Weezer's "Say It Ain't So" limited edition 10-inch vinyl single.
Weezer was formed in Los Angeles in 1992 by Rivers Cuomo (vocals, guitar, keyboards, drums, harmonica), Patrick Wilson (drums), Jason Cropper (guitar, vocals), and Matt Sharp (bass, vocals). Their first gig was opening for Dogstar; soon their self-released “Kitchen Tapes” attracted attention from major label A&R representatives, and they signed with Geffen Records in June 1993. From August to September 1993, the band recorded their debut album at Electric Lady Studios in New York City (Rik Ocasek produced the album). During the recording of the album, Brian Bell replaced Jason Cropper. The album was released in May 1994, and was certified gold by the end of the year, eventually selling over 3 million copies. It spawned three singles: “Undone – The Sweater Song” (U.S. #57), “Buddy Holly” (U.S. #17), and “Say It Ain’t So”/”No One Else” [Live]/ “Jamie” [Live]. “Say It Ain’t So” is today’s featured single.
“Say It Ain’t So” is one of the more ponderous songs from the band’s debut album; it’s a catchy, tuneful song, but it is also a really emotional song, in which the protagonist sings about obviously painful childhood memories: “Flip on the tele’ /Wrestle with Jimmy /Something is bubbling /Behind my back/The bottle is ready to blow”. Here Rivers Cuomo draws an analogy between memories of childhood bubbling to the surface and an exploding soda bottle, with obvious effect. Cuomo claims the song was inspired by an incident that occurred when he was in high school. He saw a beer bottle in the refrigerator, and suddenly realized his parent’s marriage may have failed due to his father’s drinking, and that the marriage between his mother and stepfather might fail for the same reason. The middle bridge is powerful too, in which the singer dictates a letter to his estranged father: “Dear Daddy/I write you in spite of years of silence/You’ve cleaned up, found Jesus/Things are good or so I hear/This bottle of Steven’s awakens ancient feelings/Like father, stepfather, the son is drowning in the flood”. This gives way to a mournful-sounding guitar solo, with the guitar whining much like the singer. The song ends with the same simple guitar melody with which it opened, a nice flourish that perhaps suggests the Ocasek touch. “Say It Ain’t So” was the least successful of the three singles from “Weezer”, lacking either the sly novelty of “Undone” or the mass appeal of “Buddy Holly”, but in spite of that, “Say It Ain’t So” suggested that “Weezer” was capable of tackling more solemn topics in their music.
The U.K. release of the single also contains two live acoustic tracks. The first is a version of “No One Else”, the studio version of which was included on “Weezer”. In it, the singer maligns his current girlfriend (“My girl’s got a big mouth with which she babbles a lot/She laughs at most everythin’ whether it’s funny or not/And if you see her tell her it’s over now”) and yearns for a girl who will “laugh for no one else”. It is a bit strange to hear a melancholy, stripped-down version of the song – the track does not pack the same punch without the full Weezer power pop treatment. Still, it was interesting to hear.
The last track on the single is “Jamie”, an ode to the band’s lawyer, and the better of the two acoustic tracks. The song contains typically humorous lyrics (“You’ve got the Beach Boys, and your firm’s got the Stones/But I know you won’t leave me alone”), and compelling harmony vocals (especially the “hoo-ooo-ooo” during the chorus). This song will likely only be of interest to the hardcore Weezer fan, but is a worthy addition to the band’s catalog.
The single (catalog #: GED 22064) was issued by Geffen in the United States on CD in July 1995. It was issued in the U.K., both on CD and on vinyl (as a 10-inch single). By the time this single was released, the band was already at work on a second album; the resulting album, “Pinkerton” (1996) was seen as a commercial failure compared to the multi-platinum success of “Weezer”; the album eventually went gold, however, and has sold over 800,000 copies. This would be Matt Sharp’s last album with the group; he was replaced by Mikey Walsh. After a lengthy hiatus, the band returned in 2001 with “Weezer” (a.k.a. “The Green Album”). The album debuted at #4 in the U.S. and was soon certified platinum, confirming the fact that the band had retained a loyal fan base during its hiatus. Mikey Walsh, who had checked into a psychiatric hospital was replaced by Scott Shriner before the recording of their next album, “Maladroit” (2002), which received generally favorable reviews. The live EP “The Lion and the Witch” was released later that year. Their next album, “Make Believe” (2005), proved to be their highest-charting album in the U.S., peaking at #2 and selling over 1.2 million copies. The Rich Rubin-produced “Weezer” (a.k.a. “The Red Album”) followed in 2008; the following year, they released “Raditude”, which was also their last album for Geffen (they announced their departure from the label in December 2009). They signed with the independent label Epitaph, which released “Hurley” (2010) and the compilation album “Death to False Metal” (2010).
Tonight on Six of One (9 PM Eastern/8 Central):
Featured artist: The dBs
Tribute to #69
The best of International Pop Overthrow
Tribute to John Du Cann
OTR: Bob and Ray
Hollywood Report: George Sanders
A song parody
Radio Free New Jersey:
Sadly, John Du Cann, formerly of Atomic Rooster (1969-1971), Daemon and Hard Stuff has died of a heart attack. Du Cann also had a solo hit with “Don’t Be a Dummy” in 1979. I will pay tribute to Du Cann during tonight’s “Six of One” netcast. I reviewed Atomic Rooster’s “Devil’s Answer” single here.
Picture sleeve for Dr. Feelgood's "Baby Jane" single.
Dr. Feelgood was formed in 1971 on Canvey Island, Essex, U.K. The original lineup consisted of Lee Brilleaux (lead vocals, harmonica), Wilko Johnson (lead guitar), John B. Sparks (bass guitar), and John Martin (a.k.a. “The Big Figure”, drums). The band signed with United Artists and released their first album, “Down by the Jetty”, in January 1975. Their second album, “Malpractice”, was released in October 1975, and became their first album released in the United States, as well as their first album to chart in the U.K. (peaking at #17). The band’s next album was the live “Stupidity” (1976), an album that topped the charts in the U.K., confirming their mushrooming popularity. This was followed up with “Sneakin’ Suspicion” (1977), the title track of which became their first charting single. This would be their last album with Wilko Johnson, who subsequently left the group and was replaced by Gypie Mayo. Their next album, “Be Seeing You” (1977), contained two charting singles: “She’s a Wind Up” b/w “Hi Rise” and “Baby Jane” b/w “Looking Back”. The latter is today’s featured single.
“Baby Jane”, penned by Bishop, Nesbitt, Reed, Simmons, and Wilson, is fairly typical of the band’s output: an upbeat, catchy tune anchored by a driving riff and Lee Brilleaux’s harmonica. It starts off with a guitar riff, soon joined by a punchy drum beat, as well as an organ and the abovementioned harmonica. Then Brilleaux launches into the lyrics, where he laments a lost love: “Baby Jane, what a fool I’ve been/I let you go, I cast my fate to the four winds/Baby Jane, can you forgive me now/And take away this heart of pain/That I’m living girl”. About one minute and ten seconds into the track, we get a brief but compelling instrumental break, including a great harmonica solo, before a reprise of the first verse. Brilleaux sings the song’s title repeatedly as the track fades out slowly. Nick Lowe produced this track (and the whole album), and delivers a nice, clean, radio-friendly recording. This single, unlike its predecessor, “She’s a Wind Up”, did not chart in the U.K. On September 20, 1977, Dr. Feelgood recorded a version of the song for a Peel Session, along with several other tracks.
Picture sleeve for the 12-inch release of "Baby Jane".
The B-side of the single, “Looking Back”, clocks in at a mere 1 minute and 59 seconds and is also based around a solid riff; Brilleaux’s harmonica-playing is less prominent here. In spite of its brevity, it contains a raucous 33 second-long guitar solo, which is entertaining, but what really holds the song together is the chorus of “I was looking back to see/If she was looking back to see/If I was looking back at her”. Overall this was a fun track and a worthy addition to the Dr. Feelgood catalog.
The single (catalog #: UP 36332) was released by United Artists. The 7-inch single release had a picture sleeve, and the 12-inch version had a completely different picture sleeve (also shown). The 12-inch release also had an additional track: a live version of the B.B. King-penned “You Upset Me Baby”, recorded at the Paddocks, Canvey Island, by Vic Maile with the Maison Rouge Mobile, on 10 June 1977. With Gypie Mayo as lead guitarist, the band never achieved the peak of popularity they did with Wilko Johnson; nevertheless, the band’s next album, “Private Practice”, was a moderate success, and contained their U.K. Top Ten single “Milk and Alcohol”. Gypie Mayo left the band in 1981, and was replaced by Johnny Guitar. The band’s popularity declined in the 1980s, but they continued to release albums throughout the decade, on a succession of different record labels. When the band found themselves without a record deal in the mid-1980s, Stiff Records signed them (returning a favor, as Lee Brilleaux had loaned the band’s ex-manager Andrew Jakeman 400 pounds to help launch the label). Brilleaux died of cancer in 1994, but the band reunited in 1995, the lineup then consisting of Steve Walwyn (lead guitar), P.H. Mitchell (bass guitar), Kevin Morris (drums) – all whom played together in the band from 1983 to 1989 – plus new vocalist Pete Gage. The band recommenced touring in 1996. Pete Gage was replaced by Robert Kane in 1999.
Logo for Touch and Go Records
This week on Six of One (show #235): A retrospective on Touch and Go Records, the Chicago-based hardcore label that has been a force in the alternative rock world since 1981; a tribute to #66; a Kinks song parody; old time radio with an episode of Rod Serling’s “The Zero Hour”; the Hollywood Report with Harvey Milk (though I really don’t know what he has to do with Hollywood, or whether he even set foot in Los Angeles).
The show can be heard at 9 PM Eastern/ 8 PM Central on Thursdays.
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