Chuck E. Weiss was part of Los Angeles’s Tropicana Hotel scene in the seventies, if it can be called that. A friend to both Tom Waits and Rickie Lee Jones (yes, he’s Chuck E. from “Chuck E.’s In Love”), Weiss never managed to gain the same career traction as his buddies.
Albums like 1981’s The Other Side Of Town demonstrate that Weiss was every bit as talented as his peers, so that wasn’t the problem. The album isn’t a consistent suite of songs like one would expect from Tom Waits, though. Weiss swings from piano blues like “Luigi’s Starlight Lounge” to punky power pop like “Gina”:
So that’s one consideration. I don’t think even the mighty Tom Waits could get away with a move like that.
Another thing that may have hampered this album is the record label, Select Records. Select made their name a few years later with rappers like UTFO, The Real Roxanne, and Kid ‘n Play, and novelty albums by The Jerky Boys. I can’t help but wonder if maybe they had no idea what to do with Chuck E., especially considering that the label was founded the same year that this album was released.
Anyway, the man deserves to be more than a Rickie Lee footnote. A vinyl copy of The Other Side of Town is going to set you back somewhere in the $75 to $150 range, but there’s good news: If you just want the music and not the artifact, the album is available for download and was reissued on CD. Happy hunting.