The Old Testament: Ween-Chocolate and Cheese
I distinctly remember the first time I ever heard Ween, I was in the 6th grade and watching MTV's Alternative Nation. Kennedy was on-screen, inevitably doing something smarmy and annoying. Suddenly, the music channel cued the video for Ween's "Push th' Little Daisies." Being 11 years at the time, I certainly wasn't in on the joke, didn't understand what sort of mushrooms they were eating, and basically sided with Beavis and Butthead when they declared that Ween "like totally sucked."
So when the New Hope, Pennsylvania duo followed up Pure Guava with 1994's Chocolate and Cheese, I wasn't exactly paying much attention to the band (maybe if I'd seen the album cover.) In fact, I really hated them at the time, thanks to one of my best friends, who whenever he wanted to annoy me, would start flailing around in a circle like a retard and yelping "Push the little daises and make 'em come up...yeah!!" ad nauseum into my right ear. It was fucking awesome.
So that year, while I was busy memorizing the lyrics to "Regulate" and "Indo Smoke" Chocolate and Cheese, Ween's fourth album wasn't exactly on my radar. Which is too bad, because its a certified masterpiece, a dizzying, disorienting and hilarious trip through the twisted minds of Dean and Gene Ween. A record that sounds like the White Album if it were played strictly for laughs (and dedicated to the then-recently deceased John Candy) Often described as pop de-constructionists for their Zappa-like ability to simultaneously break down various genres, Ween pay homage to and lampoon music of all stripes, tackling Philly Soul, Afro-Carribean funk, Mexican folk ballads, and British psych, among others.
Chocolate and Cheese from being just another jokey light-weight record are Ween's masterful song-writing ability. Even when penning a tune as ridiculous as "Don't Shit Where You Eat," the band's bizarre but kinda' poignant finale, Ween build the track around shimmering acoustic guitars and gentle resonating bass lines that in a Bizarro universe would be hit singles (No "Fergielicious.")
Of course, Ween wouldn't be Ween if the album wasn't weird. Its scatalogical and political incorrectness are worthy of Trey Parker and Matt Stone (who later went on to direct Ween's "Even if you Don't" video). In that vein, Chocolate and Cheese features a 7 minute Mexican outlaw ballad called"Buenas Tardes Amigo," where the Ween boys take on a ridiculously thick Latino accent, and sing about Cinco de Mayo being on Tuesday and how they want to sell their enemies chickens with poisoned meat. "Spinal Meningitis (Got me Down) is a tongue-in-cheek story of a little child going to the doctor to get checked for Spinal Meningitis. Meanwhile, "The H.I.V. Song" is pure carnival jingle-jangle with the only lyrics, the words "HIV" and "AIDS," repeated endlessly. This, of course, was at the height of AID's paranoia in 1994 (see Reality Bites).
Interspersed are the truly classic album cuts, some of the more catchy slices of the pop ever recorded during the "alternative rock" era. "Freedom of 76" invents Beck's entire Midnight Vultures persona. The Prince homage of "Roses are Free," is filled with stoned silly funk that Trey Anastasio hijacked for marathon Phish sets. And its practically inconceivable that "Voodoo Lady" never became a Top 40 single, as its sounds like it was made straight for sorority row., with its brainless lyrics and wildly catchy hooks. Sadly, most people probably know it as that song from Road Trip.
Chocolate and Cheese pretty awesome. Having never seen them live, I'm damned jealous of everyone going to Bonnaroo this Summer, where Ween will be playing a set that will totally not suck. Well, except for "Push th' little Daisies" which last time I checked, remains extraordinarily annoying.
MP3: Ween-"Voodoo Lady"
MP3: Ween-"Roses are Free"
"Push th' Little Daisies"