Call for Music Writers... Rock, Indie, Hip-hop, R&B, Electronic, Americana, Metal, World and More

cover art


White Pepper

(Elektra; US: 2 May 2000)

"This is who?"

Keeping up with Dean and Gene Ween over the years has been no easy task. Having done everything from fabulous four track recordings to recording country albums in Nashville with legends of that genre to issuing overtly psychedelic pieces such as The Mollusk, Ween has refused to be pinned down to any one style, carving out its own unique niche in rock music. That being said, it should have come as no surprise when the boys “settled down” and released their pop masterpiece White Pepper.

Some fans I know really didn’t care for this work, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t. To me it sounds like Dean and Gene had listened to a healthy dose of 10cc and turned the influence inside out. The single “Even If You Don’t” was positively one of the catchiest things they’ve ever put out, and yes that’s even including “Push Th’ Little Daisies”. Traces of Graham Gouldman can be heard all throughout the song, as well many parts of the rest of the album.

Indeed, after hearing what amounts to a “serious” side of Ween with the three opening cuts, “Exactly Where I’m At”, “Flutes of Chi”, and “Even If You Don’t”, fans may begin to wonder where all the jokes went. Well, they’re here too in the lyrics of “Bananas and Blow” and “Stroker Ace”. Every time I listen to “Bananas and Blow” and its steel drums, I can’t help but get the feeling that this is the ultimate goofball song that Jimmy Buffett had always wished he penned. Thank God he didn’t. I can’t imagine Buffett singing about cocaine like this and having his annoying legions of Parrotheads chant along with him. They’d completely miss the joke. “Stroker Ace” on the other hand name drops Dick Trickle while giving a nod back to Ween’s earlier days on GodWeenSatan: The Oneness and The Pod.

Not everything works here, but I’ve yet to hear an entire Ween album where everything did. “The Grobe” feels like a leftover from The Mollusk sessions (an album I never really cared for at all), and the instrumental “Ice Castles” goes nowhere slowly. However, the glistening pop sheen of “Stay Forever” and the silly “Pandy Fackler” more than make up for the difference. It’s nice to hear Ween stretch out in its full band regalia, being augmented by Claude Coleman, Dave Dreiwitz, and Glenn McClelland. Chris Shaw’s production also makes for a tight listening experience this time around.

While Ween may have lost some fans with White Pepper (they regained myself, as I had pretty much written them off after The Mollusk), Dean and Gene have created a great album here that fits nicely with all their other works that bear repeated listenings. I missed the group when they came into my neck of the woods with the White Pepper tour, which I kind of regret, but having read the official reports on the band’s website (, that may have been for the better. At any rate, it will be interesting to see which route the boys take next. Perhaps next time they’ll do a new age album. I shudder to think.

Tagged as: ween
Related Articles
9 Jul 2014
Whether you're at the beach or just hanging out in the backyard, these timeless summer classics are sure to make the summer sun shine a little bit brighter.
15 Jan 2012
Did they reach their goal of one hundred songs? No. But it didn't matter. I had witnessed the best Ween show this jaded fan has seen in over a decade of actively following the band.
15 Sep 2010
PopMatters conducts an interview with co-founder of oddball rock outfit Ween in a rather unique environment: out at sea, fishing... and boy does Dean Ween have some choice words about the state of the music industry.
2 Mar 2009
“I think we’re in rare form,” quips Dean halfway through track one. “I’m not sure.” With Ween, can you ever be sure?

Visit PopMatters's profile on Pinterest.
discussion by
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks

© 1999-2015 All rights reserved.™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.