As music journalists scramble to fill up their top-10 lists for the best music of the '90s, it'll be fun to see how many of them include joke-rock band Ween. With "Paintin' the Town Brown: Ween Live '90-'98," brothers Dean and Gene Ween produce convincing documentation for posterity with a two-CD set of live material spanning this decade. With Casio beats and an irreverent approach to the guitar, Ween has always poked fun at rock & roll, but not without making some inventive, ridiculous music in the process.
Disc one presents Ween in their many incarnations: steel-pedal-and-fiddle honky-tonk, cheesy synthesizers, and the topper: a DAT-tape backing band. Death metal meets ZZ Top on the down-and-dirty "Doctor Rock" and "Awesome Sound" (recorded in Amsterdam on one of many tours of the Netherlands). Disc two opens with a 25-minute version of Ween's anthem "Poopship Destroyer," and continues with two more epics, Ween style. The band may have started as a joke, but now the joke's on you: At the close of the decade, Gene and Dean are still going strong with their twisted brand of music.