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23rd & Stout
     

23rd & Stout

3.0 1
by Chuck E. Weiss
 
After more than 30 years in the music biz, Chuck E. Weiss is still best known (a) as one of Tom Waits' best friends, and (b) for being the subject of Rickie Lee Jones' hit "Chuck E.'s in Love." The latter distinction hasn't done much for him lately, but he seems to be counting on the former to draw interest in his fourth album,

Overview

After more than 30 years in the music biz, Chuck E. Weiss is still best known (a) as one of Tom Waits' best friends, and (b) for being the subject of Rickie Lee Jones' hit "Chuck E.'s in Love." The latter distinction hasn't done much for him lately, but he seems to be counting on the former to draw interest in his fourth album, 23rd & Stout. Most of 23rd & Stout sounds like some unreleased Tom Waits album that walks in a Twilight Zone between the Beefheart-influenced throb of Swordfishtrombones and the laid-back beatnik vibe of Blue Valentine. While it's entirely possible that Waits has borrowed a bit of his buddy Weiss' schtick over the years, there's also little argument that Waits is far better at it, and it doesn't help that Weiss' band here (headlined by Tony Gilkyson on guitar and Don Heffington on drums) isn't able to deliver the gloriously strange groove of Waits' more recent work, though the group sounds great on the jazz-leaning material. When Weiss goes into a shaggy-dog story like the title cut or a lurching stomp such as "Prince Minsky's Lament," it's all but impossible not to compare him to Waits, but in all fairness Weiss is a better than average songwriter, and when he lets his funny side take over (like he does on "Half Off at the Rebop Shop," "Sho Is Cold," or "Piccolo Pete"), he's an enjoyable and absorbing performer. (His sly interpretation of "Primrose Lane" also suggests he could deliver a fine set of standards if he were so inclined.) Too much of 23rd & Stout makes Chuck E. Weiss sound like the Baja Marimba Band to Tom Waits' Tijuana Brass, and the shame of that is he's clearly talented enough establish a more distinctive creative identity by now, as the best moments of this album confirm.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/13/2007
Label:
Cooking Vinyl
UPC:
0711297478327
catalogNumber:
4783

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Chuck E. Weiss   Primary Artist,Vocals,Background Vocals,Washboard
Judy Brown   Vocals
Tony Gilkyson   Acoustic Guitar,Mandolin,Electric Guitar,Background Vocals
Don Heffington   Drums
Phil Parlapiano   Accordion
David Ralicke   Trombone,Saxophone
Jeff Big Dad Turmes   Baritone Saxophone
Steve Nelson Quartet   Electric Bass,Upright Bass
Michael Murphy   Piano
Steve Nelson   Bass Guitar

Technical Credits

Red Callender   Composer
Tony Gilkyson   Composer
Don Heffington   Audio Production
J.J. Holiday   Composer
Ike Turner   Composer
Wayne Shanklin   Composer
Chuck E. Weiss   Composer,Executive Producer,Author
Lynn Coulter   Composer
Danny Katz   Animation
Steve Nelson   Composer

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23rd & Stout 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
Chuck E. Weiss' new album 23rd and Stout seems to defies description. Until you look at the cover art. The words "Deranged Detective Mysteries" are prominently featured along with the title. Weiss can be seen in the corner smoking under a street sign. The scene is smoky, noirish, and a little bizarre. Strangely, it also encompasses the vibe of Weiss' fourth album. In the liner notes, Weiss refers to his music as "discom-bop-ulated jive," a phrase that does much to summarize a group of songs that avoid definition. Anyone familiar with bebop music from the 1940s will recognize its influence here. Weiss' nod to bop artists like Thelonious Monk is particularly obvious in his first track, "Prince Minsky's Lament" with a jazzy sound similar to Monk's instrumental "Round Midnight." The songs feature soft instrumentals with twangy vocals akin to those found in folk or country songs. As a rule, the tracks move slowly. In most of the album, Weiss does not sing. Instead he talks melodiously along with the music, which often takes center stage for significant parts of the songs. Part of the appeal of this eclectic album is that it doesn't take itself too seriously. Several tracks feature vocalists scat singing (jazz singing with random syllables instead of words) in time with the music. Some of the songs can't be called anything but truly random fillers, such as "Man Tan," the lyrics of which repeat the line "oh brother man tan" until the song ends. There doesn't' seem to be any other purpose to the track. "Piccolo Pete" is a particularly amusing track, explaining that Pete has gone to Jesus. "I asked the neighbor what happened. She told she was not aware. I asked another where was he. He told me and this I do swear: `Piccolo Pete's gone to Jesus . . . they say he's in antique heaven." The song goes on to say that Jesus is wearing a sharkskin to further illustrate the album's irreverent mood. Despite the silliness, some songs shine through as more than "rock-and-roll schlock" (another term Weiss ascribes to his music). "Primrose Lane" uses its minimalist lyrics, such as "I wanna walk with you my whole life through," to tell a love story in a classic crooner style. "23rd and Stout," the song from which the album got its name, is similarly evocative. It retells a real incident when Weiss was accosted by a hustler in Denver asking for fifty cents. With its strange lyric choices, this song is reminiscent of Jimmy Buffett's "Why Don't We Get Drunk (and screw)," another oddball song. Weiss and the hustler have a conversation, the song moves into instrumentals, and then Weiss gives him the change. As they part ways, the hustler tells Weiss to tell people on 23rd and Stout that Pork Chop sent him in order to travel the streets without difficulty. His parting words are "You know something you got a bald head of hair." The song then fades out with a series of scat singing. Clearly, there is a lot going on in this album and it might not be something where you'll love every song. Weiss writes, that his reason for recording this album was "because it was the wrong thing to do" but really it was more the unexpected thing to do. 23rd and Stout brings together a wide variety of influences in a mixed bag of songs ranging from crooning to jazz to its swinging final song "Goodbye, So Long"