Music Reviews

Chuck E. Weiss

Old Souls and Wolf Tickets

Rykodisc / Slow River

Chuck E. Weiss was immortal before anyone ever heard of him, thanks to Rickie Lee Jones’ first/biggest/only hit single, “Chuck E.’s in Love,” back in 1979. Back then, he was one of Tom Waits’ best friends, a drummer from Denver who’d toured and sung with Willie Dixon back in the days but who’d settled down into soulful obscurity without ever striking it rich on his own. Sure, Chuck E. had great friends (he co-founded the Viper Room with Johnny Depp) and a funky sense of humor (his band is called the G-d Damn Liars), but until 1999’s Extremely Cool hit the streets, he was doomed to musical nowheresville.

But that album, helped as it was by Weiss’ name and legend (and Waits’ help on a couple of tracks) has thrust Chuck E. back into the limelight, and Old Souls and Wolf Tickets is his masterpiece, his magnum opus, his Take-Me-Seriously-Now album. He does everything here: dank blues (“Tony Did the Boogie-Woogie”), beatnik soul (“Blood Alley,” “Sweetie-O”), New Orleans funk (“Congo Square at Midnight,” “Dixieland Funeral”) – you name a hip genre, Chuck E.’s your man.

There are a lot of missteps on this record, so don’t go thinking it’s perfect. “No Hep Cats” is a confused piece that needed a bit more spice in its gumbo-jumbo: it’s just not true that there are “No more greasy spoons/No more cats that croon/To the solid songs going by,” so don’t blame it on there being “no hep cats anymore, that’s why.” And whoever’s idea it was to include a piece from Willie Dixon’s band with “Little Chuck E. Weiss” on vocals from 1970 was probably just getting a little too defensive about Weiss needing street cred. It doesn’t fit, and it seems desperate. And don’t get me started on “Jolie’s Nightmare (Mr. House Dick),” which goes all kinds of haywire before it even starts.

But there are plenty of great things here. I like it when he rocks out, like on the theme song “G-d Damn Liars” and the great “Two-Tone Car (An Auto-body Experience).” He’s got an old, lived-in voice and a strange little mind (how about that Jessica Tandy impression on “Piggly Wiggly,” huh?) and some fire in his belly. I suspect, though, that the next record will be the big one for Mr. Chuck E. Weiss. In the meantime, this ain’t bad.

(Consumer’s note: don’t bother trying to watch the “bonus video track” called “Cub Scout Suit.” That thing has crashed my computer something fierce.)

Rykodisc: http://www.rykodisc.com


Recently on Ink 19...

Joana Pimenta

Joana Pimenta

Interviews

Back in 2018, Lily and Generoso selected Adirley Queirós’s Once There Was Brasilia as a top ten film. That feature’s cinematographer, Joana Pimenta, has now co-directed with Queirós one of the most expansive political films we’ve seen this year, Dry Ground Burning. Lily and Generoso interviewed Pimenta at AFI Fest earlier this month.

ATLive 2022 with Billy Joel

ATLive 2022 with Billy Joel

Event Reviews

Country/rock mashup series ATLive brings Roi J. Tamkin to Atlanta’s Mercedez Benz Stadium for a night of standing ovations starring The Piano Man, Billy Joel.

Miryam Charles

Miryam Charles

Interviews

Director Miryam Charles’s compelling and personal hybrid documentary feature debut, Cette Maison, was a favorite of Lily and Generoso’s at AFI Fest 2022. They spoke at length with Charles during the festival about her film, which examines the emotional impact resulting from her young cousin’s death.

Flaming Ears

Flaming Ears

Screen Reviews

Set in the year 2700 in the imaginary city of Asche, Flaming Ears is a daring micro-budget sci-fi film from 1991 that envisioned a dystopian urban landscape that now seems eerily familiar. Lily and Generoso share their thoughts on the film’s new 4K restoration.