PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

The Stooges: The Weirdness

Legendary proto-punk band led by Iggy Pop reunites after 30 years and makes a record with the help of Steve Albini and Mike Watt.


The Stooges

The Weirdness

Contributors: Mike Watt, Steve Albini, Steve Mackay
Label: Virgin
US Release Date: 2007-03-06
UK Release Date: 2007-03-05
Amazon
iTunes

Until now, the Stooges' place in rock 'n' roll history was an ephemeral A-bomb of bullish sludge. Between 1969 and 1973, the Ann Arbor, Michigan band released three punk rock-predicting official albums -- The Stooges, Fun House, and Raw Power -- before imploding, and its influence has been acknowledged only in retrospect. The Stooges made the kind of rock music that their name suggested: regressive and socially counterrevolutionary, blockheaded and abrasive, big and dumb. There was sincerity to their dumbness, however, a feeling that the sexually-charged indifference of "Loose" and naïve nihilism of "1969" were statements of no-bullshit truth. Equally sincere was the band's remedial music ability; big block chords were struck sans finesse, the scream theatre of histrionic frontman Iggy Pop was a contemptuous dismissal of classicist singing, and actual songs were scarce (most of Fun House, for example, is more or less built around one simple guitar riff). The Stooges were a brief reminder of rock 'n' roll's explosive genuineness and terminal simplicity -- to exist for a longer period of time than they did would have negated the immediacy of their sound.

Now comes The Weirdness, the Stooges' fourth official studio record and first since the band's recent reunion some 30 years after its breakup. (Original band members Ron and Scott Asheton, who also appeared on Pop's 2003 album Skull Ring, return on guitar and drums; Mike Watt, of the Minutemen and fIREHOSE, replaces bassist Dave Alexander, who died of pneumonia in 1975; saxophonist Steve Mackay, who appeared abrasively on a handful of Fun House's tracks, drops in for a few songs.) The Weirdness complicates the Stooges' once-tidy history just by existing, and yet it is a very poor record, which complicates things even further. Like every other inferior album by a defunct cult band that has unexpectedly reunited, it is a danger to the band's legacy. Every assessment or endorsement of the Stooges must now be made with The Weirdness somewhere in the equation, and most fans will no doubt reference it with either apology or dismissal. Exactly why was this album made?

The Stooges are no longer the band they used to be, even if most of the original members are still in the picture. Their sincere dumbness has been replaced on The Weirdness with a prosaic, fat-bellied contentedness. That's probably to be expected, admittedly, since Pop turns 60 years old this year and the band no longer ingests Herculean amounts of acid. The riffs sound like they're trying to be more complicated than they actually are, resulting in the near-tone-deaf hooks of "Trollin'" and "My Idea of Fun". While the band may have made its name on chaotically anonymous instrumentation, here it sounds downright unmemorable. Steve Albini's unobtrusive "recording" hides nothing, exposing the band like unforgiving fluorescent lights above a vanity mirror.

Still, Pop may be his and the band's worst enemy. His declarations of horniness ("My dick is growing into a tree") are laughably juvenile and, in this post-Tenacious D age, reek of unintentional parody. Ditto on his political rants: "My Idea of Fun" finds Pop lamenting "Now is the season / For war with no reason", a weak recap of the clenched-fist stance that "Search and Destroy" took in the '70s. Pop also makes numerous attempts at melody, in songs like "You Can't Have Friends" and "The End of Christianity". It's a fruitless pursuit (surprise!), one that the band never embarked upon in the first place (remember, the "chorus" of "I Wanna Be Your Dog" involves one note stretched over seven repeated syllables). Pop isn't drawing the line between his solo work and the Stooges on The Weirdness, instead substituting an excess of words for the wordless grunts, howls, and shrieks that used to define his band's riotous sound.

This isn't to say that an older, wiser version of the Stooges must sound like it once did. Instead, a less absurd expectation has not been met; the Stooges have failed to remain an exclusive phenomenon belonging to a very particular zeitgeist in rock 'n' roll culture. It's human to want to tamper with something that's in no need of tampering. We all have obsessive-compulsive urges, no matter how dormant, to edit a perfectly decent creation or reanimate a past glory. The Stooges are only human, after all, and we can't fault them that. The Weirdness, on the other hand, will never be excused so kindly.

3

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.