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It’s not that unusual for an artist to work a favourite cover song into an album of otherwise original material.
Sometimes it turns out to be the best thing on the record.
But doing an album comprised entirely of covers when you’re known primarily for doing your own material is a lot less common and carries with it a certain amount of risk.
A case in point is Train’s 2016 tribute to Led Zeppelin Two. They recorded versions of virtually every song on the record that were faithful to the originals, but it rubbed a number of fans the wrong way in both camps.
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it.
Especially if you’ve already road-tested the covers in your live shows and your fans approved.
And that’s exactly what Weezer did in the year leading up to the release of what they’re calling “The Teal Album”. Those who attended last summer’s sold-out arena saw the band play a number of covers from “Happy Together” by The Turtles and a-ha’s “Take On Me” to Toto’s “Africa”, which they released as a single last summer and which became a big hit for them.
The overwhelmingly positive response to the covers they did inspired the band to forge ahead with an entire album.
“The Teal Album” - the cover of which sees them dressed like extras on Miami Vice - features 10 tracks, including all three already referenced.
They compete for your attention with a diverse mix that includes two of my favourite tracks from the 1980s, Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World" and the Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams”.
Also part of the mix are little gems like The Electric Light Orchestra’s “Mr. Blue Sky”, TLC’s “No Scrubs” and Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”.
And lest you think they’d gone soft, they also cover Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid”.
Generally speaking, they did a decent job on most of the material here, but there are four tracks I keep going back to over and over: “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”; "Take On Me”; “Mr. Blue Sky” and “No Scrubs”, although their version doesn’t have the same juice as TLC’s version.
The idea of a whole album of covers may not initially sound that appealing, but think of it as a really good mixed tape, a party record, a mix for long drives with material you can occasionally ing along to when there’s nobody else around.
If you wished Weezer had kept the cover songs for the tour bus and put out an album of new original material, they’ve got you covered.
In March, the band will release “The Black Album”, which features solely new material.
Dave Sitek (TV On the Radio) produced that album, which features songs that Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo wrote entirely on piano.
That album’s current single, “Can’t Knock The Hustle”, recently became the band’s 16th top ten to single at Alternative Radio.
(Rating: 3 out of 5 stars)
- Weezer will hit the road in early March for a major tour, which will see the group share top billing with Pixies.
- A show at Madison Square Gardens will feature a special appearance by TV on the Radio.
- They will then hit Coachella’s Main Stage before heading to Europe for a number of dates and festivals.
Doug Gallant is a freelance writer and well-known connoisseur of a wide variety of music. His On Track column will appear in The Guardian every second Saturday. To comment on what he has to say or to offer suggestions for future reviews, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.