Ween

At the Cat's Cradle, 1992

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There are plenty of official Ween live albums in the band's catalog, but none captured the early years when Dean and Gene toured on their own -- supported only by a DAT machine -- until At the Cat's Cradle, 1992 appeared at the close of 2008. During those years, the duo would blow through roughly 20 songs in an hour and it was possible for the band to keep that pace because the DAT allowed no room for improvisation: when the tape was done, the song was done. This could make for great or terrible shows but often the differences were subtle, depending on the mood of either the crowd or the bandmembers themselves rather than changes in the set list, because Dean and Gene were tied to that DAT machine. Many die-hard fans still look upon this time quite fondly -- some are so set in their ways that they think this is the peak of the band -- but upon listening to At the Cat's Cradle it becomes clear why Ween started touring with a full band a couple of years later: compared to the wild, freewheeling latter-day live albums, this is a bit constrained. Of course, those limits are part of the charm of this set, too, as Ween did a lot with very little: they could sound gnarled and ugly, as they do on "Cover It with Gas and Set It on Fire," then turn it around and be stiffly funky on "The Goin' Gets Tough from the Getgo." Some of the songs from GodWeenSatan and The Pod actually sound fuller here on-stage -- that's especially true of harder rockers like "Captain Fantasy" and "You Fucked Up" -- but the Pure Guava selections (along with "Buckingham Green," which wouldn't surface on a studio album for another five years) do suggest that they need a little more muscle to do the material justice. But At the Cat's Cradle is more than just a curio because it does capture Ween at the crossroads: it has the weird brown sound of their earliest years but it also illustrates why they had to leave it behind as well. [At the Cat's Cradle, 1992 also contains a 17-track DVD of live performances from Ween in 1992.]

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1
blue highlight denotes track pick