| The Mollusk
16 July 1996
| July 16, 1996 (1996-07-16)|
November 2-November 8, 1995
Country music, Alternative rock
Ween albums, Country music albums
12 Golden Country Greats is Ween's fifth album, and third on Elektra Records.
This album marked the first time Ween limited themselves to a specific genre of music. Bringing in a wide variety of seasoned (and sometimes legendary) Nashville musicians (including Charlie McCoy, Buddy Spicher, Bobby Ogdin and The Jordanaires), the album sought to recreate the sound of golden-age country music with a great amount of success, while also combining this sound with classic Ween on such tracks as "Piss Up a Rope." According to producer and friend of the band Ben Vaughn, Ween asked him to produce the album as he had already been working with musicians on the Nashville country scene, having produced Arthur Alexander's Lonely Just Like Me album and co-written songs with Rodney Crowell and Gary Nicholson. Although they managed to get many highly-regarded country musicians to play on the album, some such as keyboardist Bobby Emmons (who also served as a church deacon) and Danny Davis turned them down due to the "blue" nature of much of their material. The session musicians were responsible for almost all instrumentation on the album: the only instrumental parts recorded by the core members of the band were guitar solos by Dean and Gene on "I Don't Wanna Leave You on the Farm" and "Fluffy" respectively. The legendary Bradley's Barn was chosen for recording the album. Later, Ween would assemble some of the session musicians again into a touring band dubbed The Shit Creek Boys.
The original version of "Powder Blue" runs for 4:16 and ends with a sample from Muhammad Ali. Ween were denied permission to use the sample by Ali's lawyers, but Elektra pressed the album accidentally. Repressings of the album contain a cut version, causing the song to abruptly end after the introduction "Ladies & Gentlemen, I'd like to present Muhammad Ali".
Gene sings every song except "Piss up a Rope" and "Help me Scrape the Mucus off my Brain," which feature Dean on vocals.
In the tradition of country music, during the song "Powder Blue" Gene introduces each member of the band who then plays a short solo on their instrument.
The melody of "Japanese Cowboy" closely resembles that of "Chariots of Fire" by Vangelis: the band have played the two songs as a medley in live shows.
Reviews for the album were mostly positive. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic called it "as satisfying as any of their records, and gutsier, too", despite interpreting "Mister Richard Smoker" as being homophobic. He awarded the album 4 stars out of 5. Ethan Smith of Entertainment Weekly railed the album, describing the entire album as having songs "notable more for their homophobia, misogyny, and racism than for anything funny", and gave the album a C-. Sputnikmusic's Zachary Powell gave the album 4 and a half stars out of 5 and claimed that "Writing songs about similar themes to what country songs have been written about but including their personal brown touch is what the band does best." Another writer of the same site, Bill Thomas, gave the album 4 out of 5.
In a 2011 interview, Vaughn remarked that when the album was released many Ween fans were confused by the radical break with the band's previous sound, comparing it to the fan reception given to Neil Young's album Trans.
"Piss Up a Rope" was released as a single by Elektra and features the tracks "You Were the Fool" and "So Long, Jerry" (a tribute to Jerry Garcia, recorded during the 12 Golden Country Greats sessions but not used on the album.)
"Piss Up a Rope" was also released as a 7-inch single on Diesel Only Records, featuring another non-album track recorded during the 12 Golden Country Greats sessions – "Sweet Texas Fire".Dean Ween – Vocals, Guitar on "I Don't Want to Leave You on the Farm"
Gene Ween – Vocals, Guitar on "Fluffy"
The Jordanaires – Vocals
Pete Wade – Dobro, Guitar, 6-String Bass
Bob Wray – Bass guitar
Kip Paxton – Bass
Buddy Blackman – Banjo
Russ Hicks – Pedal Steel
Buddy Spicher – Fiddle, Mandolin
Bobby Ogdin – Piano
Hargus "Pig" Robbins – Piano
Dennis Solee – Clarinet
Charlie McCoy – Organ, Banjo, Bass, Harmonica, Percussion, Trumpet, Tuba, Vibraphone
Gene Chrisman – drums
Buddy Harman – Drums
Bobby Bradley – Engineer
Ben Vaughn – Producer
Chuck Dehaan – Art Direction
1I'm Holding You4:0312 Golden Country Greats Wikipedia
3Piss Up a Rope3:34