The Stooges – The Weirdness

The Weirdness (2007)

C

1. Trollin’ 2. You Can’t Have Friends 3. ATM 4. My Idea Of Fun 5. The Weirdness 6. Free & Freaky 7. Greedy Awful People 8. She Took My Money 9. The End Of Christianity 10. Mexican Guy 11. Passing Cloud 12. I’m Fried

 

I hate garage bands. Not garage rock, of course, but literal garage bands who play in their parents’ garage. I mean, maybe it’s unfair to pick on 17-year olds, and normally I could give a shit, but they’re always all up in my face on the internet. I’m thinking in particular of this one dude on this one message board who’s always posting about his band and is always like “OMG, we just laid down some new tracks and they sound AWESOME, seriously check it out it will blow ur mind.” And then you click on it and it’s like 3rd rate White Stripes rip-offs with generic riffs and no melody. I mean, they might have energy, and they might play their instruments more than competently, but there are no songs. Maybe I’m just being curmudgeonly when I allow the fact that these bands think they can be awesome based on sound and attitude alone without bothering to do anything worth a shit in the songwriting department to bother me. You have to write songs, and not just riffs, to be good (especially when those riffs aren’t any good anyway), and especially to justify having such an inflated goddamn opinion of yourself. Do you know why the Stooges are great? Because the played fast and kicked ass, but also because they write great songs.

Or at least they used to. This long-awaited reunion album of the Fun House-era band—Iggy and the Ashetons, with, incredibly, Mike Watt of the Minutemen on bass—presents the Stooges as a bunch of 17-year olds who play fast and kick ass but have no idea how to write songs. Or, more accurately, a bunch of 17-year olds with a very confused old man singing for them. Which brings me to a question I hoped I’d never have to ask: since when does Iggy Pop suck? I mean, I realize he’s well past the peak of his career, and he hasn’t put on a shirt in at least 45 years, which has made for increasingly more grotesque displays of smack-ravaged musculature as the years have gone by. But, come on, Mr. Osterberg, if you’re planning to make an album with a band who produced an oeuvre as small but staggeringly potent as the Stooges did way back when, the fact that you’ve miraculously managed to not die in the interim decades simply isn’t gonna cut it alone. You have to put in some goddamn effort, and sadly, for The Weirdness, you just didn’t. At all.

I’m going to stop addressing Iggy Pop and begin addressing you, the reader. Hello, reader. Allow me to inform you that The Weirdness is a collection of nearly riffless, tuff garage rock skullduggery with dismal vocals by a once-great band. Now, I’ll admit, the Ashetons turn in some impressively energetic performances here, especially considering the fact that they were both 197 years old at this point. The album absolutely “rocks” on a superficial level, with little let-up, and the brothers attack the material with plenty of youthful vigor (as for the bass, well, I guess they recruited Mike Watt as nod to their punk legacy or whatever, but I can barely even hear any bass anywhere on the album). But this is negated by Ron’s near-complete inability to come up with decent riffs – not to mention his now-personality-free, Guitar Center-style soloing. What he does bash out is dull, flat, and made exponentially worse by Iggy’s insistence on lazily forcing non-melodies out of his mouth that mostly do nothing but copy the guitars’ non-riffs. Now, it nearly always smacks of laziness when singers’ vocal melodies follow guitar riffs exactly (though it can work when the riff is really good, ie “Iron Man”), but it’s especially bad when the riffs and the singing are completely uninteresting. Not to mention the absolutely horrendous lyrics throughout, which often appear to be attempts at social commentary and leave Iggy seeming about as politically insightful as the Obamas’ dog – it’s a far cry from the nihilistic fury he used to project. All together, it just makes for a whole lot of drudgery, and a whole lot of “why did they bother making this album?”

Now, I don’t agree with the whole “bands should just retire when they stop being good! They destroy their legacies!” thing. Bands should be able to do what makes them happy, and if making terrible records is what makes them happy, then fine. If you don’t like them, the old records are still there, and there’s always a chance they might come up with something worthwhile. And there are a few worthwhile things here. ”My Idea Of Fun” is a dark, driving rocker with an actual riff, and is good in spite of its written-by-a-6-year-old hook line (“my idea of fun is killing everyone!” Wow). And, holy shit, “Free & Freaky” actually has something resembling a catchy chorus (with harmony vocals by Detrioter and Raconteur Brendan Benson)! This thing is turning into a masterpiece all of a sudden! I can also appreciate the title track for at least attempting something different (it sounds weirdly like “Star Me Kitten” by R.E.M.). But this appreciably solid three-song sequence is followed immediately by “Greedy Awful People,” quite possibly the most interminable 2-minute garage rock song ever created by mankind, and it’s right back to the same old shit. I suppose “Mexican Guy” attempts to do something different as well, but I have no idea what that something is supposed to be and the song sucks. Also, it’s called “Mexican Guy.”

This album really has no reason to exist, and I have no reason to listen to it ever again. They even manage to drag Fun House sax player Steve Mackay through the mud with them by having him come in and play a few dull, smooth jazzy lines that are about as stylistically far from his crazed squawking on “Fun House” as can be possibly imagined. I have a hunch that a sequel might be coming, too – the Stooges remain an active band even after Ron’s death in 2009, with James Williamson retaking the guitar slot. You know what that means? Raw Power 2: Even RAWRer!

Spare us, please.



One Comment

  1. Emily wrote:

    I’m glad you posted a link to Butt Town. More people need to know about Butt Town.