Ween White Pepper

Ween: Albums Ranked from Worst to Best

Aaron Freeman (Gene Ween) met Mickey Melchiondo (Dean Ween) in their eighth-grade typing class in 1984. They made several homemade albums before their first official release, GodWeenSatan: The Oneness, in 1990. Their fourth album, 1994’s Chocolate and Cheese, marked a change in course, recorded in a proper recording studio. It properly showcased the duo’s talents. Dean Ween is a virtuoso guitarist, while Gene Ween has a rich voice – his talents as a vocal chameleon allow Ween to access an eclectic range of styles. While humour is a focal point for Ween’s music, the songs stand on their own terms as enjoyable pieces.

Ween released a string of worthwhile albums in the late 1990s and early 2000s, before running out of steam with 2007’s La Cucaracha. Gene Ween quit the band in 2012, launching a solo career and fronting a Billy Joel tribute show, before reforming the band in 2016.

It’s easy to overlook Ween; their best-known song, ‘Push th’ Little Daisies’, portrays them as a novelty band, and they’ve been overlooked by canonical works like 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die and Pitchfork’s decade album lists. But as a music geek, it’s fun to see a band with an encyclopedic knowledge of popular music; they present loving tributes and scathing deconstructions of a broad range of music.

Ween’s Albums Ranked

Ween La Cucaracha

#10 La Cucaracha

2007
Ween’s final album is disappointingly flat – Gene Ween later stated that “overall that was a big clue Mickey and I were finito.” There are only a handful of tracks that meet the standards of the band’s previous records – Dean rocks through ‘My Own Bare Hands’, while the lounge of ‘Your Party’ is fun.


#9 The Pod

1991
Ween’s second album is beloved by many hardcore fans. It’s the band at their “brownest”, captured on a primitive four-track recorder at the Pod in Solebury Township, Pennsylvania. At 77 minutes it’s simply too much for casual fans, even though it’s worth digging through for Ween classics like ‘Captain Fantasy’, ‘Awesome Sound’, and ‘Pork Roll Egg and Cheese’. The album cover is iconic, a parody of The Best of Leonard Cohen with a nitrous oxide powered bong.


Ween Shinola Vol. 1

#8 Shinola, Vol. 1

2005
This collection of outtakes is eligible for this list since it’s all material that’s not on their studio albums. It’s a grab bag from different eras of Ween – ‘Tastes Good on th’ Bun’ dates back to The Pod era, while ‘Someday’ is from the Quebec era. It’s inconsistent, not surprising for a bunch of leftovers, but ‘Monique the Freak’ is another ace Prince homage.


#7 Pure Guava

1992
Ween’s major-label debut is another lo-fi effort, compiled from two tapes that the band made for friends. It enjoyed a wider audience, largely due to the song ‘Push th’ Little Daisies’. The stoned-sounding novelty song was featured on Beavis and Butthead and cracked the top 20 on the Australian single charts. The highlight, though, is the Prince homage on ‘Don’t Get 2 Close (2 My Fantasy)’, while there’s a foray into country on ‘I Saw Gener Crying In His Sleep’.


Ween 12 Golden Country Greats

#6 12 Golden Country Greats

1996
Surprisingly, Ween followed Chocolate and Cheese with a country album. There are only ten songs – the twelve in the title refers to the number of session musicians utilised. It’s fun hearing the band marry straitlaced country arrangements to wildly offensive lyrics like ‘Piss Up A Rope’ and ‘Mister Richard Smoker’.


#5 GodWeenSatan: The Oneness

1990
Ween’s debut album is jam-packed with ideas and it’s the most entertaining of their early, lo-fi albums. Their self-mythologising is fun on songs like ‘Up On The Hill’. GWS is impressively diverse, from a lengthy and filthy Prince parody (‘L.M.L.Y.P.’) to the hardcore punk of the opening ‘You F***ed Up’.


Ween Chocolate and Cheese

#4 Chocolate and Cheese

1994, #4
After three lo-fi albums, Ween created Chocolate and Cheese in a recording studio. As usual Chocolate and Cheese is a grab bag of styles, although the clearer sound makes Ween appear even more eclectic. ‘Freedom of ’76’ is Ween’s take on Philadelphia Soul, with the duo stealing Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell in the Spike Jonze directed music video.


Ween Quebec

#3 Quebec

2003
After a series of professional sounding major-label albums, Ween promised fans a return to their early “brown” sound for 2003’s Quebec. Gene and Dean were partially correct – songs like ‘Happy Coloured Marbles’ and ‘Chocolate Town’ recall the group’s early, stoned work. But as always, there are all sorts of eclectic treasures, like the excellent progressive rock of ‘The Argus’, and ‘I Don’t Want It’, a 1970s AOR rumination about lost love.


Ween White Pepper

#2 White Pepper

2000
White Pepper is Ween’s tamest album, smoothly produced and devoid of foul language. Musically, it’s inspired by Beatlesque pop music and 1970s radio fare – there are sharp parodies of Jimmy Buffett and Steely Dan. It’s Ween at their most accessible, and it’s full of excellent songs – the gently psychedelic ‘Flutes of Chi’, and the straightforward pop/rock of ‘Even If You Don’t’. There’s still enough weird stuff to satisfy hardcore fans – the warbling tapes of ‘Ice Castles’ and the heaviness of ‘The Grobe’.


Ween The Mollusk

#1 The Mollusk

2000
Ween followed 1996’s 12 Golden Country Greats with a maritime-themed and progressive-rock flavoured magnum opus. The fun commences with the bouncy show-tune ‘I’m Dancing In The Show Tonight’, and barely lets up until the closing strains of the Celtic ‘She Wanted To Leave’. Highlights include the twisted pop of ‘Mutilated Lips’, ‘ the progressive rock of ‘Buckingham Green’, and the crass Irish drinking song ‘The Blarney Stone’.

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Aphoristical

Graham Fyfe is probably the only music blogger to appreciate Neil Diamond and Ariana Grande.

Aphoristic Album Reviews features many Reviews and Blog Posts across a growing spectrum of popular music.

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30 Comments

  1. Some Ween love! Amazing. I think the band avoids falling completely down the novelty hole due to the quality and number of great non-novelty tunes they have. It also helps that the novelty tunes aren’t just funny, but are witty and very clever.

    My favourite is The Molusk or White Pepper. Depends on the mood, really. I’m also really fond of 12 Golden Country Greats.

    • 5th was a tossup between the debut and the country album. Piss Up A Rope is one of my favourite Ween songs.

      I guess their parodies are entirely new songs – it’s not like Weird Al Yankovic where he just change the words. At the same time, almost all of their stuff feels like homages – if they have their own signature style, it’s their early lo-fi stuff.

      • That’s a good point, too… I can never get into Al. Probably cause the novelty of the songs wear off during the listening of the songs.

  2. When I went to a David Letterman Late Show taping in 2000 or so – Ween was the musical guest.
    My friends & I were disappointed at first (as when we saw it was going to be ‘Wee_’, we hoped it would be Weezer) – but they were solid too!

  3. I put Pure Guava dead last, and then La Cucaracha, and the The Pod. I appreciate The Pod for its atmosphere, but it’s not a particularly fun listen all the way through. And, to me, Pure Guava is just The Pod without even the atmosphere. Pure Guava is the only Ween album where I feel nothing, and even the four tracks I like I could live without.

    My top three are GWS > the Mollusk > White Pepper. And Gener is one of rock’s most underrated vocalists on Earth.

    • It’s interesting you like GWS so much more than the other two early ones – I think it’s clearly the best of the three. I didn’t realise until yesterday that Deaner sings Piss Up A Rope. I knew he did a few others like It’s Gonna Be A Long Night.

      • GWS holds a special place in my heart. It’s incredibly noisy and trashy and pink and I love it from start to finish. I was 17 when I first heard it, which is probably the perfect age, and to this day I still think it’s one of the most naturally funny albums of all time.

  4. Coincidentally, I am going through their discography right now. I am currently listening to The Mollusk and, so far, that’s definitely my favorite!

  5. It’s easy to overlook Ween? WTH, man…I say they are arguably the most important band from the 90s. They took their cue from Zappa’s parody style but made a ton of songs that were timeless. The run from Chocolate and Cheese to Quebec is hard to beat. I even like La Cucaracha, even though it gets derided so much.

  6. The one I heard the most was White Pepper with Even If You Don’t…a friend of mine had the album. A great mixture.
    I checked out 12 Golden Country Greats after you mentioned it…some funny stuff on that. I never knew much about them but I like what I’ve heard.

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