12 Golden Country Greats

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12 Golden Country Greats
Studio album by
ReleasedJuly 16, 1996 (1996-07-16)
RecordedNovember 2–8, 1995
GenreCountry,[1] country rock
ProducerBen Vaughn
Ween chronology
Chocolate and Cheese
12 Golden Country Greats
The Mollusk
Singles from 12 Golden Country Greats
  1. "Piss Up a Rope"
    Released: 1996
  2. "You Were the Fool"
    Released: 1996
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic4/5 stars[1]
Entertainment WeeklyC–[2]
Rolling Stone2/5 stars[5]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3/5 stars[6]
Sputnikmusic4.5/5 stars[8]

12 Golden Country Greats is Ween's fifth album, and third on Elektra Records.

This album marked the first time Ween limited themselves to a specific genre of music. According to producer and friend of the band Ben Vaughn, Ween asked him to produce the album as he had already been working with musicians on the Nashville country scene, having produced Arthur Alexander's Lonely Just Like Me album and co-written songs with Rodney Crowell and Gary Nicholson. Although they managed to get many highly regarded country musicians to play on the album, some, such as keyboardist Bobby Emmons (who also served as a church deacon) and Danny Davis, turned them down due to the "blue" nature of much of their material. The session musicians were responsible for almost all instrumentation on the album: the only instrumental parts recorded by the core members of the band were guitar solos by Dean and Gene on "I Don't Wanna Leave You on the Farm" and "Fluffy" respectively.[9] The legendary Bradley's Barn was chosen for recording the album. Later, Ween would assemble some of the session musicians again into a touring band dubbed The Shit Creek Boys.

Album title[edit]

There are purported to be three theories about the album title but it is likely a homage to Throbbing Gristle's 20 Jazz Funk Greats which had only 13 tracks and is an early industrial album. Such juxtaposition is not lost on Ween, choosing to do a country record, which was far removed from their usual repertoire. However, they went further and actually hired the best session musicians Nashville had and tried to create the 'golden age' sound of country, albeit with Ween's particular humorous and idiosyncratic additives.

This theory is not a stretch as they have other examples, notably the album cover art of Ween's second album The Pod[10] was a copy of the album cover art for The Best of Leonard Cohen.

Track listing[edit]

1."I'm Holding You"4:02
2."Japanese Cowboy"3:01
3."Piss Up a Rope"3:33
4."I Don't Wanna Leave You on the Farm"2:44
5."Pretty Girl"2:35
6."Powder Blue" (3:13 on repressed versions of the album)4:16
7."Mister Richard Smoker"2:42
8."Help Me Scrape the Mucus off My Brain"2:45
9."You Were the Fool"4:26

In the tradition of country music, during the song "Powder Blue" Gene introduces each member of the band who then plays a short solo on their instrument. The original version runs for 4:16 and ends with a sample from Muhammad Ali. Ween were denied permission to use the sample by Ali's lawyers, but Elektra pressed the album accidentally. Repressings of the album contain a cut version, causing the song to abruptly end after the introduction "Ladies & Gentlemen, I'd like to present Muhammad Ali".

Gene sings every song except "Piss up a Rope" and "Help me Scrape the Mucus off my Brain," which feature Dean on vocals.

The melody of "Japanese Cowboy" closely resembles that of "Chariots of Fire" by Vangelis: the band has played the two songs as a medley in live shows.[9]

"Help Me Scrape the Mucus Off My Brain" is a riff on Merle Haggard's "If We Make It Through December", featuring a nearly identical melody but played much faster than Haggard's much more somber original.


Reviews for the album were mostly positive. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic called it "as satisfying as any of their records, and gutsier, too", despite interpreting "Mister Richard Smoker" as being homophobic. He awarded the album 4 stars out of 5. Ethan Smith of Entertainment Weekly railed the album, describing the entire album as having songs "notable more for their homophobia, misogyny, and racism than for anything funny", and gave the album a C−. Sputnikmusic's Zachary Powell gave the album 4 and a half stars out of 5 and claimed that "Writing songs about similar themes to what country songs have been written about but including their personal brown touch is what the band does best." Another writer of the same site, Bill Thomas, gave the album 4 out of 5.

In a 2011 interview, Vaughn remarked that when the album was released many Ween fans were confused by the radical break with the band's previous sound, comparing it to the fan reception given to Neil Young's album Trans.[9]


"Piss Up a Rope" was released as a single by Elektra and features the tracks "You Were the Fool" and "So Long, Jerry" (a tribute to Jerry Garcia, recorded during the 12 Golden Country Greats sessions but not used on the album.)

"Piss Up a Rope" was also released as a 7-inch single on Diesel Only Records, featuring another non-album track recorded during the 12 Golden Country Greats sessions – "Sweet Texas Fire".



  1. ^ a b Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "12 Golden Country Greats". Allmusic. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
  2. ^ Ethan Smith. "12 Golden Country Greats". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  3. ^ Cigarettes, Johnny (1998). "Ween - 12 Golden Country Greats". NME. Archived from the original on 2000-08-17. Retrieved 2018-06-18.
  4. ^ "Ween 12 Golden Country Greats". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on 2000-05-20. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  5. ^ Flaum, Eric (1996-08-08). "Ween: 12 Golden Country Greats". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2007-10-01. Retrieved 2018-06-18.
  6. ^ Sarig, Roni (2004). "Ween". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. pp. 864–65. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  7. ^ Norris, Chris (August 1996). "Ween 12 Golden Country Greats". Spin. p. 103. Retrieved 2018-06-18.
  8. ^ Zachery Powell (2006-10-10). "Ween 12 Golden Country Greats". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
  9. ^ a b c Wilkening, Matthew (16 July 2016). "Ween Producer Ben Vaughn Details the Making of '12 Golden Country Greats'". Taste of Country. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  10. ^ http://consequenceofsound.net/2013/04/dusting-em-off-ween-the-pod/