One of the more entertaining rock bands to emerge in the 1990s was Weezer, another southern California act. If Green Day was the kids you knew in high school who went to punk rock shows and scribbled anarchy symbols on their lockers, Weezer were the dudes who were on the third-place computer programming team who tried to avoid confrontation with the football players in the hallway. Despite their unglamorous appearance, they made some great music videos, have an outstanding sense of humor, and are just a very fun band to appreciate. Their debut album “Weezer”, often known as the “Blue Album”, is rated #294 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Their sound is built around two distorted guitars, with a surprising amount of melodic content to their songs. The vocals blend in but do not dominate the tracks, and it isn’t hard to envision an early version of this band performing at local pizza parlors for free food and Cokes. Clearly their talent caught the eyes of the industry, and this first record was produced by none other than Ric Ocasek from the Cars, which really helps to inform the sound and style of Weezer.
For me, the defining song of this band and this album will always be “Buddy Holly”. I have always loved the self-perceived imagery of a couple as Buddy Holly and Mary Tyler Moore. Honestly, what more could any couple aim for in terms of a comparison? The song is a great, driving pop-rocker with one of my favorite music videos of all time, with the guys performing on the same set and wardrobe as Richie, Potsie and Ralph Malph from “Happy Days”, as they rocked out at Arnold’s. With modernized hipster lyrics and a guitar solo that hits a magical set of notes just before it goes back into the chorus, this song is an all-time favorite for me.
The other two singles from this record we also successful, particularly “Undone – The Sweater Song”. Along with “Say It Ain’t So”, you have two slower grunge-grind, pop-rock blends that have great chord sequences and more nerd-chic lyrics. Unconventional perhaps, but extremely listenable and catchy as well.
The rest of the album reminds me a bit of how I felt about “Fear” by Toad the Wet Sprocket. The other tracks aren’t difficult to listen to, but none of them really stand out as memorable either. The common link is distorted guitar and a unique outlook on life. My favorite of these is probably “Surf Wax America”.
Weezer has really endured and resurfaced many times over the years, which is a testimony to their talent and the staying power of the songs from this and subsequent albums. I have never seen Weezer in concert, but that feels like something I should correct if I get the chance, even if it is at Arnold’s Drive-In or the local pizza barn.