Rivers Cuomo -- Alone: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo (Geffen) After Nirvana, Weezer might be the biggest disappointment of the alt-rock '90s. Whereas Kurt Cobain fell to the pressures of early success, leaving listeners to wonder what might have been, Weezer stuck around, earning itself a second generation of fans. In the past decade, the band has followed its stunningly original self-titled debut and cult-classic sophomore effort, Pinkerton, with a string of progressively slicker, spottier and less meaningful pop-punk albums. It's no surprise, then, that the best songs on Alone, a collection of reclusive Weezer mastermind Rivers Cuomo's personal demos, were recorded before 1996. The thudding power-pop bop of "Blast Off" is among the highlights, bringing together space-adventure lyrics, arena-rock power chords, and a guitar solo that sounds like Peter Frampton testing his talk box underwater.
James Luther Dickinson --Killers From Space (Memphis International) Jim Dickinson: myth or legend? He's both and neither, too, in the literal sense that he's very much real: He produced landmark records by Big Star, the Replacements, Ry Cooder and Mudhoney, and served as a session player for the likes of Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin and the Rolling Stones. Although Dickinson's legend is rooted in the work he's done for others, he gets the urge every so often to do something for himself. That latest something is something indeed. Killers From Space compiles 11 cover tunes from Dickinson's "too good to record" file and throws in a rare original. It's a bluesy honky-tonk soul record with a healthy dose of weird. Dickinson rumbles through Doug Sahm's hippie eulogy "Texas Me," sighs thickly over a mournful piano soul vamp on "Lonely Nights" and sings on the menacing "Dirty On Yo' Mama" as if he might be gargling bourbon between verses.