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Weezer (Blue Album)

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Weezer
Weezer - Blue Album.png
Studio album by
ReleasedMay 10, 1994
RecordedAugust–September 1993
StudioElectric Lady Studios, New York City
Genre
Length41:26
LabelDGC
ProducerRic Ocasek
Weezer chronology
Weezer
(1994)
Pinkerton
(1996)
Singles from Weezer
  1. "Undone – The Sweater Song"
    Released: June 24, 1994
  2. "Buddy Holly"
    Released: September 7, 1994
  3. "Say It Ain't So"
    Released: July 13, 1995

Weezer, also known as the Blue Album, is the self-titled debut studio album by American rock band Weezer, released on May 10, 1994 by DGC Records. It was produced by Cars frontman Ric Ocasek and recorded at Electric Lady Studios in New York City from August to September 1993. Founding guitarist Jason Cropper left during the recording, replaced by Brian Bell.

The album reached number sixteen on the US Billboard 200, and was certified triple platinum. It was supported by the singles "Undone – The Sweater Song", "Buddy Holly", and "Say It Ain't So", which brought Weezer mainstream success, helped by music videos directed by Spike Jonze. By 2009, the album had sold at least 3.3 million copies in the United States and 15 million copies worldwide.[1]

Background[edit]

Weezer was formed on February 14, 1992, in Los Angeles by singer and guitarist Rivers Cuomo, drummer Patrick Wilson, bassist Matt Sharp, and guitarist Jason Cropper.[2] Although they performed future hits including "The Sweater Song" and "Say It Ain't So", Cuomo said they struggled to engage audiences, who wanted to see grunge bands instead.[3]

In an effort to create buzz around LA, Weezer recorded a demo, The Kitchen Tape.[4] This attracted attention from major-label A&R reps looking for alternative rock bands to perform on the same bill as That Dog.[5] Weezer were signed to DGC Records on June 26, 1993, by Todd Sullivan, an A&R rep from Geffen Records.[6]

Recording[edit]

While preparing for the studio sessions, Weezer focused on their vocal interplay by practicing barbershop quartet-style songs, which helped Cuomo and Sharp feel more comfortable collaborating during rehearsals. Sharp, who had never sung before joining Weezer, developed his falsetto: "I had to sing an octave higher than Rivers. After a lot of practice, I started to get it down."[7]

Weezer rehearsed 15 songs in New York in preparation for the Electric Lady Studios recording sessions. Four songs from this rehearsal would not be attempted for the album: "Lullaby for Wayne", "I Swear It's True", "Getting Up and Leaving", and a reprise version of "In the Garage". The other song, an ode to two women who ran the Weezer fanclub called "Mykel & Carli", was attempted during the Electric Lady sessions, but was also abandoned (this recording was later released as a digital bonus track on the 2010 compilation Death to False Metal). A later recording of "Mykel & Carli" was featured as a B-side on the "Undone – The Sweater Song" single.[8]

The band considered self-producing, but were pressured by Geffen to choose a producer. They decided on Ric Ocasek, who had played with the Cars.[9] Ocasek convinced the band to change their guitar pickups from the neck to the bridge, resulting in a brighter sound.[10] Sharp and Cuomo imposed several rules on recording, banning reverb and insisting on all downstrokes on guitar.[11] According to engineer Chris Shaw, the "overriding concept" was to treat the guitars and bass as a single, 10-string instrument, playing in unison. Weezer insisted that the guitars were mixed as loud as those in the Radiohead song "Creep", burying some vocals.[11]

During the recording, Cropper learned that his girlfriend was pregnant and began acting erratically. Weezer collaborator Karl Koch said: "He wasn't handling it well ... he always said he was fine, and then 20 minutes later he'd be up on the roof of Electric Lady screaming or something."[12] According to Cropper, Cuomo told him he could not allow him to jeopardize the band's work and asked him to leave. In 2014, Cropper said Cuomo had made the right decision.[12] Cropper was replaced by Brian Bell.[13] While Bell's vocals appear on some tracks,[14] Cuomo re-recorded all of Cropper's guitar parts.[15] Ocasek recalled: "After [the album] was completely recorded, Rivers came in and said, 'I’m firing the guitar player, and I’m going to do all his guitar parts over.' I said, 'You can’t do that!' But he did. In one take."[16] Bell is still credited for playing guitar in the liner notes. Cropper received a credit on "My Name Is Jonas" for writing the intro.[17]

Artwork[edit]

The album artwork, photographed by American glamour photographer Peter Gowland,[18][19] features Wilson, Cuomo, Sharp, and Bell standing in front of a plain, blue background.[20] Adobe Photoshop was used to digitally alter the cover. Cuomo stated that, while the band liked the photo, Sharp was not happy with the way his head looked. The Geffen Art Director used Photoshop to swap out the head with one from another shot.[21] The image was used prominently in the advertising of the album.[22] The cover received many comparisons to the Feelies' album Crazy Rhythms.[22]

On some vinyl pressings of the album, the cover does not crop off their feet. On the Deluxe Edition case the feet are presented on the back cover, and the band sold an official T-shirt with a shot of the band's feet after the deluxe edition release.[23]

Inside the album booklet, Cuomo pays tribute to his past metal influences with a photo taken in the group's garage on Amherst (this same garage would be featured in the "Say It Ain't So" music video). A poster of Judas Priest's album British Steel is featured on the left side of the photo, while on the right a Quiet Riot concert poster is displayed. The Deluxe Edition features additional photographs of the band and hand-written lyrics for each song.[24]

Promotion[edit]

The first single "Undone – The Sweater Song" was described by Cuomo as "the feeling you get when the train stops and the little guy comes knockin' on your door. It was supposed to be a sad song, but everyone thinks it's hilarious."[25] The video marks one of the early directorial efforts of Spike Jonze, whose pitch was simply "A blue stage, a steadicam, a pack of wild dogs."[26] The video became an instant hit on MTV.[27] The final single, "Say It Ain't So", was inspired by Cuomo believing his parents split up when he was four because he thought his father was an alcoholic.[25] The music video, which was directed by Sophie Muller, was less successful than the previous Spike Jonze-directed video. It featured the band performing in the garage of their former house, and the bandmates playing hacky sack in the backyard.[28]

Release[edit]

The Blue Album was released on May 10, 1994.[29] It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) just under seven months later on December 1, 1994, and was certified platinum by the RIAA on January 13, 1995. The Blue Album was certified 2x platinum by the RIAA on August 8, 1995. The album was certified 3x platinum by the RIAA on November 13, 1998.[30] The album peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard 200.[31] As a single, "Undone – The Sweater Song" peaked at No. 35 on the UK Top 40, and "Buddy Holly" and "Say It Ain't So" peaked at No. 12 and No. 37 on the UK Top 40 respectively.[32] In the U.S., "Buddy Holly" peaked at No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay chart.[33]

A "deluxe edition" of the album was released on March 23, 2004, including the original album and a second disc, Dusty Gems and Raw Nuggets, containing B-sides and rarities.[34] As of December 2007, the "deluxe edition" had sold 86,000 copies.[35]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic5/5 stars[36]
Blender4/5 stars[37]
Chicago Sun-Times3.5/4 stars[38]
Entertainment WeeklyB (1994)[39]
A+ (2014)[40]
NME7/10[41]
Pitchfork10/10[42]
Q4/5 stars[43]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[44]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[45]
SpinA[46]

The Blue Album was well received by critics.[47] Rolling Stone praised the album in their year-end review, saying "Weezer's Rivers Cuomo is great at sketching vignettes (the Dungeons and Dragons games and Kiss posters that inspire the hapless daydreamer of 'In the Garage'), and with sweet inspiration like the waltz tempo of 'My Name Is Jonas' and the self-deprecating humor of lines like "I look just like Buddy Holly / And you're Mary Tyler Moore", his songs easily ingratiate."[48] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice was less complimentary and awarded the album a "neither" rating.[49] The "Buddy Holly" video won four awards at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards, including prizes for Breakthrough Video and Best Alternative Video.[50] It was ranked number 299 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Legacy[edit]

The Blue Album has become one of the most highly regarded albums of the 1990s, appearing on many "Best-of" lists. In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked the album number 297 on their list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time,[51] and 299 in a 2012 revised list.[52] In 2002, the readers of Rolling Stone ranked the album the 21st greatest of all time,[53] and 299 in a 2012 revised list.[citation needed] Blender named the Blue Album among the "500 CDs You Must Own", calling the album "Absolute geek-rock, out and proud."[54] Non-U.S. publications have acclaimed the album as well: New Zealand's The Movement placed it at number 39 on a list of "The 101 Best Albums of the 90s",[55] and Visions of Germany ranked it number 32 on a list of "The Most Important Albums of the 90s."[56] In November 2011, the Blue Album was ranked number three on Guitar World magazine's top ten list of guitar albums of 1994, with Bad Religion's Stranger than Fiction and The Offspring's Smash in first and second place respectively.[57] The album also peaked at number 25 on Guitar World's "Superunknown: 50 Iconic Albums That Defined 1994" list.[58]

Reviews of the album when its deluxe edition was released have reflected its rise in stature continuing to be positive. In 2004, PopMatters gave the album a very positive review, saying "I'd go so far to declare the 'Blue Album' one of the greatest records of the last 20 years."[59] And Rolling Stone reiterated their original positive review by further describing it as "big, vibrant pop-rock that would inspire thousands of emo kids."[44] Blogcritics Magazine gave the album a score of 10/10 and asserted that "this is one of the most important debut albums of the last ten years."[60]

In naming Weezer the 26th best album of the 1990s, Pitchfork summed up the album's critical recognition:

An album so substantial the band misguidedly attempted to tap into its resonance through cover graphics a mere two releases later. In 1994, 70s rock had come to mean either a bastardized version of Led Zeppelin or a bullshit reconstruction of punk rock. As guitar nerds, Weezer sought influence there but found true inspiration in forgotten bubblegum power-pop like Cheap Trick, Raspberries, 20/20, and The Quick. Most impressively, Rivers Cuomo rescued the thrilling guitar solo from finger-tapping metal and disregarding grunge/punk. A decade later air-guitaring to the album feels far less embarrassing than singing along. With the help of Spike Jonze, Weezer kept joy alive in arena rock, making the critical repositioning of Weezer as some emo touchstone even more absentminded. They called themselves Weezer, knowingly, for chrissakes.[61]

NME claimed that the album "pretty much invented emo's melodic wing".[62] AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave the album a full 5/5 stars, explaining "What makes the band so enjoyable is their charming geekiness; instead of singing about despair, they sing about love, which is kind of refreshing in the gloom-drenched world of '90s guitar-pop."[36]

Accolades[edit]

Since its release, the Blue Album has featured heavily in various "must have" lists compiled by the music media. Some of the more prominent of these lists to feature the Blue Album are shown below; this information is adapted from Acclaimed Music.[63]

Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Blender USA 500 CDs You Must Own Before You Die[54] 2003 *
Music Underwater USA Top 100 Albums 1990–2003[64] 2004 No. 10
Stylus Magazine USA Top 101–200 Albums of All Time[65] 2004 No. 177
Pitchfork Media USA Top 100 Albums of the 1990s[61] 2003 No. 26
Rolling Stone USA The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time[51] 2005 No. 297
Rolling Stone USA The 100 Best Debut Albums of All Time[66] 2013 No. 35

( * ) designates lists which are unordered.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Rivers Cuomo, except where noted.

No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."My Name Is Jonas"Cuomo, Patrick Wilson, Jason Cropper3:23
2."No One Else" 3:14
3."The World Has Turned and Left Me Here"Cuomo, Wilson4:26
4."Buddy Holly" 2:40
5."Undone – The Sweater Song" 4:55
6."Surf Wax America"Cuomo, Wilson3:04
7."Say It Ain't So" 4:18
8."In the Garage" 3:56
9."Holiday" 3:26
10."Only in Dreams" 7:59
Total length:41:26

Deluxe edition bonus disc[edit]

The 2004 deluxe edition included a bonus disc titled Dusty Gems and Raw Nuggets.

No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Mykel & Carli" 2:53
2."Susanne" (remix) 2:47
3."My Evaline" 0:44
4."Jamie" 4:19
5."My Name Is Jonas" (live)Cuomo, Wilson, Cropper3:39
6."Surf Wax America" (live)Cuomo, Wilson4:01
7."Jamie" (acoustic live) 4:03
8."No One Else" (acoustic live) 3:23
9."Undone (The Sweater Song)" (demo) 5:33
10."Paperface" 3:01
11."Only in Dreams" (demo) 5:47
12."Lullaby for Wayne"Cuomo, Wilson3:36
13."I Swear It's True" 2:57
14."Say It Ain't So" (original album mix) 4:16
Total length:50:59

The tracks on the bonus disc originally appeared on the following releases:[24]

  • Tracks 1 and 3 from "Undone – The Sweater Song" single (1994)
  • Track 2 is from the soundtrack to Mallrats; an earlier mix of the same song was included on the "Undone" single
  • Track 4 from DGC Rarities compilation (1994)
  • Tracks 5 and 6 from "Buddy Holly" single (1994)
  • Tracks 7 and 8 from "Say It Ain't So" single (1995)
  • Tracks 9–11 previously unreleased, and part of Kitchen Tape demo (1992)
  • Tracks 12 and 13 previously unreleased, pre-production recordings done with Ric Ocasek just prior to Weezer's recording (1993)
  • Track 14 is the version featured on the original release of the album. The mix was changed for the single and was later added to newer versions of the album. The single mix is the version included on Disc 1 of this Deluxe Edition.

Personnel[edit]

Weezer

Additional musicians

  • Mykel Allan – spoken intermission on "Undone – The Sweater Song"
  • Karl Koch – dialogue, piano outro on "Undone – The Sweater Song"
  • Jason Cropper – guitar, backing vocals on "Jamie"

Production

Charts[edit]

Album[edit]

Chart (1995–96) Peak
position
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[67] 47
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[68] 19
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[69] 40
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[70] 10
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[71] 48
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[72] 22
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[73] 61
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[74] 6
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[75] 35
UK Albums (OCC)[76] 23
US Billboard 200[77] 16

Singles[edit]

Year Song Peak positions
US Modern Rock
[33]
US
Bill-
board
Hot 100

[33]
US
Hot 100
Airplay

[33]
UK
Top 40

[76]
Sweden
[78]
Nether-
lands
[79]
1994 "Undone – The Sweater Song" 6 57 74 35
"Buddy Holly" 2 18 12 14 27
1995 "Say It Ain't So" 7 51 37

References[edit]

Notes

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  2. ^ "Weezer: Kings of the world | Interview | Upset". May 6, 2016. Retrieved July 31, 2016.
  3. ^ Luerssen 2004, p. 67
  4. ^ Luerssen 2004, p. 69
  5. ^ Luerssen 2004, p. 76
  6. ^ Luerssen 2004, p. 82
  7. ^ Luerssen 2004, p. 85
  8. ^ Luerssen 2004, pp. 88–91
  9. ^ Luerssen 2004, p. 87
  10. ^ Luerssen, 2004 & 87
  11. ^ a b Hiatt, Brian; Hiatt, Brian (August 28, 2019). "The Strange Birth and Near Death of Weezer". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 30, 2019.
  12. ^ a b Valania, Jonathan (October 2, 2014). "EXCERPT: The Complete Oral History of Weezer". Magnet. Archived from the original on July 1, 2018. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  13. ^ Luerssen, 2004 & 88–91
  14. ^ Luerssen 2004, p. 98
  15. ^ Luerssen 2004, p. 99
  16. ^ Vozick-Levinson, Simon; Vozick-Levinson, Simon (September 23, 2014). "Rivers Cuomo Is Trying to Be All Right". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  17. ^ Luerssen 2004, p. 61
  18. ^ ""Undone": The Story Behind Weezer's Debut Album Cover". Uproxx. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  19. ^ "Karl's Corner – 01/22/2002". Weezer.com. Archived from the original on March 12, 2016. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  20. ^ Weezer: Blue Album booklet and liner notes
  21. ^ "Adobe Imagination Challenge "Meet the Judges"". Adobe. Archived from the original on September 23, 2011. Retrieved August 11, 2011.
  22. ^ a b Luerssen 2004, p. 109
  23. ^ "Blue Album era releases (1982–1995)". Weezer.com. Archived from the original on August 13, 2010. Retrieved August 31, 2007.
  24. ^ a b Weezer: Blue Album (Deluxe Edition) booklet and liner notes.
  25. ^ a b Luerssen 2004, pp. 110–111
  26. ^ Luerssen 2004, p. 120
  27. ^ Luerssen 2004, p. 121
  28. ^ Luerssen 2004, pp. 146–147
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  42. ^ Mapes, Jillian (February 26, 2017). "Weezer: Weezer (Blue Album)". Pitchfork. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
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Bibliography

  • Luerssen, John D. (2004). Rivers' Edge: The Weezer Story. ECW Press. ISBN 1-55022-619-3.

External links[edit]