Review Summary: Obscene, outlandish, weird, immature, stupid, and amazing.
When GodWeenSatan: The Oneness
was released in 1990, the popular musical climate was much like what was experienced throughout the Eighties. Lavish wigs and pop divas were still all the rage, and alternative rock was still raging somewhat below the mainstream, with a few lucky players--Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane’s Addiction come to mind--making subtle moves to infiltrate the norm. However, there was still that stench of ridiculous Eighties excess floating around, and the times called for something weird, unserious, and fresh to emerge. Thankfully, in all their irreverent and silly glory, Ween emerged, releasing a seventy-minute sprawl during that year that is often underrated, both in the grand scheme of things and even in the band’s own discography. It was what the times asked for.
But no one really listened to it. In fact, probably due to its terribly murky production and weirdness, no one (well, I’m sure some did, but not a lot) listened even after the band got reasonably popular after albums like Chocolate and Cheese
and The Mollusk
. There was obviously some excellent material to be found on the disc, but it really took too much work to dig down and find it. It was just easier to put on one of the band’s reasonably immaculate produced major label albums.
Thank God for this reissue then. Remastered in 2001 as a “25th anniversary edition” eleven years after it was originally released, GodWeenSatan
was suddenly listenable, or at least it didn’t sound like it was recorded in a trash can anymore. It was still long, nearly to an overwhelming extent at a ridiculous seventy-three minutes, and it still shifted genres from song to song, but it was manageable. With this remaster, the hidden had become obvious: this oeuvre includes some of Ween’s greatest songs, and some of the catchiest and purely irresistible melodies this enigmatic duo have written. When we all listened to this a second time, we stabbed ourselves with fury that we missed out on possibly one of the greatest albums of the 90s.
Of course, this is a Ween album, and our loveable duo was more interesting in creating drug-fueled parodies during this time than consistent masterpieces. And yes, more songs here are hilarious than innovative. But it doesn’t really matter, especially when the overall quality of these individual songs is so high anyways. Filled with highly melodic guilty pleasures such as the profanity-drenched rocker “You Fuck
ed Up” and twisted twee pop misadventures like “Don’t Laugh (I Love You)”, GodWeenSatan
is enjoyable in ways that you thought you’d outgrown. When you’re twenty, and still singing “you fuc
ked up/you fuc
king Nazi whore” as loud as you can and then begin laughing hysterically, you might feel a little silly. But that’s how this album manages to slip under our skin.
There’s many reasons why GodWeenSatan
is so irresistible, but the most imperative of all of them is the strength of the songs here. Songs like “Tick” take normal pop structures, add distorted guitars and bizarre, gonzo lyrics, and inject something that would be simple and lifeless with a shot of pure adrenaline. The high point of the album is during its first twelve songs: each one is completely memorable and hilarious, all acting as two minute energy shots. This stretch also acts as an excellent introduction to Ween’s style: never serious, often rather weird, containing lyrics about things like sex, bumblebees, cold fuck
ing days, and weasels; and always insanely eclectic. Later albums would be more instrumentally dense, but GodWeenSatan
simplifies things down to distorted guitars and driving drumbeats. Gene and Dean Ween’s (not their real names) vocals range from sickly sweet to insane screams, always being unpredictable, and for this, always being interesting.
“Nicole”, the thirteenth track, is a nine-minute complete fuc
k-up, and tries to parody doo-wop love songs. The track succeeds as a parody, as a comedic device, but not as an actual song
; it’s much too long and boring. From there, GodWeenSatan
is sadly hit and miss, with tracks like the hard-rocking “Common Bitch” failing as a rehash of what was already perfected in “You Fuc
ked Up”, and “Mushroom Festival in Hell”, despite having the most apt-fitting name ever, can’t even cross its own finish line at a runtime of three minutes. But there’s still excellent material throughout the second half: “L.M.L.Y.P”, which stands for “Let Me Lick Your Pus
sy”, is the greatest Prince tribute/parody ever written, and Gene Ween moaning in a straight-up sex orgasm moan “let me lick your pussy/let me lick your cu
nt” is one of the funnier parts of the album. “Birthday Boy” is also a bright spot on this latter half of GodWeen
, taking a noise-rock riff and letting Dean sing emotively over it. Whether or not Dean’s parodying over-emotive indie boys with his performance is unknown; he at least does a perfect job at keeping the answer ambiguous.
Ween have always been a creative, genre-busting and always hilarious force, and GodWeenSatan
shows that this duo was creating great music very early in their career. And if you’re one of those super-serious detractors that consider a band that has songs like “You Fuc
ked Up” and “L.M.L.Y.P.” to be outlandish and immature, I doubt anyone who really likes this band will really care. I know I won’t.