12 Golden Country Greats
According to Wikipedia “the Jordanaires have been one of country music’s premier backup vocal groups, working with artists such as Patsy Cline, Johnny Horton, Ferlin Husky, Tammy Wynette, Kenny Rogers, Ween, Red Foley, Jim Reeves, and George Jones.” If Dean and Gene Ween look slightly out of place among the above list of country musicians, they do have a country legacy, of precisely one album, 1996’s 12 Golden Country Greats. The album actually consists of only ten songs, a reference to the dozen country session musicians who contributed to the album. Either way, 12 Golden Country Greats stands up as a surprisingly satisfying foray into country for Ween – there’s obviously an implicit humour in hearing dirty Ween lyrics juxtaposed with straight faced country (“You can wash my balls/With a warm, wet rag”), but some of these songs play the country genre surprisingly straight and surprisingly sincerely, and perhaps it’s the mixture of parody and affection that makes 12 Golden Country Greats an entertaining, likable foray into country music.
On the parody side of the album, ‘Piss Up A Rope’ marries over the top misogynistic lyrics to a perky country beat, and probably comes out as the most memorable song on the record, while ‘Mister Richard Smoker’ couples over the top homophobic lyrics with a swinging country beat. It’s not surprising that Ween are able to perform satirical songs like these successfully, as it’s their modus operandi, and it’s the serious stuff like the opening ballad ‘I’m Holding You’ and the melodic ‘You Were The Fool’ that’s even more revealing.
It’s a surprisingly sincere and enjoyable album, and it’s only the relatively short length (32 minutes) which makes it feel like an EP and means that it isn’t quite in the top tier of Ween albums with The Mollusk and White Pepper.