Sunday, June 3, 2012

Metalheads of the Day: Ween

Weirdoid rock took a hit this week when Ween announced their breakup. My guess is that they'll reunite some day, but it will be at least a few years before Gene and Dean drive anyone crazy with that boogie oogie oogie oogie.

At best, such as on 1994's Chocolate and Cheese, Ween were the rarest kind of experimental band, the kind that gets stuck in your head. They parodied pop, rock, R&B and country as lovingly as Spinal Tap parodied metal, spewing out ingratiating melodies that made you want to dance even when the lyrics made you want to throw up. More cheerful than the Butthole Surfers, more singable than Mr. Bungle and more versatile than Primus, they leave a gaping hole in the alternative universe. 

Ween's performances were even more unpredictable than their albums, but one treat was seeing them cover metal and hard rock standards. By not playing to a metal audience, they gave new life to classics by Motörhead, Van Halen, Nirvana and Black Sabbath.

"Ace of Spades"

 "Hot for Teacher"

"Heart-Shaped Box"

"War Pigs"

There's a hint of silliness in all of these (except for "Heart-Shaped Box," which will always sound unsettling). I'm sure that the band that wrote "Spinal Meningitis (Got Me Down)" doesn't mind the thought of offending some humorless Sabbath fans. But I like the goofy tinges and the are-they-or-aren't-they-kidding debates that these covers raise. My take is that no one would go out of their way to learn "Hot for Teacher" just to make fun of it.

Lest anyone still doubt Ween's metal credit, they recorded the best Motörhead impression ever performed by anyone not named Lemmy. "It's Gonna Be a Long Night" is an original from 2003's Quebec, but I could hear it next to anything on No Sleep 'til Hammersmith.

Ween are pushing th' little daisies now, and they deserve a break. But if they ever come back, I bet they've got a great metal record in them.

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