Saturday, December 27, 2014

chocolate and cheese

Ween transcended novelty with eclectic musicianship and catchy cleverness in this twisted carnival of custard and dairy kitsch.    In the decade since Aaron Freeman (Gene Ween) and Mickey Melchiondo (Dean Ween) met in high school in New Hope, Pennsylvania, they had released six self-made cassettes (Mrs. Slack, The Crucial Squeegie Lip, Axis: Bold as Boognish, Erica Peterson's Flaming Crib Death, The Live Brain Wedgie/WAD, and Prime 5), one album for Twin/Tone Records ('GodWeenSatan: The Oneness'), one for ShimmyDisk ('The Pod'), and one for Elektra Records ('Pure Guava').  

Unlike their previous records, 'Chocolate and Cheese' was recorded at an actual studio with producer Andrew Weiss:    “No major label had ever put out a record recorded on a 4-track, except maybe [Bruce Springsteen’s] 'Nebraska'.  But obviously [Nebraska] didn’t sound Scotchguard. It didn’t wear its 4-track on its sleeve like Pure Guava does. So that was kind of a coup because they got all this dough for doing a record on a 4-track that cost, like, $100 to make, and that was probably all spent on pizza and weed.”

Melchiondo muses:  "I think it started out ’cause it was all we could afford really. And when you’re in the studio, you’re recording on the clock, and an hour of studio time plus the cost of the engineer is really more than your average, whatever, 16-year-old kid can afford, so...I think when you only have four tracks to record on, you have to write better songs, ’cause you can’t do much production . . . [laughs]."

Freeman reveals:  "I had moved to a large farmhouse called Brookridge Farm with a couple of buddies of mine.  It was on endless acres of beautiful Lamberville countyside and I had my own floor of the place.  I remember having a 4-track set up in my room and recording constantly.  This is where most of 'Chocolate and Cheese' was written.  The farmhouse was always host to a flux of girlfriends, musicians, drugs, etc.  It was an incredible place to be in your early twenties and was never short of inspiration.  I did a lot of kissing, dancing, and vomiting in those days.  It was awesome."

The sessions took place at Graphic Sound Studios in Ringoes, New Jersey with Dean Ween on guitar and vocals;  Gene Ween on vocals;  Mean Ween (Dave Dreiwitz) on bass;  and Claude Coleman on drums;   with additional contributions from Andrew Weiss, Claude Coleman, Patricia Frey Stephan, Stephen Said, and Scott Lowe.   Weiss produced, engineered, and mixed the album.  Addtional engineering was done by Greg Frey and mastering by Howie Weinberg.   Live sound by Kirk Miller. 'Chocolate and Cheese' went to number ten on the Billboard Heatseekers album chart with the single "Voodoo Lady" becoming their second (after "Push Th' Little Daisies") and final hit, going to number thirty-two on the US alternative singles chart.  

Freeman says:   "It was a very creative time and a real bridge record.  What came before that record and what was to come after were really very different things ... There was a design firm that came up with the cover for Chocolate and Cheese -- with the almost naked girl wearing the Ween belt. They made the belt, found the model, and hired the photographer. And when we tried to get the belt, nobody responded. They took it!"

 Freedom of '76

Voodoo Lady

I Can't Put My Finger on It

'Chocolate and Cheese' 
full album:

All tracks by Ween

1. Take Me Away - 0:00
2. Spinal Meningitis (Got Me Down) - 2:50
3. Freedom of '76 - 5:43
4. I Can't Put My Finger on It - 8:33
5. A Tear for Eddie - 11:22
6. Roses Are Free - 16:09
7. Baby Bitch - 20:44
8. Mister, Won't You Please Help My Pony - 23:49
9. Drifter in the Dark - 26:44
10. Voodoo Lady - 29:16
11. Joppa Road - 33:03
12. Candi - 36:06
13. Buenos Tardes Amigo - 40:09
14. The HIV Song - 47:16
15. What Deaner Was Talkin' About - 49:25
16. Don't Shit Where You Eat - 51:25

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