Long before Navin R. Johnson, as played by Steve Martin in The Jerk, found out what his “Special Purpose” was for, his father gave him some advice about life:
Father : Son, now that you’re going out into the world, there’s something you should know. You see that?
Navin : Yeah.
Father : That’s shit. And this, shinola.
Navin : Shit, shinola.
Father : Son, you’re going to be all right.
Gene and Dean Ween must have had similar discussions during their childhood as well, for Shinola is anything but shit.
For most bands, the release of a B-sides/rarities/unreleased disk is a signaling of the end. It’s generally a way to cash in ones chips before a band’s entire bubble bursts and the fans interested in buying anything from them dissipates to virtually no one. For Ween, it was more likely a combination of two things: First, a way to give the fans properly mastered, high quality versions of songs that have been traded and circulating for years; and secondly, to shut up their fans while they work on a new album.
With Ween, either you know them and love them, or you have poor taste in music. It is really that simple and the twelve tracks on Shinola prove this yet again. Starting off with the dirty and raw “Tastes Good on th’ Bun”, a track previously released as part of the Craters of the Sack Internet-only album, we are welcomed to what is going to be something very brown. From here on out, things go a variety of ways. There are the upbeat tracks, the love songs, the funk, the instrumentals and slow hazy “jams” and even a Jewish prayer.
One of my more favorite Portland memories was last fall when I was hanging out at Union Jacks and was able to witness a girl strip to the second song on the album, “Boys Club”. That girl earned some extra money from me because of this song. I feel she should write Ween a thank you letter for this! In fact, everyone should write Ween a thank you letter…and pick up Shinola and everything they have released while at it.