The Plague That Makes Your Booty Move...It's The Infectious Grooves

Infectious Grooves

Epic, 1991

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


Ah, the side project; the red-headed stepchild of the music industry. Instead of massive acclaim, commercial success, and truckloads of Grammy’s, the side project is often relegated to the status of a “Wait, who did this again?” While the occasional musical diversion has worked (Traveling Wilburys), more often than not, your Foxboro Hot Tubs or Chris Gaines are tossed aside as middling efforts, stopgap releases while the artist buys more time to deliver the next hit record.

What are often overlooked are the motivations behind the recording of such albums. It is not a terribly hard concept to grasp; musicians can get bored just like their adoring fan bases. When that happens, what else is there to do but try something different? It might work or it might fail outright, but that doesn’t make the project any less the effort if it sparks the creative juices.

Infectious Grooves spawned from the thrash metal group Suicidal Tendencies, apparently out of a simple desire to break format and play with all the tools at the band’s disposal while dispensing a little humor along the way. Frontman Mike Muir brought along ex-members of Jane’s Addiction and Excel, as well as Robert Trujillo, the bassist for Tendencies at the time and future Metallica bassist. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Instead of continuing with Suicidal Tendencies’ hardcore metal approach, Muir and Trujillo switched gears completely and shifted towards funk metal. In an era when the Red Hot Chili Peppers had yet to break out as the preeminent funk band, The Plague That Makes Your Booty Move...It's The Infectious Grooves foreshadowed the changes there were to come shortly thereafter.

The unquestioned star of the album is Trujillo. While he is surely known by millions in the present day as Metallica’s bassist, his work had been limited to one studio album thus far. Infectious Grooves shows a completely different side to Trujillo and is easily the album that affirms his musical chops. His playing falls somewhere in between the minimalism of a Flea and the quirky, off-kilter quality of a Claypool, residing securely in the funk of the ‘70s.

Funk has always proven to be a difficult genre to analyze for it is fundamentally very different from its brothers. Lyrically and musically, the focus is less on telling a coherent story with some sort of deeper meaning and more on finding a groove and exploiting every inch of it. Within seconds on The Plague, Infectious Grooves taps into that old school funk and for the most part refuses to let go.

Given the pedigree of the band members, the metal contingent of Infectious Grooves is allowed to also take center stage on occasion. “Therapy” features a massive chugging riff, propped up by vocals from the Prince Of Darkness himself, Ozzy Ozbourne. “I’m Gonna Be King” slides smoothly into groove metal, the kind that metal fans criticized Pantera for over and over.

The aforementioned humor quotient comes close to killing the album at various points. Four of the 16 tracks feature a jive-talking lizard character named Sarsippius, who apparently would be utilized for the following Tendencies albums. Muir might have found the idea of a lizard trying to enter a closed session funny, but he was sorely mistaken. None of the comic bits are longer than two minutes, but regardless, there is no need for their inclusion.

Infectious Grooves may not have reached the level of Suicidal Tendencies, but by no means should that be taken as a statement of inferior quality. This side project shows off a different creative facet for talented musicians, and as far as I’m concerned, it paid off.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2009 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Epic, and is used for informational purposes only.