Chuck E. Weiss – Red Beans and Weiss (2014)

I’ll say it right now: Red Beans and Weiss is the perfect album for the year 2014. In an age when far too many people have their shirt collars cinched up too tight, when everything is supposedly so damned serious, and there are unlimited sets of reasons for why the whole world is going to hell, Chuck E. Weiss is here to say “Lighten up, Francis!”

Well OK, maybe that’s not his actual intent, but Weiss and his crack band stumble and romp through these tunes with such back-alley elan than even the hardest of hearts might have to loosen up and crack a little smile.

Red Beans joyously careens through a bunch of related genres. There’s the south of the border swing of “Hey Pendejo,” the slinky horn-accented shuffle of “Exile On Main St. Blues,” and the dark, loping jazz of “Shushi.” On the sleazier side, we have the rap-meets-funk of “That Knucklehead Stuff.” Come for the rap, stay for the nasty baritone sax.

This record seems most at home in loose-but-tight mode. It sometimes feels like the album the Rolling Stones haven’t made since Some Girls: the opening “Tupelo Joe” is relentless, “Bomb The Tracks” is an off-kilter blues that reminds the ear of the Los Lobos side-project Latin Playboys. For my money, this vibe is best represented by the stomping funk of Boston Blackie.

The album closes with its goofiest track: “Willy’s In The Pee Pee House.” It might sound like a slightly unhinged and unholy marriage of Tom Waits, Randy Newman, and NRBQ but, come on, it quotes the theme from “Rocky and Bullwinkle.” What’s not to love?

Havin’ a bad day? A bad year? Sing along to Red Beans and Weiss in the shower. See? The world ain’t so bad after all.

[amazon_enhanced asin="B00IG2ZMBQ" container="B00136LTXM" container_class="" price="All" background_color="FFFFFF" link_color="000000" text_color="0000FF" /] [amazon_enhanced asin="B000VDDBNO" container="" container_class="" price="All" background_color="FFFFFF" link_color="000000" text_color="0000FF" /] [amazon_enhanced asin="B00000I04N" container="" container_class="" price="All" background_color="FFFFFF" link_color="000000" text_color="0000FF" /] [amazon_enhanced asin="B00INW9NFK" container="B00136LTXM" container_class="" price="All" background_color="FFFFFF" link_color="000000" text_color="0000FF" /] [amazon_enhanced asin="B00005UDPI" container="" container_class="" price="All" background_color="FFFFFF" link_color="000000" text_color="0000FF" /]

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he writes several weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.

Here's where you talk back ...