Remember that song, Chuck E’s in Love, by Rickie Lee Jones? Well, there was a real Chuck and today we spotlight one of his records, Old Souls and Wolf Tickets.
Chuck E. Weiss, the ultimate scene-maker has spent a career hobnobbing with the cool and famous in rock’s hierarchy while barely pursuing a career of his own. Born in Denver, Weiss was originally a drummer, touring with bluesman Lightnin’ Hopkins. By the late ’60s, Weiss had performed and/or recorded with Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Dr. John, Roger Miller, and others. While still living in Denver, he struck up a friendship with singer/songwriter Tom Waits, later writing songs like “Spare Parts” with him and moving to Los Angeles. Living at West Hollywood’s infamous Tropicana Motel with Waits and singer Rickie Lee Jones, Weiss became the subject of Jones’ hit “Chuck E.’s in Love.” Weiss’ career finally stumbled off the launching pad with the 1981 release of The Other Side of Town, a collection of demo tapes released on Select Records. Rather than follow this up with a proper release, Weiss instead put together a band called the G-d Damn Liars and spent the next 11 years performing a weekly gig at the L.A. nightclub the Central and later partnered with friend Johnny Depp to convert the club into the Viper Room. (AMG)
I bought this CD many moons ago in the basement of a big book store in Washington D.C. I liked the title and the cover picture of what looked Chuck having a tete-a-tete with Taj Mahal. The music inside is a gritty slice of American styles with heavy blues undertones. An New Orleans blues chant opens proceeding (Congo Square at Midnight), which then shift quickly up a gear or two with a shuffling boogie (Tony Did the Boogie Woogie) replete with Hammond B3 and some excellent galumpy guitar picking. Other highlights are a paean to cool wheels (Two Tone Car) and probably Chuck’s most ‘famous’ song, G-d Damn Liars.
All in all this is a very enjoyable album from one of those glue-men of American music: he’s the guy who knows everyone, and glues the careers of so many larger stars together.
01 Congo Square at Midnight
02 Tony Did the Boogie Woogie
03 It Didn’t Happen Overnight
05 Piggly Wiggly
06 Two-Tone Car (an auto-body experience)
07 Anthem for Old Souls
08 Sneaky Jesus
09 Down the Road a Piece
10 No Hep Cats
11 Jolie’s Nightmare (Mr. House Dick)
12 Blood Alley
13 G-d Damn Liars
14 Dixieland Funeral