By Rodin Batcheller
On January 24, Weezer dropped an unexpected new album: the Teal album. With just over one month until the release of the Black album, it seems like Weezer wanted to surprise their fanbase with an album full of the band's favorite songs. If you have been following Weezer lately, you would know that they have released covers of 'Africa' and 'Rosanna,' both originally by Toto. This album decided to take it a step further, and it actually turned out really well. It turns out that Weezer is a pretty good cover band.
Weezer goes New Wave
When taking my first look at the new album cover, I thought, Wow, I guess Weezer's really out of touch with the fashion of today. But when I took a look at the list of songs on the album, I completely understood. The album cover features Rivers Cuomo and the gang dressed in shiny New Wave attire that most definitely fits the album style and the band's sense of humor. The first track on the album is 'Africa,' which I'm sure is due to the fact that it was very popular when Weezer dropped the single. Toto released 'Africa' in 1982 and Weezer decided to follow that up with three more tracks from the 80s. These include 'Everybody Wants To Rule The World' by Tears For Fears, "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of These)' by the Eurythmics and 'Take on Me' by a-ha.
I was pleasantly surprised that these tracks were on the album, but before I listened to them I couldn't help but think, Please don't ruin these songs. They didn't. The band executed the songs perfectly, and it sounds like Cuomo really took time listening to the original songs and working with the rest of the band so that the songs fit his voice. I wasn't expecting so many New Wave songs from the 80s; I was expecting more alternative and Weezer-sounding songs. However, considering that's the decade the band grew up in, it makes sense.
Weezer goes Classic (Rock, that is)
The next three songs on the album, tracks four through six, would all be grouped under the Classic Rock section in most listeners' minds. They are 'Happy Together' by the Turtles, 'Paranoid' by Black Sabbath and 'Mr. Blue Sky' by Electric Light Orchestra. Now, these were the songs that I would have anticipated being on a Weezer cover album; they are definitely more Weezer-like in sound and style. I was absolutely delighted that they covered these songs, given that I have been life-long fan of Classic Rock, but I wasn't surprised.
This past summer, a couple of my friends and I went to see Weezer and the Pixies at a concert at the Forum in Inglewood, California. It was one of the best concerts I have ever been to. At one point, the band left the stage as Rivers Cuomo got on a scooter and glided through the audience like a prince of Rock and Roll among his people. He emerged atop a lifted rowboat with a Weezer flag mounted at the stern. Waiting for him was an acoustic guitar, and he went into an acoustic version of 'Island In The Sun.' It was beautiful. After getting the crowd into a frenzy, without warning, Cuomo launched into an acoustic version of 'Happy Together.' It was awesome.
The rest of the concert was pretty standard, with the exception of "Weird Al" Yankovic coming out to play the keyboard solo of 'Africa' on his accordion. I thought it couldn't get any better. Just as it seemed like Weezer was wrapping it up and playing their final song of the night, they quickly jumped into a condensed version of 'Paranoid'. Then poof, the concert was over. What surprised me more was from their cover of 'Mr. Blue Sky'. I'm sure this song is many people's favorite, and I'm glad they covered it as it's one of mine as well. In fact, I'm glad they covered all three of these songs.
Weezer too perfect?
All the songs covered on this album are excellent songs and they are covered excellently by an excellent band to make an excellent album and I highly recommend taking a listen because it's excellent. However, that may be the problem with the album, how excellent it is. I'll admit that it was hard to find a fault with this album. That may be due to the fact that I am a huge Weezer fan. But the one fault I could find is that some songs are covered too well. What does that mean?
Take 'Everybody Wants To Rule The World.' The cover is great and Weezer made it sound like the original, but that's the problem; there's not enough Weezer in the song. I was expecting a little bit more humor, in the form of harmonies or maybe some heavy guitar. I never heard it. That's my problem with some of the tracks on the album; the covers sound too close to the original song and not enough like Weezer.
I apologize for not addressing the final three songs on the album: 'No Scrubs' by TLC, 'Billie Jean' by Michael Jackson and 'Stand by Me' by Ben E. King, which is the one song on the album that sounds more like Weezer. Some songs covered on the Teal album were pleasant surprises while others were not as surprising, but still pleasant. So, thank you for this gem of an album Weezer, even though I eat up anything you put out.