“Slob” has had a pretty interesting life, for a Weezer song. The tune was debuted during the Summer Songs 2000 tour, which found it sticking out in the memory of fans as a rare slab of raw emotion in a batch of Rivers Cuomo’s least personal songs to date. Truth be told, the semi-officially released live cut of the song definitely has something to it: the dissonant guitar lick quickly sets the atmosphere, which is quickly deepened by Cuomo’s impassioned vocals and despondent lyrics. The wayward guitar leads that set up the chorus are a nice touch, as are those Mikey Welsh bass lurches that accompany the driving second verse. The solo nicely encapsulates the lost feeling Cuomo’s trying to convey, and the way his guitar continues to build through the final chorus really brings the point home.
Lyrically, the song is simple but effective: “Leave me alone / I won’t pick up the phone / And I won’t listen to messages / Sent by someone who calls up and says / ‘I don’t like how you’re living your life / Get yourself a wife / Get yourself a job / You’re living a dream / Don’t you be a slob.'” The second verse allusion to Cuomo rebelliously “drinking some of grandaddy’s beer” is the one truly naff lyric in the set, as it doesn’t sound legitimate coming from a man approaching his thirties — but for the most part, this is the most direct and heartfelt expression of the SS2K‘s primary lyrical theme, Cuomo’s unraveling health and mental state post-Pinkerton flop. It’s hardly my personal favorite from the set, but it’s definitely a highlight.
Like all but one of the SS2K, “Slob” got snubbed when it came time to select the Green Album contenders. But the song saw a revival when Cuomo began listening to the fans during the Maladroit writing and recording sessions, many of whom were adamant about the song getting a second treatment. Surprisingly, Cuomo listened and the song wound up being re-recorded and made the cut for the final record — perhaps he thought it fit in with the more pop metal sound he was ostensibly going for with much of that record.
For whatever reason, the Mala “Slob” doesn’t carry quite the same weight the earlier live version does. Cuomo’s vocal production — glazed in a weird, misplaced reverb — certainly doesn’t help. Otherwise, the two versions are largly similar, and each band member does a commendable job of getting the point across…Perhaps the studio rendition simply highlights the song’s limited potential, whereas the live setting implied that unpursued development may have lead to something greater. Still, musically speaking, the two versions are roughly interchangable, with a subtle but very discernible edge going to the SS2K. A possible compromise might be the January 10th early studio version of the song that lacks the regrettable vocal mixing, but sounds just about as unfinished as the 2000 live take (and also features some chorus counterpoint from Scott Shriner that I don’t particularly fancy). Whatever — personal preference.
I have a couple live bootleg versions from some Japan dates in May ’02, which offer their own subtle variations (more emphatic drumming from Pat Wilson, I’d say) and are perfectly serviceable. I’m not sure which era it comes from — ’00 or ’02 — but there’s a live version that was tagged onto the 2nd iteration of the UK Retail single of Mala single “Keep Fishin’,” which isn’t quite special enough to merit an official release…though come to think of it, I like the diction of the solo probably the best of the lot, Wilson’s drumming is spot on, the backup vocals are as good as any other take, and I quite like the little noodling that’s added on as an adhoc intro. So seeing as I’m now deciding this is my favorite version of the song, perhaps it actually was worth releasing. Thinking aloud, here.
At this point in time, I don’t quite think there’s enough here to merit an addition to the Grand Playlist — it just misses the mark. Though I’m curious as to what all you fine readers have to say about this one — especially which version you find best.