After my run this afternoon I treated myself (pay day Friday tradition) to a Red Onion Jam Grilled Cheese and a bowl of homemade cream of broccoli soup. It didn’t suck. Of course, that just meant I put on about twice as many calories I had burned during the 45 minute tempo run, meaning I also now have to go to the gym and lift some heavy iron to burn off the excess. Oh well. That’s just the price I pay. Anyway, tonight’s gym listen is the ‘Chocolate and Cheese‘ album by Ween.
Okay, first, let’s address the obvious: there is a whole lot of under boob on this album courtesy of Ashley Savage.
The image topped Playboy’s poll of ‘The Sexiest Album Covers of All Time‘, meaning, as noted, she beat out a bunch of actual Playmates for the title. Not bad considering Dean and Gene originally wanted a gay sailor on the cover.
Thank goodness someone talked some sense into them.
Oh, and for the record, the back of the cover is pretty nice too.
And then there’s the CD itself:
That’s classic Ween right there for you.
Anyway, ‘Chocolate and Cheese’ is actually the 4th studio album by the Ween-sters, originally released by Elektra Records in 1994. It was the first Ween album to be recorded in a professional studio, in contrast to the crude four-track home recordings of their first three albums. However, most of the instruments were still played by either Dean and Gene, including their drum machine.
The album is a brilliant fusion of pop and gonzo humor, arguably Ween’s finest moment. Over the course of 60 minutes, Ween explore virtually every permutation of pop, rock, soul, and funk, from the opening song ‘Take Me Away”s rootsy rock to ‘Roses Are Free”s homage to Prince’s shiny ‘Paisley Park‘ era. On the dreamy, British psych-inspired ‘What Deaner Was Talking About‘, the Afro-Caribbean funk of ‘Voodoo Lady‘, and ‘Freedom of ’76‘, their funny, sexy tribute to 70’s Philly soul, Ween don’t so much parody these styles as reinvent them.
Despite the album’s polish and prowess, Ween prove they’re still proudly politically incorrect with ‘Spinal Meningitis (Got Me Down)‘ and ‘Mister Would You Please Help My Pony?‘ two of the creepiest songs about childhood ever recorded. ‘The HIV Song‘ revels in its questionable taste and ‘Don’t Shit Where You Eat”s laid-back pop is one of the album’s subtler jokes. Old-school Ween weirdness surfaces on ‘Candi‘ (the shouting in the background was recorded from the trunk of Dean Ween’s car) and the crazed stomp of ‘I Can’t Put My Finger on It‘. ‘Buenas Tardes Amigo‘, an epic, spaghetti Western-inspired tale of murder and revenge, and ‘Baby Bitch‘, a wry but stinging retort to an ex-girlfriend, show how good Ween are at taking silly things seriously and serious things lightly.
I haven’t always understood nor appreciated Ween. I mean, I wanted to but I just didn’t always get it. This album, however, I can enjoy and it’s the only Ween album I have in my collection. (Okay, I have one other…but that’s going to have to wait for another blog post). Despite all the above weirdness it may also be their most accessible album.
It’s certainly an odd listen for tonight’s Her-man routine…but I’ll live.