Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Stooges, The Weirdness

The Stooges
The Weirdness (Virgin)
Grade: C-

The Stooges, the legendary proto-punk band who once sang about wanting to be your dog, are back after a 30-year absence. Whether the world realizes it or not, The Stooges’ brand of gloriously sleazy rock is desperately needed. In a world where people freak out over Janet Jackson’s breast being exposed, the crowd-baiting antics of Iggy Pop just might be able to start a revolution.

The Stooges were a band that frightened people to the point where only a few people listened to them back in their original heyday. Dee Dee Ramone has a nice quote about The Stooges in the Ramones documentary End of The Century : “Maybe three people liked the Stooges in the whole area [where The Ramones started], and everybody else was, like, violently against them. So if you liked the Stooges, you had to be friends with each other.”

So the question, I guess, is this: Will The Weirdness inspire the same sort of camaraderie amongst the future Dee Dee Ramones of America?

The answer to this question is, unfortunately, “no.”

The Weirdness is somewhat listenable for a band that’s been out of the loop for so long. However, the songs, save for “She Took My Money” and the title track, are way too slight.

You’ll nod your head with the rhythm, and you'll be pleasantly surprised at how good the guitars sound. You’ll roll your eyes at Iggy Pop’s strained lyrics about how his dick is turning into a tree. And then, without having made any impact on you whatsoever, the songs you’ve just heard will be instantly forgotten.

The whole album sounds like it was knocked off in a weekend. While that quality in and of itself can be charming, the insoucience on the The Weirdness just sounds like lazy songwriting.

Another unfortunate aspect about the album is Iggy Pop’s singing. Once Iggy starts, things head south quickly.

When he reaches for the higher notes on songs like “Greedy Awful People”, Pop sounds like a nut-strangled Anthony Keidis. That said, Iggy is much, much better when he’s exploring the lower side of his vocal range, like his crooning on the title track, or his turns on “She Took My Money” and “Passing Cloud”.

The Stooges themselves retain a surprising amount of their original raw power. The guitars sound like they could create their own genre called rock n’ stomp. The rhythm section (with former Minutemen bassist Mike Watt filling in for the deceased Dave Alexander) is incredibly tight. The Stooges also deserve credit for making more of the horn-based noise that inspired previous efforts, like on the closing track “I’m Fried”. But it’s all for naught. There are no memorable songs melodies on The Weirdness , only Iggy Pop’s out-of-tune singing.

On “Trollin’” Pop sings about how “rock critics wouldn’t like this at all.” Oh, I don’t know about that. After a couple of listens, I didn’t think The Weirdness was all that bad. But it could have, and should have, been much better.

(Jonathan Graef)

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Blogger David said...

"You’ll roll your eyes at Iggy Pop’s strained lyrics about how his dick is turning into a tree."


8:20 AM  
Blogger Jon said...

Man oh man, this album is brutal. C minus was way too kind, in retrospect.

8:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Stooges are destined to not be appreciated at the time of releases. I have been listening to these guys since I was young in Michigan and they have always been my favorites. Keep on putting them down, I love seeing them in smnaller venues where I can actually see the band and the concert up front and personal. You guys have no idea how off base you really are. Iggy & tThe Stooges are an experience, a movement, a defiance from the mainstream and this album is no exception. Great Stuff!

10:40 AM  

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