By Alex Rice
1. Thief, You’ve Taken All That Was Me (1992) “Thief of silent dreams/Of golden scenes/Stole away,” Rivers croons in a hushed tone on the very first song Weezer put out into the world. “Thief” was recorded when he still sang like an unsure metalhead and had the shoulder-length hair to back it up, but it’s got all the charm of The Blue Album’s best songs.
2. Mrs. Young (1993) A companion piece to Blue-era b-side “Jamie,” this wistful ode to the same woman (Weezer’s lawyer) was written and sung by original bassist Matt Sharp and appeared in synthed-up form on the 1995 debut LP by his band, The Rentals (as “Please Let That Be You”). Rivers sang this with Sharp when the two reunited for a 2004 acoustic performance.
3. Teenage Victory Song (2001) This energetic rocker nearly made The Green Album and was officially released as a b-side on the “Hash Pipe” single. The chorus makes you want to throw your fists in the air in the name of youthful revolt, but then the post-chorus kicks the song into an even higher gear.
4. Listen Up (2001) Weezer went so far as to perform this soaring demo during a five-song BBC session completely made up of then-unreleased material. Three of the tunes would make it onto Maladroit the following year, but this heartbreaking gem was left on the cutting room floor and never revisited.
5. The Organ Player (2003) It’s a small tragedy that the sessions that produced this breezy number never materialized into an album. The “Album 5 Demos” include several interesting glimpses into the mature, sophisticated direction Rivers was taking the band before “Beverly Hills” came along, but “Organ Player” is the most exquisite.
6. East Coast vs. West Coast (2007) This isn’t a chronicle of the Tupac-Biggie feud, but rather a conversation between two sides of Rivers’s brain - one wants to raise a family in his native Boston and the other in his adopted hometown of Los Angeles. It’s as honest and vulnerable as Rivers has gotten since Pinkerton, whose recording sessions were also split between both coasts.
Alex Rice is the founder of Bandbox. His writing has appeared in the Denver Post, Guitar World and Minneapolis's City Pages.
Photos: Shutterstock / Flickr