Review Summary: This is not much of an 'album', it's more or less a miscellanious 'collection' with some great outtakes from over the years, but a lot of random filler.
In all honesty, Weezer releasing a epic ‘space opera’ after their pop-rock 60s styled The Blue Album
would not have went over well. In fact, the initial reception would have most likely been worse than Pinkerton
’s initial reception. Rivers Cuomo is, in fact an ambitious musician who has all the talent and ambition to become one of rock’s greats, but despite all of Blue
’s greatness, it labeled Weezer as a band that was cheery Pop-Rock with not much depth or substance. Rivers Cuomo was much more than that label, he wanted to take the world by storm, be inventive, original, cryptic, and fun. And, for the most part, despite the obvious pitfalls along Weezer’s career, they’ve done just that. With each album, they change their sound, inconsistent as their discography may be. They know how to keep their sound fresh, original, and inviting to all. Take for example, Buddy Holly
, their famous single of the 1990s was released in 1994. Beverly Hills
, their most famous (yet loathed by their fanbase) single was released in 2006. To say Weezer has had massive staying power is an easy statement for anyone. The reason, however, Weezer has had massive staying power is because they never fall to far away from the tried and true on record; and the album which strays away from the tried and true (Pinkerton
) was an initial commercial disaster.
But, still, Rivers Cuomo is an ambitious musician who wants to be known for putting together some truly experimental and massive earth-shattering works of art. Throughout the years, off the record, Rivers Cuomo has been quietly demoing tracks, messing around with his guitar, and stockpiling unreleased tracks in his basement. Weezer is legendary for its small catalogue, as despite being around since 1994, they’ve released five albums, three EPs (one of which features, like two Christmas songs) and a DVD. That’s it; no B-Sides collection, or anything of the sort. So, in 2007 Rivers Cuomo decided it was time to release the stuff he wants to make, the stuff he makes self-indulgently, without having the public to tell him what Weezer is, and what he wants Weezer to be. These remastered demos and outtakes depict what Weezer could have, and should have been throughout the years.
Despite the rather pointless seeming release of the album, there is plenty of substance found here. There’s a lot of tracks that only feature Cuomo messing around with his guitar and vocal manipulation software; but there is still a lot of good stuff with plenty of substance. Obviously the Songs from the Black Hole
songs kick the most tail and provide the most substance. Longtime Sunshine
has a Wild West-theme to it courtesy of the piano he used, and the vocals evoke a lot of emotion-some of the most emotion I’ve ever heard portrayed in a Weezer song. The song is quite solemn and emotional, and is easily one of the best song’s Cuomo’s ever composed. Same goes for the infamous introduction to Black Hole
, Blast Off!
. Us Weezer fans have been screaming for a mastered version of Blast Off!
. Just like we would have figured, it’s thrashing, short, and has a significant space feel, mostly because of the vocal effects towards the end. And just like it was meant, Blast Off!
fades directly into Who You Callin’ Bitch?
which is just a little interlude, but the two tracks together provides a multiple-personality track with a standard length that are perfectly done. After yet another acoustic, Wild West sounding ballad heavy on emotions with Wanda (You’re My Only Love)
, it’s back to the Black Hole
tracks in Dude, We’re Finally Landing
which is rather pointless and strange. It was most likely aimed as a filler track in the legendary unreleased album, but the strange barbershop quartet style is strange, and the song has no point on the album. But however Superfriend
is much more of a track, it has an overwhelming Pinkerton
-era feel, and is extremely gritty. It gets repetitive quick, but has a strange, depressing feeling to it.
The reason most of us fans bought this album was for the Black Hole
songs, but there is more than Black Hole
leftovers on here. Some are good, some are pointless, some are openly strange. The Bomb
, an Ice Cube cover, being the latter. I’ve honestly never heard Rivers sing that fast and aggressive in my life. The Buddy Holly
version is also a bit of a head-scratcher. It’s not unmastered, but it’s like the track was slowed down ridiculously on the recording, as every voice is distorted and pulled apart, the guitars are extremely fuzzy and heavy, and the tempo is quite down. Crazy One
, for example is what you’d get if you took The Blue Album
, then you threw them in a blender. The I Wish You Had an Axe Guitar
“track” is really pointless, but apparently Cuomo deemed it necessary for the album; because it’s 36 seconds of him and a friend during their childhood arguing over what an Axe guitar actually is. I Was Made for You
is a track that is total Blue
material, it’s slow-burning, epic, and emotional. It screams hugely successful single, it’s beyond me how it wasn’t the first single.
If you look at Rivers’ Alone: The Home Recordings
as a whole album, you’ll be gravely disappointed and throw it to the wayside because it seems pointless. But if you listen for a modest amount of tracks that have depth, substance, and span Weezer’s career, you’ll strike gold. The Black Hole
tracks are excellent outside of the filler as Blast Off!
is epic, and Longtime Sunshine
is an emotional blow, perfectly subdued with solemnity. It’s fun to hear Rivers just messing around with his guitar, recording Ice Cube covers, because it allows you to see the roots of Weezer as we know it. Some may see it as pointless and a scheme for more money, but it’s not, it’s a collection of tracks us Weezer fans have wanted to hear for the past ten years.