The Dean Ween Group return with their sophomore LP, a mix of instrumentals, covers and funny lyrical tracks.
In between Ween concerts and a studio album their fans have been waiting on for more than a decade, Dean Ween, aka Mickey Melchiondo, has been mining nearly 35 years of tracks in his Lambertville studio to craft several into solo side project releases.
The Dean Ween Group’s 2016 debut LP, The Deaner Album, is to be followed on March 16 by Deaner Rock 2, featuring fellow Ween members Claude Coleman Jr. on drums, Dave Dreiwitz on bass and Glenn McClelland on keys, as well as a parade of other players. They include Parliament-Funkadelic guitarist Michael Hampton, SpiTune lead guitarist Bill Fowler, and Electric Six drummer Ray Kubian, all of whom frequent Deaner’s weekly Invitational Jam at John & Peter’s in his hometown of New Hope.
The players match Melchiondo’s live energy on Deaner Rock 2 and make for some tasty jams on the 11-song, guitar-oriented LP’s instrumentals, covers and funny lyrical tracks.
With longtime partner Gene Ween (Aaron Freeman), Melchiondo has made songwriting the priority on their nine studio albums, he has said. But with The Dean Ween Group, he brings his axe to the fore to recreate the side project’s raucous live shows.
Highlights include two covers: the opening Iron Knowledge funk classic “Showstopper” and Ween’s lunar inversion of Gerry & the Pacemakers’ “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying” in a roots-rocking take that sounds like Sweetheart of the Rodeo Byrds meet Exile on Main St. Stones.
Also fun are several instrumentals including “Fingerbangin’,” a garage-rockin’, R&B-drippin’, jazz-tinged surf tune in the vein of the Munsters theme if played by John Zorn. “Love Theme from ‘Skinheads Kicking Your Ass’ ” is an Irish punk instrumental that should fire up fans of Flogging Molly and The Dropkick Murphys, especially the shouts of “oi” in between slabs of Emerald Isle rage and cakes of Celtic noodling. There are really nice (albeit not credited) keyboard parts, most likely by McClelland, on “The Ritz Carlton,” along with strong, tasty rhythms, probably by Coleman and Dreiwitz.
The outing also closes with an instrumental, the bluesadelic “Sunset Over Belmar,” which likely was inspired by trips on Melchiondo’s charter fishing boat. The tune mixes the scorching spirit of Hendrix, ’70s-style R&B waltz and a bit of Elvis-like Hawaiian schmaltz.
But the standout track is the hysterically funny, incredibly crude country novelty number “Pussy on My Pillow,” which makes Jimmy Buffett’s “Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Screw?” seem tame. This is Dean Ween at his most naughty and funny.
I also like the Beatlesquedelic “Waste Station 9,” which sounds like Paul McCartney fronting Cream, and “Someone Greased the Fatman,” a sequel to Little Feat’s “Fatman in the Bathtub” peppered with P-Funk, Primus and Zappa.
The Dean Ween Group will kick off a tour on March 21 that will include shows March 30 at the Theater of Living Arts in Philly, and March 31 at the Brooklyn Bowl. Then they’ll head to Australia in April.
Bob Makin is the reporter for MyCentralJersey.com/entertainment and a former managing editor of The Aquarian Weekly, which launched this column in 1988. Contact him at email@example.com. And like Makin Waves at facebook.com/makinwavescolumn.