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Pete Weiss And The Rock Band - We're An American Band

  by John Clarkson

published: 17 / 12 / 2001

Pete Weiss And The Rock Band - We're An American Band
Label: Section 304
Format: CD


The front cover of the farewell 'Pete Weiss and the Rock Band' CD 'We're an American Band', with its psychedelic and pink artwork, is a parody of the sleeve of the classic 1967 'Cream' album 'Disrael

The front cover of the farewell 'Pete Weiss and the Rock Band' CD 'We're an American Band', with its psychedelic and pink artwork, is a parody of the sleeve of the classic 1967 'Cream' album 'Disraeli Gears'. The back, which has single black and white stills of each of the three of the members of the group, is reminiscent of the cover of The Beatles 'Let it Be', and the whole of this impressive and enjoyable recording is a similarly part reverential, part tongue-in-cheek homage and tribute to sixties and seventies rock. One of the most important members of the Boston independent music scene ,Pete Weiss is an established record producer, mixer and engineer. Theco-owner of Zippah Studios which he founded in 1989, he has worked with acts that include 'The Willard Grant Conspiracy', Paula Kelley, 'The John Huss Moderate Combo', 'Magic 12', 'Revivalist', Charlie Chesterman and former 'Velvet Underground' members, Moe Tucker and Doug Yule. Weiss is also a talented songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, and recruiting himself as bassist, formed The Rock Band with guitarist Stephen Fredette and drummer Emily Jackson in 1995. The group's thirty six track self-titled debut album was recorded in scattered bursts at Zippah over the course of a year, and combining elements of jazz, blues, country, surf, punk, garage and guitar rock with surreal and offbeat humour, was released in 1998. Initially conceived of as a 5 song EP of unconventional covers, 'We're an American Band', its follow-up, was enhanced into a full-length album when Fredette decided to take an extended break from music at the end of last year and the band, as a result, chose to amicably split, playing their farewell show in November. The five cover songs start the album, and the CD begins with a blistering re-recording of the 1973 'Grand Funk' hard rock hit 'We're an American Band', which, with the regular Rock Band expanded from a three to a five piece and with Jackson switching to organ, also features Malcolm Travis of 'Sugar' fame on drums and Fredette's brother, David, on lead guitar. One of the less well-known tracks from 'Let It Be', 'One after 909' , is next up. Re-entitled for this record 'Jeden Pop 909', and with Weiss and Fredette singing their joint vocals in unison, it has been translated into a different language (which language is left up to the discerning listener). There are also included amongst the covers a version of Frank Zappa and the Mother of Inventions' acoustic and brief 'Bow Tie Daddy', pulled from that group's 1968 record 'We're Only In It for the Money' ; an obscure, psychedelic 'T Rex' number 'Seagull Woman' and a heavily layered version of one of the tracks from 'Disraeli Gears', 'SWLABR'. The remaining five songs are all original. 'Zippah Studio Theme' is a one minute radio jingle about Weiss's work place and has the producer, backed by a team of Motown style backing singers, mimicking Vivien Stanshall and 'Tubular Bells' as he introduces the different instruments in his studio. 'Overflow' is an up-tempo, but bizarre balladic rocker and love song, set against the background of a flood, while the equally surreal 'Boogie Me Timbers' (a video of which appears as part of the interactive package which accompanies this album) is a twangy bluesy number and has regular Zippah studio musician, Jeb Ensslen, providing a monologue as a drunken pirate. 'Don't Go 1999' is an up-dating of a song that appears on the first album, and reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac's 'Albatross', is a mellow and serene instrumental, while the last official number 'Pukin' Rap', the band's one foray into the eighties and nineties, is a hip hop track and, as its title suggests, combines vomit and rap. Also included at the end of the album are various hidden tracks, including a Hawaiian-style string instrumental 'The Sparkling Waters of Waikiki' which the band found on an old 78rpm minute record and have reprised here and that brings the album to a final close. On this album, as on their last album, The Rock Band have combined humour with musical prowess and energy, breathing new life into old songs and on the new ones showing and displaying genuine inventiveness. At one level satirical, 'We're an American Band' has at another level been compiled with a deep affection and regard for music in many of its different forms. While certainly a funny record, it is also an eclectic one and the musical depth and versatility on show , and Weiss and his band's ability to seemingly effortlessly flit from style to style, make this an album, as with its predecessor, that one can turn to time and time again. Weiss and Jackson are already back working together and have formed a new four piece band 'The Weisstronauts', which will play all original songs and have already started rehearsing and playing shows. With an album promised eventually, it seems that their unique brand of satirical rock will be back with us soon.

Track Listing:-
1 We're An American Band
2 Jeden Pop 909
3 Bow The Daddy
4 Seagull Woman
5 Swalabr
6 Zippah Studio Theme
7 Overflow
8 Boogie Me Timbers
9 Don't Go 99
10 Punkin Rap

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