Recorded at Bradley's Barn, Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, on November 2-8, 1995.
Personnel: Gene Ween, The Jordanaires (vocals); Pete Wade (guitar, dobro, 6-string bass); Dean Ween (guitar); Charlie McCoy (banjo, harmonica, trumpet, tuba, organ, vibraphone, percussion); Buddy Blackman (banjo); Buddy Spicher (mandolin, fiddle); Denis Solee (clarinet); Hargus "Pig" Robbins, Bobby Ogdin (piano); Gene Chrisman, Buddy Harman (drums).
Recording information: Bradley's Barn, Mount Juliet, TN (11/02/1995-11/08/1995).
As the title implies, this is Gene and Dean Ween's Nashville move. And for those familiar with the duo's flexible and comedic musical nature: no, they're not faking the cowboy swagger or shedding counterfeit tears in their beers just for the sake of digging through the one genre their previous records didn't excavate. Backed by a who's who of Music City session players, Ween has produced an authentic update of the late-'60s/early-'70s countrypolitan sound--weepy pedal steel, footloose harmonica, boogie piano, the Jordanaires crooning in the background, pristine production, pretty much all the fixins.
But if you're looking for a collection of cornball breakup songs and half-baked cowboy tales, well, as Judas Priest says, you've got another thing coming. Gene and Dean, after all, have their own standards to live up to; and they've never above lowering them. So the breakup song ("Piss Up A Rope") is viciously upbeat; the sinner's repentance is titled "Help Me Scrape The Mucus Off My Brain"; and even the one serious song, the Lennon-esque "You Were The Fool," contains the kind of cosmic couplets country fans would normally have to reach pretty far afield (toward, say, Gram Parsons) to find. Such Ween-foolery allows Gene and Dean to have their country, in a most heartfelt way, and eat it too.
Spin (8/96, p.103) - Reasonably Good - "...What makes 12 GOLDEN COUNTRY GREATS a decent Ween record is its transposition of real country into the world of post-indie-rock smart-asses..."
Q (9/96, p.124) - 3 Stars - Good - "...mimicking a myriad of country styles and stereotypes while lyrically tipping the stetson towards the stoned yoof of alternative America..."
Alternative Press (10/96, p.108) - "...Not only have Ween gone country, but they've done it up right....The results are as perverse as ever, juxtaposing fairly mainstream musical arrangements...with bizarre lyrics and imagery..."
Melody Maker (8/3/96, p.50) - Recommended - "...Bitter, nerdish misogyny was never conveyed with such tender beauty as on this album..."