Chocolate And Cheese


Elektra Records, 1994

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


If there's any artist out there in the 1990s who could come close to emanulating the style of Frank Zappa, it would have to go to Ween.

If Chocolate And Cheese were instrumental, you would hear carefully nuanced tunes. You would hear strict attention to dynamics and you would hear a good amount of love towards traditional R&B. But then you wouldn't hear such creepy like "Spinal Meningitis (Got Me Down)."

Sadly, Ween came into recognition big time when they were featured on "Beavis and Butt-Head." The song that almost made the too-dumb-to-even-be-stoners duo turn off the tube was "Push The Little Daisies." Luckily for Ween, it gave them a whole new batch of fans and a slew of enemies. Chocolate And Cheese makes no attempt to get new fans. If you like challenging music, hop aboard and get ready for a trippy ride that is anything but smooth.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

"Take Me Away" jump starts the album. You can tell the band has a slightly bigger budget on this outing, but the extra cash flow only expands their already wide ranged palate. Fusing lounge with alternative rock, "Take Me Away" embraced the lounge mentality years before it was infiltrated by a bunch of zoot suited fellas who wanted to start a riot.

"Freedom Of '76" is a breezy piece that incorporates both '70s rock and '70s R&B. Sure, Gene and Dean Ween may sound like they're trying to be Prince (I can say that because I'm talking the early '80s version of him), but there is an undeniable sincerity in their voices.

And if I haven't said it enough already, the instrumental track "A Tear For Eddie," shows that Ween is actually a bunch of very competant musicians if you can wade through the silliness of some of their lyrics and the blatant un-p.c. lyrics of some of their other songs.

Their biggest hit, "Voodoo Lady," remains a staple for college radio. The simple clap-like beat and the funky guitar makes for some great ear candy. Whether or not you like them is irrevelant. They drop hooks on you that you absoultely can't get out of your head.

Like Zappa, Ween pushes the envelope too far on some subjects. Sufferers of spinal meningitis may want to fast forward through "Spinal Meningitis (Got Me Down)." And "The HIV Song" is a silly number that only inclues two words, "AIDS" and "HIV."

Also like Zappa, Ween fans have been known to be incrediably pretentious and arrogant. Few people actually "like" this band. For the most part, people either love them or can't stand them. Hence the college cult following. No way this band's going to make it to the big leagues.

For ambitious music fans, Chocolate And Cheese is an excellent starting point for Ween. Some songs you may not get, some songs seem hurtful at one listen ("Baby Bitch") and strangly sympathetic on the second listen. Their try at country music may put off fans who embraced the weirdness of Chocolate And Cheese, but it only reaffirms the fact that Ween is one of the few groups out there that respect an audience enough to try to challenge them with each recording. There's a lot of beauty in Chocolate And Cheese, but as the middle finger shows you on the CD case, there's plenty of ugliness as well. You've been warned, and yes, you'll probably be rewarded with a couple of listens.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Elektra Records, and is used for informational purposes only.