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Album: Self-Titled (The Blue Album)
#297 on the Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums
Rivers Cuomo - Vocals/Guitar
Brian Bell - Guitar/Vocals
Matt Sharp - Bass/Vocals
Patrick Wilson - Drums
The post-grunge rock scene was full of music that was trying to shed the expansive shadow looming from Seattle with more lighthearted songs and a brighter outlook. There was Green Day gaining popularity on the pop/punk end, Sublime's rise to the top before Brad's suicide (overdose, if you want to pretend) for the skater/surfer culture, and there was Weezer. If you're anything like me, you've been into them since their first album came out a decade ago (makes ya feel old, don't it?), stood by them when Pinkerton
arrived, sobbed at The Green Album, and had mixed emotions on Maladroit
. They've gone through a couple of bassists since Matt left in the post-Pinkerton
days and lost some friends (original fan club members Mykel and Carli), but they've kept it together otherwise. In celebration of the deluxe version of this album, which comes out on March 22nd in the U.S. in tandem with a separate DVD, here is what started it and what is undeniably a must-have of the 90's.
My Name Is Jonas -
Jason Cropper, the guitarist who left as Brian Bell joined the band, is credited for the acoustic intro here. That cuts away and the "rock out with your cock out" part comes in with Rivers singing "My name is Jonas. I'm carrying the wheel!" Thus begins an album with hooks that stick around like crazy glue on fake fingernails. I've never cared too much to analyze the lyrics but that's not a problem unless you're anal about that stuff. Besides, all I can think about when listening to it is the book The Giver
anyway and I know it's not about that. Just sit back and enjoy it for what it's worth.
No One Else -
The good twin to Pinkerton's
"No Other One," "No One Else" starts off with a simple powerchord trod and leads into Rivers singing about a girl not meeting unreasonable expectations and him ditching her. That doesn't keep the song from kicking your as
s any less. It can be said that Andrew W.K. owes more than a little to Weezer for the guitar part to "Party Hard". Whereas AWK has somewhat idiotic lyrics about partying, Weezer has simple-but-effective words penned down with another rocking song.
The World Has Turned And Left Me Here -
The title says it all. Starts off with acoustics, then the distorted guitars, and then into the chorus. This track is a little bit slower than the previous two, but it doesn't disrupt the flow of the album as a whole. What do you do when a girl leaves you and there's nothing to fill the space? You write a song about it. Four points for Rivers and a bullseye for the band.
Buddy Holly -
If Weezer will be remembered for any one song and video, this would be it. After "Undone (The Sweater Song)," this was released as a single. Rivers gives off a little humor in the lyrics, if only for being a nerdy white guy and singing "What's with these homeys, dissing my girl? Why do they gotta front?" without sounding forced. The video, if you're too young to remember or don't get out often, is a splicing of the band playing in 50s fashion onto the stage of Arnold's from the old TV show, Happy Days. They got a lot of acclaim for originality and technical skill on the video and people fell for the song, which was a sweet, catchy-as-hel
love song. The end of the guitar solo is also regarded as one of the most memorable solos ever.
Undone (The Sweater Song) -
The first single, released in late 1993 (if memory serves correct), starts slow with the famous G-C-D-C arpeggio and conversations between Pat and others in the background concerning a "party after the show". Originally, Rivers had written it about the last call for tickets on a train as it pulls away, that it was a more somber song about loneliness, but it turned into an anthem with its odd, canine-friendly video and angular chorus of "If you want to destroy my sweater, pull this thread as I walk away[...]". The band lets loose for a little while with solos and whatnot before ending with some nice John Cage-like dissonance and piano tinkering.
Surf Wax America -
Weezer concerts have their "freak out" to this song on a regular basis. Given Rivers' status as a Kiss fan, emo posterboy, and all-around King of Geek Rock, his praise of surfing and giving the world a middle finger makes the song a little ironic but nonetheless effective and fully deserving of a freak-out. A breakdown with falsetto vocals and minimal instrumentation ends with the return to the chorus and the song is over with a triumphant "YEAH!" and powerchord romping.
Say It Ain't So -
This was the last single from the album with a simple video featuring the band doing the song in a small space in a garage, in front of a washing machine & dryer (the house with the garage being used by its current owners for Weezer-related events to this day). It is also the saddest song on the album, in both the mood of the music and the lyrics pertaining to Rivers' father being an alcoholic. Everyone from The Deftones to Finch to mediocre ska bands has covered this song. A bluesy guitar intro begins (expanded when repeated elsewhere in the song), going into a ska-tinged verse with Rivers singing a little quieter than elsewhere while Matt grooves through the memorable baby-stepping bassline. When that chorus kicks in, in all its distorted glory, it hits with the force of Job's wife as she's turned to salt upon looking back to Gomorrah. What could possibly make it more powerful? Well, when it hits the second time, the bending of one note makes the song far more intense than one note usually does. At the bridge, Rivers lets out a sobering (no pun intended) stanza that intends to speak to his estranged father, ending dramatically as he screams the last line, leading into another climactic, highly emotional guitar solo. The chorus hits one last time before returning to the clean, bluesy intro, the last notes of which fade to silence.
In The Garage -
An acoustic guitar and a harmonica keep the mood dim as Rivers describes a safe haven for his "stupid songs" and "stupid words," where he can be what he is without having to be self-conscious. Marvel Comics characters, Dungeons & Dragons, and Kiss all are role-called as the song goes on. Without being whiney (a point the emo kids after him have clearly missed), he illustrates being involved in the less-than-"cool" activities that many can relate to but fear rejection for expressing their interest. Dry those eyes after these last two tracks, though.
Hooray! Weezer is happy again! Another carefree song about taking a vacation and getting away from it all! Get lost? Sure! Have no clue what the locals are saying? That's alright! At least it's getting away! A keyboard doubled by guitar starts us off into more powerchord fun. Another quiet breakdown, this one with Matt singing a nice bass part and Rivers coming in later to reference Kerouac, and it's back to rocking. The song ends with tandem vocals singing "Let's go away!" and "On a holiday!" as if it is about to start as soon as the band finishes up. Instead, the last song is next.
Only In Dreams -
The Pixies' influence is here with a penetrating bass line. Rivers delicately sings about a girl and his best bet being to dream about her. Like the rest of this album, fans love this one. Just as "Undone (The Sweater Song)" had a jam/rock out part earlier in the album, "Only In Dreams" does the same, but much longer and more structured. When played live, fog machines are often used and confetti flies down onto the crowd and it is truly an experience. All good things must come to an end, however, and after 8 minutes, the track and, consequently, the album closes out with the same bass line that started the song off.
As I said, this is a must-have album. If you're looking for technical prowess and virtuosos at work, you won't find it. Instead, The Blue Album
is full of hooks, powerchord exercises, slap-you-in-the-face-and-sting-for-days lyrics, and simply unforgettable songs from start to finish. If for some reason you do not own this album, change that immediately.
Anyone and everyone can enjoy this album. It's just about the only thing that everyone in my entire extended family can agree on.
5/5, in every sense of the rating. What else can I say? Either you should have this album or you should be on your way out the door to get it, even if you were going to get the deluxe edition anyway. Are the stores closed because it's too late/too early? Go to [url]www.amazon.com[/url] then.