scene" and has been known to play the same note for minutes on well as single songs for nearly an hour. Claypool is, well, he's Les Claypool.

On The Grand Pecking Order, all three of group members seem quite comfortable passing around vocal duties as well as giving one another time enough to shine, while at the same time not obscuring the other two. Such a feat is rarely accomplished as well as Oysterhead has done. From outright rock songs, to deliciously funky grooves, and even some acoustic tracks, The Grand Pecking Order truly has it all. Furthermore, the band keeps thing catchy and quick, with only two songs exceeding five minutes (so you "non-jam" type folks need not be scared).

All three musicians give themselves to completely to the record that none of the songs on The Grand Pecking Order would really fit in with their respective "primary bands." MAYBE one could envision Primus playing "Shadow Of A Man," but that would be a stretch. It is truly a remarkable accomplishment that this fact stands true with three musicians who are in the upper echelons of their respective instruments and genres. It also speaks to how well the trio can adapt and adjust to the techniques and textures that each one of them brings to the band.

Supergroups tend to implode due to egos and the simple fact that most of the members simply cannot move away from their "own" sound to create a new sound with the other band members. Oysterhead defied this tradition and produced the masterful The Grand Pecking Order. These three musical giants melded their unique sounds and talents and together created a true musical tour de force.

Standout tracks: "Mr. Oysterhead," "Polka Dot Rose," and "Psudeo Suicide."

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