THE LATEST FROM WEEN: QUEBEC

They say tragedy wreaks creativity. And though it seems the past two years have been quiet for Ween on the outside, quebec proves profoundly otherwise. So difficult was this time, that Dean Ween made the following comment to Flak magazine: "quebec, to me, is just a shitty big replay of the last two miserable shitty years we had."

No shit.

  • Drummer Claude Coleman, Jr. suffered massive trauma in a car accident.
  • The subsequent "Concerts For Claude" were charity for his uninsured expenses.
  • The band was dropped by Elektra and is still on the hook for a hefty debt.
  • Rather than turning a rare profit, most of the funds from Internet sales and weenradio went toward making quebec.
  • They are still dealing with the annoying "Pizza Hut Debacle."

    Roaring back after 2000's classic White Pepper, the band emerged a better, faster, stronger Ween. And its knave spawn is quebec, their best, brownest, and most serious album to date. A track-by-track review will just sound like every other Ween review. But rest assured, the vital components remain – hard-hitting, aggressive rock mixes with silliness mixes with psychedeli-pop mixes with sonic oddities mixes with drug-cocktail shuffles... and on and on the schizo-ween-ia goes.

    So let's cut to the more important aspect of the album: quebec is uncharacteristically morose. Following the imbecilic "Hey There, Fancypants," a silly little, cheapo-Casio ditty, the album takes a melancholic, ninety-degree downturn. It becomes moody, somber, and much less playful. This motif was alluded to earlier with "Tried and True," the album's single, but half an album's worth of it was not expected.

    The Gregorian lead of "Alcan Road" rolls into a spaced-out, Pink Floyd-like bridge. Which, in turn seeps into a like-minded "The Argus." Which, when added to "Among His Tribe," signals a thematic subplot. The tunes manifest a terse, primal trilogy. Almost medieval. Full of dungeons, dragons, war cries. It becomes Middle Ages concept about becoming middle aged. It's no secret the boys are actually nearing their 40s, and it seems the whole of quebec is an underlying opine back to that same old used-to-be.

    Time was when they were just the struggling troubadours who made misunderstood records. Making people shake their heads in disbelief was a recreational-drug mission. But now they're sick of that life. They've put up with enough fucking shit. And now they need "Zoloft" to help them get by. Peeling away at the layers of any Ween album is dangerous and no doubt other themes abound. But with quebec, I found that each tune played together – however different they were – making for a not-so-concept album about growing up.

    The closing number, "If You Could Save Yourself, You'd Save Us All," is a reviewer's dream. The tune plays exactly like a missing cut from Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, setting up a made-for-review conclusion: if we can agree that Dark Side is the great, drug-induced, mood masterpiece, then quebec, and it's album-wide Floydian filches, is its perfectly bastardized offspring. And while it's blasphemy to think quebec could ever be held in the same reverence as Moon, I have full confidence that it will come to be known as Ween's magnum opus.

    Scott Caffrey
    JamBase | World Wide
    Go See Live Music!

  • [Published on: 9/3/03]

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