Rivers Cuomo, "Alone II: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo" (Geffen) [3 STARS]

Written By Sun-Times Wire Posted: 11/26/2008, 09:44am

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Six months after releasing the sadly underrated “Red Album,” prolific Weezer singer, songwriter and auteur Rivers Cuomo is giving us a second installment of his considerable archive of outtakes and demos, along with some heartfelt, soul-sharing liner notes that are as entertaining as the music.

A dedicated pop craftsman and ardent student of rock history, Cuomo is the rare artist whose discards can be more interesting than other band’s singles, and the treasures here include a cover of Brian Wilson’s “Don’t Worry Baby” that seems to have been done partly as an academic exercise and partly for the sheer fun of it; “Can’t Stop Partying,” a tune co-written with Atlanta R&B producer Jermaine Dupri, of all the unlikely collaborators, and the coulda-been-Weezer-hits “The Prettiest Girl in the Whole Wide World” and “Walt Disney.”

You have to wonder if Cuomo bothered to play songs such as these for his bandmates, and if so, why they passed on them–especially in light of the fact that one of the biggest knocks on “The Red Album” is that the group’s leader wasted valuable space by allowing each of his fellow musicians to record a song of their own. In any event, fans have them now, even if the fuzzy recording quality and a handful of tracks that sound more like sketches than songs keep this disc from ranking with Weezer at its best.

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