If you are already aware of the band, then you will soon recognise this recording as being a wonderful showcase for the Weeners: highlighting their incredible range of songs and performance skills.
Aaron Freeman and Mickey Melchiondo morphed into Gene Ween and Dean Ween sometime in the mid-eighties, it didn't take long before they were putting out their own cassette releases, laying down what was soon to become familiar territory; songs about dwarfs, weasels, the great Boognish (don't ask), parasitic afflictions, diseases and their favourite foods, captured in a variety of styles and genres, ranging form lo-fi punk to avant garde musings to metal and thrash to country and western - but always with an idiosyncratic twist that made all of their songs, no matter what the genre, into distinctive Ween songs.
Shit, they're almost a genre unto themselves!
This recording, which has been released as a DVD (I'm offering here the bonus CD version, with a few extras), captured a performance in Chicago back in 2003. The sound quality is excellent, and the set list pretty much works as a greatest hits package - not that they had any real hits, but I'm sure you get my drift.
Many of the tracks here are performed with both Dean and Gene playing guitars, and a wonderful sound is created through the juxtaposition of the Les Paul and the Strat; and although the two guitar setup is a familiar one, Ween ain't Wishbone Ash, and are far more interested in creating textures than out noodling one another.
'Roses are Free' is probably the best example of this, with the blended guitar licks spiralling into an adrenaline filled crescendo that will raise the spirits of the most stubborn of miserablists.
It is Dean though who in reality is the true guitar player of the band; and boy can he spank that plank!
'I'll Be Your Johnny on the Spot' features a stunning smoking solo worthy of any ax hero you can mention; and he may not be Robert Fripp, but he sure can rip it up and make that Fender snarl.
There are a few moments of calm during this recording, and donning acoustic guitars, Gene and Dean take their music down to places others would find inaccessable.
Just check out the unique and absurd beauty of 'Mutilated Lips':
Give a kiss on the wrist
Of the worm like tips
Of tentacles expanding in my mind
I'm fine accepting only fresh brine
You can get another drop of this, if you wish
As to the disease and sickness inspired songs; well, you gotta write about something, right, and perhaps a way of dealing with such shit as HIV is to write a punk anthem to it.
Dunno, it works for me.
'Spiral Meningitis' could well be autobiographical, but what it does represent is an authentic truth; it may well be disturbing, but then severe illness is (other illnesses dealt with in Ween's oeuvre include 'Mononucleosis' (glandular fever), Lime's disease (an infection caused by parasitic ticks: 'Tick'), mental disorders ('Zoloft'), Obesity ('Fat Lenny') and actually being dead ('Push the Little Daisies').
He likes to lick his brain in silence.
I've included the encore with the original recording, featuring two excellent metal songs: 'You Fucked Up' and the hyperbolic 'Doctor Rock', both performed immaculately, sending the Chicago audience into a total frenzy.
The brakes are suddenly applied allowing Dean to express himself during the wonderfully sublime 'She Fucks Me'; building up to a mighty climax with the crowd pleaser 'Booze Me Up and Get Me High'.
This DVD may well still be available (although the bonus CD may not accompany it - but hey, you can get that here), so you could go out and buy it; but if your appetite is moistened, check out the stunning albums God Ween Satan and my personal favourite: The Pod.
Take Me Away
Even If You Don't
She Fucks Me*
*Encore Bonus Tracks
Tracks ripped from CD