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Orbital's second album was released in 1993; it remains quite possibly their finest effort. Whilst 'The Yellow Album' seemed to be a disjointed collection of singles with some filler, and their subsequent work has veered dangerously towards self-indulgence and anonymity, overshadowed by the always-impressive live work, 'The Brown Album' (aka 'Orbital II' or 'The Brown One') is an integrated set of catchy, danceable, epic 'electronic listening music'. It works equally well as a single forty-minute chunk of driving music, and as a collection of individual songs.

The correct, full track listing is:

1. Time becomes
2. Planet of the shapes
3. Lush 3.1
4. Lush 3.2
5. Impact (the earth is burning)
6. Remind
7. Walk now
8. Monday
9. Halcyon + on + on
10. Input out

Although on the tape cassette version track two is called 'Planet of the tapes' (the two tracks are otherwise identical). The album was released in 1993 on ffrr records, home of Finitribe, reaching the top thirty at a time when the British public was becoming more and more receptive to esoteric electronic dance music. The previous year had seen The Orb reach number one in the album charts with the ambient 'U.F.Orb and for a time it seemed as if we had won.

Tracks 2-6 form a single, extended piece of music, whilst the first and last tracks are Steve Reich-esque experiments with overlapping loops similar to, but more elaborate than, 'Moebius' from their first album. According to a contemporary interview with Future Music magazine, 'Walk now' features the distinctive clicking sound of an Australian pedestrian crossing.

Whilst the album is of consistently high quality, 'Lush 3.1' and 'Halcyon + on + on' are the two immediate standout tracks, the former a piece of dance music that you can listen to an vice-versa, the latter an unspeakably lovely homage to A Guy Called Gerald's 'Voodoo Ray'.

The packaging is interesting - as with their first album, a blank postcard is included, with the text 'Fill this space'. The CD and tape booklets include odd graphics submitted by avid listeners of the first album. Unfortunately, we never found out what listeners of the second album produced, as Orbital's next album, 'Snivilisation', was much more professional and did not include the results. The Brown Album was Orbital's last release as an obscure, cult act; the strength of this and the previous album, coupled with the strength of their live shows, pushed them into mainstream attention as more than just an oddball Warp Records act (albeit that they were one of the few 'electronic listening music' acts of the period not actually on Warp Records).

The cover features the contemporary Orbital logo - a set of four crudely-drawn ovals overlaid on top of each other, and rotated by roughly twenty degrees - and the track listing. And a pair of kidneys.

Fellow colleagues, distinguished members of the press, ladies and gentlemen...

The Brown Album was released on July 8, 1997 by Primus, those classification-defiant guys you might know from such songs as "Wynona's Big Brown Beaver", "My Name Is Mud", and "Jerry Was a Race Car Driver". None of those songs are on this album.

He was the hero of the Bowery, a prince of lawless times...

In fact, if your familiarity with Primus is limited to their earlier works, such as Pork Soda or Sailing The Seas Of Cheese, you'll find The Brown Album to be a bit of a departure from their usual sound. Tim "Herb" Alexander had just left the band at this stage, to be replaced with Bryan "Brain" Mantia. Mantia's looser drumming style, combined with the band's dismay over their extraordinarily swift rise to fame, lends this album a much heavier feel.

She likes Burt in White Lightning...
Only two singles were released from this album: "Shake Hands With Beef" and "Over The Falls", neither of which is actually about masturbation. Both of them were not successful. In fact, this album would be their first since Sailing The Seas Of Cheese to not reach Gold certification, or one million sales.
You may have difficulty catchin' breath, when you hear my weighty name...
You know what, though? I say fuck that. The Brown Album is my favorite Primus album ever made, full stop, end of story, do not pass Go, et cetera. They sound less like three dudes screwing around with instruments (who still sound fantastic) and more like three dudes who want to play some goddamn music and still enjoy themselves along the way. This is the album they were supposed to put out. I didn't even really care much for Primus beyond the usual radio play tracks until I listened to this album. The Brown Album is singlehandedly responsible for me enjoying Primus.
Just wrap my wound in a porterhouse steak...

If you didn't care much for Primus before, The Brown Album has the potential to change your mind about them. Granted, it is a different sound from their previous works, but if their early stuff didn't make you get up and shout "THIS IS FANTASTIC" then you probably want a different sound in the first place. Les's bass work is, as always, a shining example of what one man can do with a simple bass guitar; here, it's much more composed. Their sprawling sound is still there, I mean, this is Primus we're talking about, but it's a sort of artful sprawl, like attractive party people draped carefully over your living room furniture.

You can get it all down there...
    Track Listing:
  1. The Return Of Sathington Willoughby
  2. Fisticuffs
  3. Golden Boy
  4. Over the Falls
  5. Shake Hands With Beef
  6. Camelback Cinema
  7. Hats Off
  8. Puddin' Taine
  9. Bob's Party Time Lounge
  10. Duchess And The Proverbial Mind Spread
  11. Restin' Bones
  12. Coddingtown
  13. Kalamazoo
  14. The Chastising Of Renegade
  15. Arnie
The he took a can of Ronson lighter fluid and he squirted it over the top of his head
And proceeded to light himself on fire
As he stood there glowing and said, "Remember this day"

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