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Published: 2005/12/12
by Jeremy Sanchez

Les Claypool- 5 Gallons of Diesel

In the world of live music there isn’t a lot that’s more fun or intriguing than getting lost in Mr. Les Claypool’s borders. Portals into his insanity appear under many guises, the most famous being Primus, but then there’s Sausage, Holy Mackerel, the star-packed Oysterhead (featuring Trey Anastasio and Stuart Copeland), the Frog Brigade lineups, and the noisy ride (thanks to Buckethead and Bernie Worrell) of Colonel Claypool’s Bucket of Bernie Brains. No matter the door you take, Claypool is always there to steer the story with his completely distinguishable voice, unique plots, and an approach to playing bass, in various stringed forms, that is immediately recognizable.

Releasing a DVD to showcase his musical teams is something that I, a Claypool nut, would have only dreamed of until the scent of 5 Gallons of Diesel wafted through. While all of the footage isn’t the most crisp (most is fine), and all of the audio isn’t the best (again, most is fine) I’m happy for the glimpses into those performances I missed.

The Sausage (Todd Huth on guitar and Jay Lane on drums) section of the DVD holds the insane “Riddles are Abound Tonight” music video and a making-of section. The live video and audio on “Prelude to Fear” (10/15/94 – the Fillmore, San Francisco, CA) are less than professional lacking even but it’s from ’94, so we’ll give them a break. It’s still pretty cool to see on your television and have pumping through your speakers.

Holy Mackerel (Brain on drums and both Adam Gates and Mark Haggard on guitar) only has a live “Hendershot” (10/06/96 City Walk, Universal City, CA) and more would’ve been better, as it is with a lot of things, I guess. We at least have this goofy treat to show us where Claypool throve before a less rowdy and less apt to mosh fanbase took him in. The video is OK (daylight and outside) and the audio is acceptable, but the production quality increases from here.

What’s the deal with the Oysterhead (Trey Anastasio on a guitar that has a set of theremin-like antlers and Stewart Copeland on various percussion) section? I can give the benefit of the doubt for the previously mentioned, since the recordings are older and not the best of quality. But, you know, this Oysterhead section is crisp and clear all the way through. I just don’t get why a live “Shadow of a Man” (10/21/01 Hollywood Palladium, Los Angeles, CA) is all that this trio decided to release. C’mon!

The Frog Brigade section features three arrangements of the Frog collective (Claypool and Skerik are in all three)Colonel Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade is lumped in with Les Claypool’s Frog Brigade and The Les Claypool Frog Brigade for a generous seven-song helping. I most appreciate the section from the first Bonnaroo, since I couldn’t make it out (“David Makalaster,” “Long in the Tooth,” and “Whamola” 06/21/02 – Bonnaroo Music Festival, Manchester, TN). Jimmy Herring makes a nice guest spot on “Ding Dang Buzzards of Green Hill” (01/08/05 Jam Cruise 3).

The Colonel Claypool’s Bucket of Bernie Brains (Buckethead on guitar, Brain on drums and Bernie Worrell on a set of schizophrenic keys) section has two decent untitled jam sections (09/16/02 Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, CA) and mosh ready versions of “Tyranny of the Hunt” and “Scott Tayler” (09/29/04 Roxy Theatre, Boston, MA). This could be the most unique offspring of Claypool’s dimensions, if not necessarily the best.

Under the heading of just Les Claypool (Jay Lane on drums, Mike Dillon on percussion, Skerik on sax and Gabby La La on sitar) is offered versions of “Riddles are Abound Tonight” and “The Awakening” (07/22/05 The VIC Theatre, Chicage, IL). Both tracks are worthy DVD closers and “The Awakening” is extra mouth watering a drum and bass dual that stands out amongst all the other tracks.

The bonus section has Les Claypool on bass guitar, the great Rob Wasserman on electric stand-up bass, and Jay Lane on drums, for “3 Guys Named Schmo” (03/05/94 – 1994 Bammies, Bill Graham Civic, San Francisco, CA) looking very early 90’s needs to be seen! Also on here is the music video for “Buzzards of Green Hill,” a making-of section and a recording-of section with Warren Haynes. As an oddball are two Fly Fishing With the World sections where Claypool is out doing what he loves mostfishing (2004 in Idaho and 2005 in Northern Quebec, Canada)! They don’t seem to have a lot to do with the rest of the DVD, but considering this is a compilation of Claypool’s side projects, it seems fitting.

This is a DVD I watched through a couple times without the nag to skip, and that’s rare. I basically just wanted more, although it’s actually pretty thick with material. Like most of what Mr. Claypool gets involved with, I like it.

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