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Audio CD (February 2, 1999) - Number of Discs: 1 - Label: Slow River Records - Catalog Number: SRRCD 41
After an 18-year hiatus from recording, Chuck E. Weiss returned to the studio with Extremely Cool, his first album since 1981's The Other Side of Town on Select. Extremely Cool made one wish that Weiss hadn't stayed away from the studio for so long, for it's an enjoyable and unpretentious collection of roots music and Americana. A variety of earthy material finds its way to this release, which ranges from the bluesy rock of "Pigmy Fund" and "Devil with Blue Suede Shoes" and the roots-rock of "Jimmy Would" and "It Rains on Me" to the zydeco-influenced "Oh, Marcy" and the jazz-minded "Sonny Could Lick All Them Cats." The thing that ties all of these songs together is Weiss' earthy, down-home nature -- instead of trying to seduce listeners with slickness or technique, Weiss wins you over with his honesty and lack of pretense. This CD employs such noteworthy guests as Tom Waits (one of the executive producers) and guitarist Tony Gilkyson (brother of folk-pop singer Eliza Gilkyson and a former member of Lone Justice and X) -- and it made a person hope that Weiss wouldn't wait another 18 years to record his next album.
You might think you're unfamiliar with Chuck E. Weiss, but you're probably incorrect. He became a permanent sidebar to pop culture when Rickie Lee Jones' ode to his romantic bliss "Chuck E.'s In Love" became a huge hit in the '70s. That decade saw the release of some Weiss solo material that went largely unnoticed. After a long recording layoff, veteran L.A. scenester Weiss returns with EXTREMELY COOL. Produced by his longtime buddy TOM WAITS, the album sounds like a slightly more accesible version of Waits' RAIN DOGS-era material, full of purposefully primitive percussion, artfully twisted, blindingly eclectic arrangements and gravelly, mad-dog vocals. Weiss' is a vision of America that effectively blends trailer park, carnival and freak show. His compositions are much more conventional than those of Waits (who cowrote a couple of tunes here), but the production takes them just as far from the mainstream as Waits' weirdest.
Review: Chuck E. Weiss can boast amazing credentials. Back in the 60s, he toured with Lightnin' Hopkins as a drummer. He later performed or recorded with Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon. During the 70s, he lived in Hollywood's famed Tropicana Motel, which was home to his best friend, Tom Waits. In fact, he is immortalized in a Waits song - "Jitterbug Boy (Sharing a Curbstone With Chuck E. Weiss, Robert Marchese, Paul Body and The Mug and Artie)" on the Spare Change album.
This is Chuck E. Weiss's second album (the other was back in 1981). The line-up of supporting musicians and guests is impressive, including Tom Waits and Tony Gilkyson (Lone Justice, X). The album is strong from start to finish, and conjures the same sort of film-noir, gutter-room images and characters as mid-70s Tom Waits.
The first song - "Devil With Blue Suede Shoes" - is a bluesy, swampy, devil-chasin' rocker that kicks like a rodeo bull. The following track - "Deeply Sorry" - is laced with burlesque horns and some very twisted lyrics. These tracks are the true standouts on this fine album. Let's hope Weiss finds his way back into the studio a little more quickly next time.”
01 - Devil with Blue Suede Shoes - 5:02
02 - Deeply Sorry - 5:16
03 - Oh Marcy - 2:55
04 - Pygmy Fund - 3:07
05 - It Rains On Me - 2:34
06 - Sonny Could Lick all Them Cats - 3:33
07 - Jimmy Would - 2:38
08 - Extremely Cool - 4:45
09 - Just Don't Care - 2:37
10 - Roll On Jordan - 2:16
11 - Do You Know What I Idi Amin - 5:36
12 - Horseface - 3:07
13 - Rocking in the Kibbitz Room - 3:36
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