Monday, August 13, 2012

Rivers Cuomo - Alone

Alone is the first in a series of discs which mark the official releases of many of Rivers Cuomo's fabled demos. The thing about Rivers is that he is, in fact, prolific. That being the case, I still think tales of his prolificacy have been greatly overstated. The inside covers of the Alone discs show the collections of tapes and binders full of fully and half-baked song ideas. There's no doubt that Rivers has written a buttload (Fun fact: 1 buttload is equal to 1.7 metric tons) of songs, but let's not be like those jerks in the Frank Lloyd Wright society. Not everything the man has written is pure gold. Most everything that has made it onto the studio albums is excellent, almost all the b-sides are great, and many of the demos are high quality. Some of them are not.

Here's the point I want to press: with the Alone series, Rivers has decided to drop the curtain shrouding the mysterious and much ballyhooed Songs From the Black Hole. Songs From the Black Hole is a rock opera that Rivers was writing around the same time he wrote the songs for Pinkerton. If you go on the Weezer web boards, the way that people talk about these songs would make you think that Rivers had written the next Miss Saigon and chose not to release it. I've been into the trading and wholesale downloading of Weezer demos and rarities for as long as I can remember. I have heard most of the songs which were reported as completed in demo form for Songs From the Black Hole. There is nothing mind-blowing there. A couple of the songs are pretty good (especially "Blast Off!" which feels like it should be longer) but some of them are cheesy and bad. There's a reason Rivers went with Pinkerton instead. The more of these songs hit the light of day, the clearer it becomes that they weren't ready for the big time. Give Rivers a little credit for not loving the smell of his own farts as much as his fans do.

With that rant out of the way, Alone brings some interesting demos to the table. As an avid Weezer collector, I had heard many of these songs before I ever bought the album. A couple of the fabled Songs From the Black Hole are featured here, and they are generally good but not great. I absolutely love "I Was Made For You." It's definitely good enough to be studio album material. I've always loved "Longtime Sunshine" and "Lover in the Snow," so it's nice to see them here. There aren't too many surprises for hardcore Weezer collectors, but many of the songs sound like they've been cleaned up for this release, so it's worth owning if you're the kind of guy who wants all the Weezer he can get.

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