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The Bomb

Rivers Cuomo’s home demo cover of “The Bomb” ain’t much to revisit, but it sure is interesting for a single listen. First of all, this is a pre-Blue era cover of an Ice Cube song, of all things — the closing track from his 1990 West Coast rap magnum opus AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted.

That alone tells us a lot: we know Cuomo’s influences of the time heavily leaned in the direction of the Beatles, the Beach Boys, his ’80s metal heroes, a bit of classical and the then-contemporary grunge explosion (which, as this was recorded Fall 1992, was in full effect). In the Alone liner notes Cuomo recalls how he and his original bassist Matt Sharp tried to avoid traces of any “funky” influence in Weezer, being of the opinion that white bands should avoid trying to sound like black musicians at all costs — but the fact that he was interested enough in early gangsta rap to record a cover of this song is significant, not only suggesting that in those days Cuomo had a wider palette than was readily apparent, but also foreshadowing the future integration of hip-hop influences in Weezer’s music. (If this blog had footnote capabilities I would use one here to mention two faults in Sharp and Cuomo’s logic: the first being the fact that rock’n’roll itself, although a predominantly white genre for the past few decades at that point, was originally one of black invention; and the second being that very palpable traces of soul and even the usptroked guitars of reggae dominate the verse of “Say It Ain’t So,” one of the best songs Cuomo has ever written. Oh, footnotes; if only…)

Ahem. As for the cover itself, it takes some pretty interesting liberties with the source material. Cuomo chops down the 3:25 runtime of the original to a paltry 1:18, and distills the Bomb Squad production team’s heavily layered collage of samples into a spare mess of sloppy drumming, a rumbling one-note bassline, some squiggly synths and a severely cracked-out funk guitar solo. And of course, there’s Cuomo’s rap delivery, which boldly attempts to flow at a pace considerably faster than that of Ice Cube himself. The end result sounds a bit like an early Beastie Boys demo, with some punk rock DIY aesthetic and Cobainesque screams tossed in for the hell of it. A kind of audio purgatory, if you pause to evaluate it, but a compelling curiosity nevertheless.

In short, “The Bomb” is the kind of personal Cuomo ephemera that represents the lighter side of the Alone series — and while it’s not something likely to garner repeat rotations, it’s definitely an artifact worth preserving.

6 Comments

  1. noobcakesmcgee wrote:

    The crazy-ass guitar solo makes me smile every time. Certainly a strange artifact of Cuomo’s musical past, but one that I seek out occasionally for the hell of it.

    Friday, January 15, 2010 at 7:01 pm | Permalink
  2. clonus wrote:

    I don’t listen to this one too much, but I’m glad we got to hear it-the two Alone albums feel like Rivers letting us go through his tapes, hearing both the great songs, as well as the weirder stuff (Harvard Blues, This is the Way, etc).
    I remember an interview with Rivers where he said he worked in a record store (or something similar) so he heard a ton of top-40 stuff played over the sound system during the pre-Blue era. He certainly has a diverse group of influences, that’s for sure.

    Friday, January 15, 2010 at 7:14 pm | Permalink
  3. OOS wrote:

    I always enjoyed this one. The solo is fantastic, I like the scattershot nature of the whole deal. It’s rough, raw, and spontaneous in a way that most Rivers releases (Even on the Alone albums) are not.

    Saturday, January 16, 2010 at 10:45 am | Permalink
  4. Melack wrote:

    Interesting cover. He really makes it his own for sure. That he has always been a fan of rap and hip-hop is kind of apparent I think. And he sure loves his the Bomb Squad as also apparent in his Public Enemy reference in El Scorcho.

    Nice call on the Beastie Boys connection. It really does sound like some of their attempts of mixing hardcore punk and hip-hop.

    Saturday, January 16, 2010 at 10:47 am | Permalink
  5. Soyrev wrote:

    Oh, and there’s something really awesome about hearing a young Cuomo scream “STILL DROPPIN’ MORE SHIT THAN A PIGEON!”

    Sunday, January 17, 2010 at 11:33 pm | Permalink
  6. waitingandwaiting wrote:

    that guitar solo’s awesome. although i would never seek to listen to this, it is a pleasant surprise when it pops up on shuffle.

    Monday, January 18, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

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