Friday, February 26, 2010

Review #73: Ween - The Live Brain Wedgie/WAD Excerpts (1988)


Year: 1988
Genre: Punk Rock, Psychedelic Rock
Bird O' Pray Records
19 Minutes (Medium-Length)
My Rating:

I discovered and fell in love with Ween nearly two years ago, now. One hot summer night, while taking a short break from roaming the redneck infested street shirtless on the hunt for stray beer to steal, I was on his laptop watching videos from one of my favorite YouTube channels, CringeVision. The channel posts up all of the horrible things that have come out of Texas public access television. Mostly 4th-rate children's educational programs, drunken baptist sermons, horrible Christian shows, really bad "talent" programs, racist commercials, and a demonic straight-to-video show from the '80s called "Peppermint Park". However, on this night I saw they posted up a whole bunch of videos of a lil' band called "Ween". They said "if you don't own a Ween album, you are missing out" -- with a name like 'Ween' and a music video called "Push th' Little Daisies", how could I go wrong with this? Well, I watched it and got something even greater than I expected. Stupid-as-hell lyrics, a squeaky sped-up voice, two guys with guitars making weird faces, and a fucking catchy but weird riff. I laughed my ass off the first time, but while I thought it was hilarious, I also actually liked the song a lot. I tried showing it to my friend (who was an emo at the time), and he wrote it off as stupid. It took a few more listens, but it grew on him and for the rest of the year we would regularly sing the lyrics because we loved it so much. At the time, I didn't know what to think. I was so amazed. It didn't sound like anything else I'd ever heard before -- at the time, my musical diet mainly consisted of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sonic Youth, and the Smashing Pumpkins. Y'know, music that was pretty serious and angsty and sung about heroin a lot. But because of my alternative tastes, I was pretty open to weirder music. I listened to the song all morning the next day after our all-night adventure (which also included listening to my friend watch "Deliverance" while trying to sleep and forking some fucker's yard at 4:45 AM). But I STILL hadn't truly known of Ween's potential. I seriously at first thought this was just some stoned high-school kids with a camcorder and some chick decided it would be funny to make a music video and put it on local public access or something. I was wrong. Turns out the band still plays today. I tried listening to some of the immediate links in the 'related videos' section. Wasn't too interested. I didn't make a real effort to check out Ween's other music for awhile, but "Push the Little Daisies" was something I listened to OVER AND OVER. Around December of that year, me and my friend Joseph (same kid as I mentioned earlier) decided to look up some more Ween. I was hearing other songs from "Pure Guava" -- "Sarah", "Little Birdy", "Pumpin' 4 the Man", among basically every other song on the album... I had found my niche. These songs were hilarious, druggy, bizarre, but also with an innocent charm to it... perhaps it's just because Gene Ween sounds 12 years old on half of that album. Whatever the case, though, I realized that this was not just the work of a bunch of high school stoners doing it for a laugh which accidentally turned out to be something brilliant. This was the work of GENIUSES.

However, at one point, they actually WERE high school stoners doing it for a laugh. Back when Ween formed in 1984, they were two 14-year-old punks that met at a typing class. They initially hated eachother but soon became friends. They played and recorded music all of the time, releasing a series of relatively unknown albums on the now defunct Bird O' Pray Records. These tapes are now out-of-print. However, by the late '80s, Ween was touching upon a new wave of brilliance. A lot of people consider "God Ween Satan", the album that came after this to be Ween's first album, but that is not true. This album sort of bridges the two eras along with that album, because it has songs from older albums AND God Ween Satan, and it's their first ever vinyl release, moving past mere cassette tapes. It's actually a double-album of sorts, not because it uses two discs, but because the two sides are different "albums" in their own right. Side 1 in a live record. Side 2 is a studio record. Actually, to make it even weirder, both sides apparently are supposed to be played at different speeds... weird, huh? Well, let's talk about the album. I don't have all day...

1. You Fucked Up (Live)
Originally from the Crucial Squeegee Lip. Begins with Gener cackling and laughing like a maniac. Suddenly, the main riff can be heard and the song pretty much goes into its thing. My favorite line is "YOU FUCKING NAZI WHORE". It alternates between more speedy parts and slightly slower parts. It's a violent, screamin'-like-a-demon anthem to fucking up.

2. Jelly (Live)
A song about jelly and putting it on your toast. It's a little slower than the song before it. Sometimes the vocals are screamed, sometimes they're roared.

3. The Refrigerator that Wouldn't Close (Live)
Similar tempo to the previous song. It's very short. It's a song about a refrigerator that wouldn't close and Deaner starts going on about South Africa before the song begins. "Open my ears, and open my nose..."

4. I Like You (Live)
At the beginning of the song, Gener encourages everyone in the audience to hold hands. It's a song about being friends with someone and liking them and playing in the park. More psycho-goofball vocals. Hee hee hee.

5. I Drink A Lot (Live)
Another one taken from the first album. Gener gets the title wrong and Deaner tries to explain to the audience that Gene "hasn't learned to read, yet". It's a more straightforward punk song about an apathetic trainwreck of a man who just doesn't care about anything, listens to jazz-fusion, and of course, drinks a lot. His wife is fat and his brother is thin. The song ends with some weird noize and more screaming, to which Gene explains "that's how it ends."

6. Nippy Wiffle (Live)
The last live song. As Gene introduces the next song, Deaner sings his praises to the almighty Boognish in the background. Also the longest song on the Live Brain Wedgie half of the album. Mainly a mid-tempo beat, a one-chord riff and some screamed gibberish vocals. There's a bridge section with a solo in it, too. Dean and Gene scream on as the song fades out after it's all over. And that's the end of the Live Brain Wedgie.

7. In the Node of Golgothia
Now we're on to the WAD Excerpts. Starts with a weird voice (it could be either one of them) talking in an echoey/metallic voice saying something weird. After some more weird noises, the next song begins. It's extremely fast accompanied by fuzzed-screams and other garbled vocals. The in-between parts are slower. The vocals here are just fucking HILARIOUS.

8. I Gots a Weasel
This one got on "God Ween Satan" later on. Deaner sings in a low-pitched gravelly-soundin' voice, as a nice little beat plays and there's no rhythm guitar here, just bass guitar. Gene supplies the frantic background vocals. It's pretty laid-back. At the very end, Gene asks "you got a weasel?"

9. Hippie Smell
A song making fun of modern-day hippies, asking questions of why anybody would want to live in the '60s when "a lot of shit happened in the sixties", and "your hippie little ass would've probably gotten killed" -- also calling modern hippies "not real" and "not surreal". Ends with a lot of screams. This song sounds a lot more like the kind of stuff that would be on the albums after this ('The Pod', for example). It's a happy-sounding psychedelic-rock song. Longest song on its half of the album.

10. Stacey
A song about having a crush on a girl named "Stacey". Great solo. In the final verse, the vocals are screamed like a maniac.

11. Gladolia Heartbreaker
A '70s rock-sounding song. You can actually hear the background instruments and vocals walk from the left to the right speaker. Adds a nice touch. It sadly ends here, though.

Must say, it was a pretty neat-o album. After this they released an album called "Prime 5", a "best of" compilation which contained their personal picks from this album and all of the ones before it. After this one, they were finally signed to a higher-profile label, Twin/Tone Records. On that label they released their first "real" album called God Ween Satan. It had a lot of re-recordings of songs from the older era as well as forays into a new direction for Ween. Starting with that album, the band would begin to move past their initial punk phase to a more psychedelic, weirder one. This is epitomized on "The Pod" and "Pure Guava" -- eventually they just started doing everything, including a country album at one point. But this is a good listen, and it gives a coherent look into the days of Ween that you likely missed out on. Side one is an early live show, and side two sounds like they just did some new songs in their room. Recommended for all true Ween fans, who would call this record "brown". Oh, and it's my birthday today. Yay...


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