Chuck E. Weiss
To call Los Angeles’ Chuck E. Weiss a bluesman is like calling Mt. Rushmore a rock. Long a staple on the “hipper” side of La La Land, Weiss started out drumming for Lightin’ Hopkins at age 14. Yowza. Extremely Cool, his first release in over a decade, moves from growling gut-bucket blues (“Devil with the Blue Suede Shoes”) to moody, edge-of-the-bathtub, razor-in-hand emptiness (“It Rains on Me”). From the Cajun “Deeply Sorry” to the driving honk of “Jimmy Would,” Weiss assimilates musical moods like a chameleon does colors. Vocally, he’s reminiscent of buddy and co-producer Tom Waits, with a touch of that Captain Beefheart singing like Howlin’ Wolf gruffness that makes ya wanna check to see if your mojo is working.
As you would imagine, any friend of Waits is gonna have a few kinks. The song “Do You Know What I Idi Amin?” is as bizarre as the title would suggest, stream of conscious, blues-style. And for a man who was the inspiration for Rickie Lee Jones’ “Chuck E’s in Love,” he sure seems to have a hard time with the ladies. The lyrics from the title cut give us an indication: “My woman would rather ride that Harley Davidson than me/ Of course that’s why I love her so extremely cool.” We’re not even gonna talk about “Pygmy Fund” or “Rocking in the Kibbutz Room” – you’re gonna have to spin the platter to suss those out. So if you’re tired of the same old blues, check out Chuck E. Weiss. His Extremely Cool is hot. Rykodisc, Shetland Park, 27 Congress St., Salem, MA 01970; http://www.rykodisc.com