Live Frogs Set 2

Band: The Les Claypool Frog Brigade
Album: Live Frogs Set 2
Best song: I am such a sucker for this album.
Worst song: Awesome. Awesome awesome awesome.

I had a frog as a pet for, like, one week when I was a wee lad. I was oddly freaked out by it. They’re pretty slimy, all told, and very very foreign. Their eyes come out the top of their heads, all weirdly. They can breathe underwater.

Nevertheless, while watching Life (one of the greatest TV series ever produced), frogs reminded me about how strange animal courtship and mating can be. Male frogs — and, lest we forget, frogs are more like the rest of the animal kingdom than we are — basically rape the hell out of female frogs. In this particular instance, the female tree frog tries to climb to the top of a tree, via various branches, leaves, etc. On the way, she accumulates, like, 10 different male frogs jumping all over her and trying to mate with her.

This seems insane to a human, but it makes perfect sense for a frog. The higher she gets, the more likely the weak frogs can’t get to her. So, only the really strong, awesome male frogs can get up to such heights. Therefore, strongest genes.

This is why attraction in humans is so fucked up. Our giant-ass brains have made it such that we find different things attractive and look toward one another in different ways. The notion, for example, of Kate Moss being a beauty symbol is simply preposterous. She’s waify. She couldn’t provide for offspring in any reasonable way. She’s not sturdy.

That goofy vampire dude from the Twilight movies is similar. He’s pale. That’s not well-adapted to anything other than staying indoors and moping. He can’t grow facial hair, a simple sign of testosterone. And strength.

Human sex symbols should be Burt Reynolds and Christina Hendricks. Virile and sturdy. I do not say this because I am hairy and attracted to curvy women. I say this for the good of the species.

Which is all to say that evolution and nature has little to do with Colonel Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade. Or, as it is known on this record, simply The Les Claypool Frog Brigade.

Les Claypool is well-known as the bass player and genius mind behind bizarro band Primus. After the band’s dissolution, Claypool enlisted various musicians to play in some jam band festival. This turned into a touring band, — Claypool even grabbed a guitar player who’d won a mail order contest — and toured with the band, playing two sets. The first set was generally covers of both Claypool’s former bands and of proggy giants like King Crimson and Pink Floyd.

The second set was Animals, the greatest Pink Floyd album ever recorded, non-Dark Side division.

I, of course, could go on for days about the brilliance of Animals, but Live Frogs Set 2 — and The Les Claypool Frog Brigade, in general — is a glimpse into the connection between jam bands and prog rock.

Musical genres have far more in common than the various fans like to admit, but prog and jam bands are very very similar. For one, the songs are neverending in both categories. Similarly, the songs tend toward storytelling, obscure references and the like. Much of Phish’s oeuvre contains odd references and stories, not unlike that of early Genesis records.

Of course, both prog rock and jam bands utilize a heavy dose of drugs. Boy, do they like drugs.

I’m no huge Les Claypool or Primus fan, but Live Frogs Set 2 is entirely enjoyable. It gives me the opportunity to listen to one of my favorite albums in a live context, complete with the little pops and scrapes that occur in a live setting. No, it’s not Waters, Gilmour, Wright and Mason. But, Claypool and Co. do a bang-up job of recreating a classic album in all its progressive, political glory. What an album.

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