Pinkerton [Deluxe Edition]
I have always been a Weezer fan, but in the most casual sense. I loved “Buddy Holly” when it first came out, “El Scorcho” when the video was released and their comeback track “Hash Pipe.” I never owned any of their albums, however. I always wanted to have The Blue Album, but I never got around to buying it. The Green Album was always that one record that I meant to get, but never did. The one in between, I dismissed initially because most critics and fans didn’t like it because it was nothing like The Blue Album. Lead singer Rivers Cuomo “forgot” what made him famous; his quirky lyrics and happy-poppy songs like “The Sweater Song.” So listening to the Deluxe Edition of Pinkerton for the first time is like discovering that gem that nobody else knows about, except most critics and fans now consider this to be the band’s best work. They’re right.
This two-disc set consists of 35 tracks, including the original album and boatloads of live tracks, but it is still the original album that pulls you in and takes you into two years of Rivers Cuomo’s hell. The first disc begins with the album and “Tired of Sex” which is a grungy guitar-driven anthem that underscores the aching lyrics that chronicle Cuomo’s search for love instead of sex. This darker side permeates the album and the extras. “Getchoo,” “Why Bother?” and (one of my all-time favorites) “El Scorcho” continue the band’s rockin’ tendencies while masking lyrics like “It’s gonna kill when you desert me / This happened to me twice before / It won’t happen to me anymore.” The original album ends with the acoustically beautiful “Butterfly,” which exposes Cuomo’s lyrics (and soul) more than any of the other tracks, especially when he quietly sings “I’m sorry for what I did.”
While the album itself stands as quite possibly the pinnacle of the band’s storied career, the extras on the Deluxe Edition don’t, with a couple of exceptions. “I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams” is a fantastic heart-on-sleeve track with Rachel Haden taking the lead vocals and adding another dimension to a song that already has several. “Long Time Sunshine” is a song that will take you completely by surprise. It starts off as one of the better unreleased tracks that would have fit on the original album, until the bridge of the song where layer after layer of vocals are added until there are so many voices, you have no idea where they start or end, but the cacophony is utterly amazing and makes this one of the best songs of the entire album, both the original and the extras.
The downside to all the extras is the repetition. Is it really necessary to have a total of five versions of “Pink Triangle” (including three live versions), five of “The Good Life” (three live) and four takes of “El Scorcho” (three live)? Probably not. After the third different live version of “Pink Triangle,” I began to wonder if the people who put this together were looking to fill space.
The liner notes in this edition do add a lot to the deluxe edition as photographer Karl Koch goes through how, in between The Blue Album and Pinkerton, Cuomo went to Harvard, scrapped an entire album (tentatively titled The Black Hole), had his leg lengthened (correcting a congenital problem and causing him to walk with a cane for almost two years) and how they jumped from studio to studio tweaking, adding and subtracting bits and pieces to some of the ten masterpieces to make the record and some that didn’t (like the stellar “I Swear Its True” and “Getting Up and Leaving”).
Pinkerton has entered my top 20 albums of all-time and, despite the repetition with the extras, it would not have reached that mark if it wasn’t for the extras on this Deluxe Edition. I love this album and, maybe I’m just a completist, but the extra tracks and detailed liner notes put the original ten tracks in perspective. Enough for me to say that this expansion is an absolute must have for any music fan.