10. 12 Golden Country Greats (1996)
Lots of listeners get hung up on the conceit of 12 Golden Country Greats, for better or for worse. If you're not up to speed, the album is one of those "Young artist meets old-school session musicians" projects, which have become common in the indie sphere since Ween made the trip to Tennessee (e.g., Bonnie "Prince" Billy's Sings Greatest Palace Music). Plenty have slagged on 12GCG and plenty have praised it, but what both sides often miss is that this is an unusually spotty set of Ween songs. Rather than indulging their pan-stylistic whims, as they would on pretty much every other LP, Gene and Dean hew tightly to one approach here, sapping their creativity in the process. Placid, repetitive songs like "I'm Holding You" and "Powder Blue" make the album feel longer than its half-hour running time, and the brasher, sillier tracks ("Piss Up A Rope," "Mister Richard Smoker") sound forced in context. There are a few buried gems here, most notably "Help Me Scrape The Mucus Off My Brain," a comically dire alcoholic's plea ("I think I spent the dog-food money") sung by Melchiondo, who undersells the conceit brilliantly, and the existential folk tune "You Were the Fool." And the dissonance between the offbeat lyrics and seamless vintage-style arrangements yields a certain curiosity factor. But overall, 12GCG plays more like a "Because we could" one-off than a genuinely worthy Ween album, especially with LPs as strong as Chocolate And Cheese and The Mollusk sitting on either side of it.