It’s pretty crazy to look at all the albums that came out in 1994 and see how many of those have gone on to become true classics. 94 was a golden year for music and it will be regarded as such for generations to come. There’s one album that came out during this time that helped to change the landscape of things. That album is Weezer’s debut also known as The Blue Album. The 10 songs that make up this legendary album are substantial and highly influential. Along with the pop charm and sensibilities, the melodic melancholy that is the backdrop for this album, helped to spawn a new sub-genre.
The Blue Album has quite an interesting history in regards to the writing and recording of it. The album was produced by Ric Ocasek (R.I.P) of The Cars and recorded at Electric Lady Studios in New York. In case you didn’t know, Electric Lady Studios was Jimi Hendrix’s studio. Originally the band wanted to self produce the album but, the label insisted on a producer and they chose Ric. Original guitarist Jason Cropper was let go during the recording of the album and replaced by Brian Bell. Cropper had already performed all his parts on the album but, after he was let go, Rivers Cuomo redid all of his parts and according to Ric Ocasek, he did all those parts in one take. Cropper did receive writing credit though on the lead track “My Name Is Jonas.” Something else that I’ve always found funny was that for the album cover photo, original bassist Matt Sharp wasn’t happy with the way his head looked so photoshop was used to replace his head with another one from a different shot.
There are a hodgepodge of different influences and inspirations that can be found on the album, making it something quite spectacular. There’s pop elements to go along with garage rock, bits of post punk, punk rock, and even a tinge of metal at times. Right out of the gate “My Name Is Jonas,” sets the tone for how the dynamics of the album are. It’s also one of the coolest first tracks to an album. “No One Else” has this really fun playful bounce to it and an almost Beach Boys pop vibe to it. “The World Has Turned and Left Me Here” is one of those songs that the more you listen to, the more you relate. While it has a pop formula, it’s one of the more darker songs on the album. “Buddy Holly” was actually the second single off the album but, it was this song and fantastic video (directed by Spike Jonze) that really put Weezer on the map. Even Rivers Cuomo was hesitant about putting the song on the album as he felt it didn’t represent the sound he wanted. Ric Ocasek persuaded Rivers to put it on the album. “Undone- The Sweater Song” was the first single. Rivers has even said that this is an inadvertant rip-off of Metallica’s “Welcome Home (Sanitarium).” This song is super catchy but, it’s also quite poignant and deep. It’s also one of my favorite songs the band has ever written. Plus the guitar solo on the song is perfect. “Surf Wax America” is another super catchy song with a punk rock sensibility a la the Ramones. “Say It Ain’t So” is another of my all time favorite Weezer songs. It was the third and final single released. The heavy guitars on this song are exquisite and this tone has become often duplicated. The song itself is one hell of a track. It’s dark and hits all those right feels. This is also one of the bands most covered songs (Deftones, Finch and Dashboard Confessional and more have covered this song). “In The Garage” is quite an introspective song set against a poppy melody with cruchy guitars. This is one of those songs that many a suburban kid can relate to and still do. “Holiday” has some of the best guitar and bass tones on the album. It’s also a heartfelt song that has this layer of optimism to it. There is also this really fun barbershop quartet section in the middle of the song. Interestingly, while preparing for the studio sessions, Weezer focused on their vocal interplay by practicing barbershop quartest style songs to feel more comfortable collaborating vocally. Closing out the album is my absolute favorite Weezer song, “Only In Dreams.” The song’s lyrics tell the story of a young man who wants to be romantically involved with the girl of his dreams. But because he cannot do so in reality due to how nervous he is, he can only fantasize about being with her in his dreams. Though in an 2010 interview Rivers said of the song “I think most of our audience always thought it was a song about a girl when I’m really singing about my artistic process.” No matter what the song is about, one thing is for certain, this song is epic. The dynamics on this song are astounding. The precision of quiet to loud along with guitar, bass, and drum tones should be studied. The gradual increase in heaviness that leads to the guitar solo give me chills to this day. This song is sincere and absolutely immersive and as an album closer it’s perfect.
The Blue Album is one of those that you can listen to from start to finish without ever tiring of it or wanting to skip a song, even if you’ve heard “Buddy Holly” 500 times. The pop elements and brightness hook you in as they should but, it’s really the meticulously crafted songs and performances that make this album stand out. These songs don’t just fit in the era they were released making this album timeless. The Blue Album is a pre-cursor to the emo movement that bands like Sunny Day Real Estate and Jawbreaker helped to create. This album is truly one of the best albums of the 90’s and 1994. Take a few moments out of your day and (re)discover how great this album is.
Weezer- The Blue Album: