Feb 27, 2006

chocolate & cheese

Ween certainly aren't my favorite band to listen to but they without a single doubt are the most talented. Ween are Dean and Gene Ween. Stage names for a couple of childhood friends who turn out some of the most creative, hilarious, serious, experimental music I've come across. Chocolate and Cheese is considered their best album. I'd have to agree. It is a tour de force.

Ween are hard to characterize. At times you think some giant joke is being played on you by the band. "Was that supposed to be funny or serious?" is the type of thing you'll say after most of their songs. Take a look at the album cover. That is either a scorching criticism of 70s cock-rock bands or some kind of homage. It's perhaps a combination of both feelings. They simultaneously seem to be poking fun at their childhood music heroes as well honoring them.

Who are their childhood music heroes? Everyone it seems. They effortlessly glide among all the major music genres. Take Chocolate and Cheese. I hear pop, funk, soul, rock, afro-Caribbean, etc. But here is the weird thing. As if to poke salt into the wound, Ween out-compose the bands they are mimicking. Consider Roses are Free an obvious tribute to Prince. This song could have been safely put on any Paisley Park era song from the Purpled One. Heck it's better than most Prince songs from that period. And then check out these inane Prince-y lyrics:
Take a piece of tinsel and put it on the tree
Cut a slab of melon and pretend that you still love me
Carve out a pumpkin and rely on your destiny
Get in your car and cruise the land of the brave and the free

But don't forget to understand exactly what you put on the tree
Don't believe the florist when he tells you that the roses are free

Take a wrinkled raisin, and do with it what you will
Push it into third if you know you're gonna climb a hill
Eat plenty of lasagna 'til you know that you've had your fill
Resist all the urges that make you wanna go out and kill
Ween out-ZZ Top, ZZ Top. They out Rush, Rush. They out Simon & Garfunkle, Simon & Garfunkle. It really is a head trip. There are moments when you feel unsure of making any kind of judgment on a song. The HIV song - a merry-go-round melody with "HIV" and "AIDS" liberally tossed in throughout the song. On the surface this could be taken purely as a joke. But the reality is the song is all the more haunting because of the silly melody. The gem of the album is the epic Spaghetti-Western inspired Buenos Tardes Amigo, adorned with a precise, bad Mexican accent. It shows Ween's ability to make the funny, serious and to take seriously, the funny.


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PHSChemGuy said...

Chocolate & Cheese is a blast of an album. I love the genre hopping, and I think this is Ween's best album, even though I'd also recommend Quebec.