Weezer (The Blue Album)
Video Capture Device:
Treasures from the Vault 1991–2002
First Appeared in The Music Box, June 2004, Volume 11, #6
Written by T.J. Simon
When Weezer emerged from California obscurity to release its self-titled debut (forever known as the Blue Album) in 1994, the foursome made a unique impact on the musical landscape. The untimely dissolution of Nirvana marked the beginning of the end of the dour and disaffected grunge era. Then along came Weezer, who provided a true alternative: nerdy, nice kids who rocked hard without forsaking hooks and harmonies. The crunching, grungy guitars remained, yet the lyrical hopelessness and bad attitudes went right out the window.
Groundbreaking for its time, the Ric Ocasek-produced Blue Album sold more than three million copies — exceeding the expectations of both the record company and the band. Remarkably, the ten-song set sounds as fresh and new today as it did a decade ago — thanks to a crisp, digital remastering for the newly released Deluxe Edition. The album begins with My Name Is Jonas, a terrific rock song with heavy guitars, acoustic interludes, harmonies, and a harmonica bridge, and it also features hits Undone — The Sweater Song, Buddy Holly, and Say It Ain’t So, the band’s best song.
The Deluxe Edition also boasts a bonus disc billed as "Dusty Gems and Raw Nuggets." This collection of 14 b-sides, live tracks, acoustic versions, and previously-unreleased cuts is clearly intended for the psycho fan who just can’t get enough of Weezer. For the more casual listener, the best tracks on the bonus disc are the few acoustic versions of hits from the Blue Album, all of which showcase the songwriting abilities and voice of bandleader Rivers Cuomo. The generous packaging also contains lyric sheets, extensive linear notes, and an interesting essay by the talent scout for Geffen Records who discovered the band in the early ’90s.
Weezer owes a lot of its success to the groundbreaking and clever music videos that helped propel many of its songs to mega-hit status. Coinciding with the re-release of the Blue Album is a three-hour Weezer DVD entitled Video Capture Device: Treasures from the Vault 1991–2002. The package contains all of the band’s music videos, several live performances, and behind-the-scenes footage spanning a decade in the life of the band.
The music videos are easily the highlight of this DVD compilation. The Spike Jonze-directed Buddy Holly seamlessly morphs a Weezer performance with footage from the TV show Happy Days, arguably making it the best music video in the history of the medium. Jonze also directed the cinematically beautiful video for Undone — The Sweater Song. The 2002 video for Keep Fishin’ finds the band performing on The Muppet Show alongside all the well-loved characters from 20 years ago, and it also features two separate, but entertaining, versions of videos for Island in the Sun — the hit from Weezer’s self-titled 2001 outing that is commonly called the Green Album.
While the music videos make the DVD a worthwhile investment, the behind-the-scenes material and live tracks are all rather dull and uninteresting. Most of the footage was filmed by hand in a shaky, amateurish fashion that makes Zapruder’s JFK assassination clip seem downright artful. The studio sessions provide little insight into the creative process, and the live tracks are too herky-jerky to watch without risking motion sickness. The one exception is the band’s 1995 appearance on Late Show with David Letterman, which was a truly special moment that captures a great band at the top of its game performing Say It Ain’t So.
Weezer [Original Album] —
Weezer [Deluxe Edition] —
Video Capture Device: Treasures from the Vault 1991–2002 —
Of Further Interest...
Weezer (The Blue Album) [Deluxe Edition] is
available from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
Video Capture Device is available on
DVD from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box