Wednesday, November 14, 2007

This is beginning to hurt . . .

James Montgomery's latest Bigger Than the Sound piece hits on a topic that's been mulling around for years: how does Weezer remain popular despite being a pale version of themselves when they were with bassist Matt Sharp? For me, it's been a slow decline of receding interest.

To put things in context, when Weezer's Blue Album came out, they were a rare, distinct band. Instead of hiding their geeky side, they embraced it in a very sincere way. Nobody else was doing that in a popular rock band and, with those ten snappy tunes, Weezer were kings for a couple of years. Yet when Pinkerton dropped, it seemed like the band was phoning it in and being really bitter about life. I still remember Tim telling me the day it came out that the record "suuuuuuccccccckks" and based on my viewings of the "El Scorcho" and "Good Life" videos, I wasn't that compelled to check Pinkerton out. I think a lot of people did the same since the record disappeared after selling 300,000 or so copies.

Now, I still remember a few years later picking up Pinkerton at Matt and Tim's place and Matt praising the album. I couldn't help noticing in Matt's bedroom the large black-and-white Weezer banner saying, "If it's too loud, turn it down." Clearly, this band was still in the hearts of their longtime fans even though there was no word of another album.

The sealing of my fandom came with burning of a CD-R with all of their b-sides up to that point. I'm talking "Susanne," "Jaime" and even those live-from-a-high-school-cafeteria renditions of "The Good Life" and "Pink Triangle." I thought I had found pure gold and I wondered if they were ever getting back together. Well, my answer came less than a year later.

When the band announced a new tour, a new bassist, and a new album, people went nuts. Shows immediately sold out and plenty of new songs were played night after night. Bootlegs floated around Napster and I heard a few of them. "Preacher's Son" was one of the exceptional new ones and I hoped it would appear on the third album. It didn't.

When The Green Album arrived, I thought it was really good. Yet time hasn't been very kind to it. I've found myself agreeing with Matt's initial assessment of it: good pop rock album, but a weak Weezer record. Despite re-teaming with Blue Album producer Ric Ocasek and dozens (maybe hundreds) of songs to choose from, The Green Album came out rather half-baked and safe.

Furthering the decline was how the band performed live. Seeing a few performances on MTV, they just weren't that exciting to watch. Patrick did some shenanigans behind his drumkit, Mikey had some pep in his step, and Brian smiled here and there, but Rivers stood there like a deer-in-headlights.

With the follow-ups being Maladroit and Make Believe -- albums that have some great tracks -- the Matt Sharp years are still cherished most. For me, I enjoyed making the mix CD of a dozen post-Matt Sharp stuff, but if I want the best of the best, I go with The Blue Album and Pinkerton, hands down. And I'm not expecting the band's recently completed six album to change my mind.

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