The Stooges
The Weirdness


0.5

Review

by Dr Dave De Sylvia STAFF
March 2nd, 2007 | 27 replies | 14,741 views


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Iggy is trying to say something but amid the flurry of noise it’s difficult to make out anything let alone decipher it

I don’t care much for legacies. I’m a card-carrying (well, do t-shirts count?) devotee of the latter-day Guns N’ Roses cult and, as much as I love Jeff Buckley, it annoys me that his death has been romanticised to the degree that it has.

Even I had reservations about a fourth Stooges album, however, but not so much for the fact that it threatened to tarnish a much-polished legend; in fact, I applaud the group for resisting the lure of the KISS route and actually becoming a living, creative band. But the thought of four old dudes reunited for the first time in thirty-seven years reliving their youth while the perpetually cool Mike Watt watched on in horror was too much of a possibility. Well, I needn’t have worried on that score- The Weirdness is definitely not a nostalgia record. The problem is that it’s not a whole lot of other things either, important things.

The band need little introduction, and even the unfamiliar could derive most of what they need from the name. A foursome of burnouts from urban Ann Arbor, Michigan, The Stooges emerged from a cloud of smoke at the tail-end of the psychedelic era, blending the raw experimentalism of that movement with base, aggressive blues, fusing The Doors with The Who and taking cue from The Velvet Underground as much as fellow Michiganders MC5. Fun House and Raw Power, their second and third albums respectively, were instrumental in the formation of punk rock and subsequent forms of heavy metal, and it’s the Fun House line-up of The Stooges, with Watt (The Minutemen, fIREHOSE) replacing the deceased Dave Alexander, that reconvened to record The Weirdness late last year with engineer/producer Steve Albini (Pixies’ Surfer Rosa, Nirvana’s In Utero)- the ideal candidate to capture the same minimally-produced “live” feel as the first three albums.

Yet not even the presence of Albini is enough to breathe life into this album. In fact, he’s part of the problem. Comparisons between the latter-day Stooges and the twenty-somethings who produced Fun House and Raw Power are necessary, however unrealistic, if only to demonstrate the group’s capabilities against the tepid reality of The Weirdness. The loud, speaker-busting mix of Raw Power, which stands as tall today as one of the most brave (or most arrogant) statements ever committed to record, rightly emphasised the importance of Iggy Pop as a vocalist above the band; Albini’s mix ignores this necessary emphasis and records the band together as one muddy whole, though he’s not helped any by Iggy who, even allowing for deterioration from years of substance abuse and loud music, puts in is his worst vocal performance to date, fragile and frequently out of key- in a teenage band way, rather than anything deliberate or indicative of emotion.

The album continues the teenage theme, blowing its load embarrassingly early over the first track ‘Trollin’,’ never really recovering- and the aftermath is every bit as awkward and humiliating as one would expect. Though Iggy’s never been a particularly wordy smith, he’s always had a way of writing vivid and memorable lines with his simple tools, but if he’s still got the gift there’s little of it on show here. ‘Free and Freaky’ isn’t the worst example, but certainly deserves some sort of consolation prize as Iggy slaps together a six-word verse consisting entirely of words ending in “a,” singing “Alabama/Dalai Lama/Baby mama/Madonna/Benihana/Intifada” with admitted conviction. ‘My Idea of Fun’ completes the thought with “is killing everyone,” and Iggy one-ups Tom Delonge on ‘Trollin’’ as he boasts “my dick is turning into a tree.” In ‘Greedy Awful People’ he sings “I can’t live among my class, I’m thinking only about scoring your piece of ass,” adding a self-satisfied “I’m so crass!” Yeah, in his position, I wouldn’t be so smug.

Cringe-worthy lines are unfortunately rampant through The Weirdness’s (long) forty minutes but a silver lining is far more difficult to locate. ‘Trollin’’ and ‘You Can’t Have Friends’ at least kick things off with a little energy, the former sporting some delightfully wiry Harrison-esque lead guitar fills, but the initial excitement soon subsides as the riffs and one-line choruses become somewhat indistinguishable. ‘Mexican Guy’ is a highlight (again, despite the lyrics), a throwback to the spacious psychedelia of Fun House driven by a loose Bo Diddley beat, and the title track is at least an engaging Bowie-esque blues, but it’s only temporary respite. The rest of the album plays like a foreign language soap opera: Ron Asheton can’t seem to work out whether he wants to be a two-chord wonder or Slash, and Iggy is clearly trying to say something, but amid the flurry of noise it’s difficult to actually make out what anyone is saying, let alone decipher it.

If The Weirdness inspires anybody to dig out any of the classic Stooges records, or even Iggy Pop’s Kill City, it’ll be a worthwhile enterprise. And, if this review inspires anybody to skip the first step, that’s an even greater result.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
MrKite
March 3rd 2007



5020 Comments


You're definitely one of the best reviewers on the site.
Really awesome review. I'll wait for some more reviews before I make a final decision, but I probably won't get this. I was excited for it before but it sounds horrible.

HumanCannonball
March 3rd 2007



350 Comments


0.5?

Now I am really REALLY scared.

I was so psyched about the new record

AlienEater
March 3rd 2007



716 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I knew this would suck

Kyle
March 3rd 2007



667 Comments


Wow this is a really low score for you. It's a terrible record but i'd probably give it a 1.5 or something.

The Jungler
March 3rd 2007



4827 Comments


Fantastic review, the summary was hilarious.
I don't know why I've never listened to a full Stooges record. I just haven't.

MrKite
March 3rd 2007



5020 Comments


I don't know why Iggy's voice is terrible. I watched some concerts they did in 06 and it was fine.

tom79
March 3rd 2007



3363 Comments


Whoa, I wasn't expecting a Raw Power or anything, but I hoped this would be still somewhat decent. I kinda guessed the lyrics would suck though. Meh, I'm still gonna download some of this sooner or later. Review was great too.

Digging: Joyce Manor - Never Hungover Again

slep
March 3rd 2007



1604 Comments


Wait, I thought this was the new record for 07?

Kaleid
March 3rd 2007



710 Comments


Wow. I used to quite like Iggy. What a shame. It sounds like the musical equivalent of your dad getting drunk at a party and dancing in front of you, telling you he's still got it.
Superb review


Eliminator
March 3rd 2007



2067 Comments


A lot of those song titles bare resemblance to the internet.

br3ad_man
Emeritus
March 3rd 2007



2125 Comments


Great review. Thanks to the review, I probably won't check this out. I was extremely skeptical to begin with.

londoncalling457
March 3rd 2007



2590 Comments


I didn't really expect this to be all that great. I mean you can't expect it to be as it was 35-40 years ago. But hey, they got my respect for putting this out.

trustxdialect
March 4th 2007



1502 Comments


Alternative Press gave this the exact same rating. Awesome review.

HumanCannonball
March 4th 2007



350 Comments


"and Iggy one-ups Tom Delonge on ‘Trollin’’ as he boasts “my dick is turning into a tree.”"

OUCH.

AtavanHalen
March 10th 2007



17927 Comments


Better than your Kaiser Cheifs review. I'm gonna have to hear this record for myself.

DivineMarquis
March 30th 2007



1 Comments


I think one thing you're missing is that Albini (Kurt Cobain famously slagged him off as "thinking he's Mr. Punk Rock") is part of the PROBLEM here. Albini ruins more albums than he helps. If you listen to "My Idea of Fun" on the Telluric Chaos live album from this lineup of The Stooges, for instance, it sounds much better in that form, with the sax bursting through on the chorus (closer to "Kill City" style Stooges), than it does on the later Albini version. Iggy is definitely off his game here, but he had help from Albini. Perhaps the Dum Dum boys should have gone all the way back and got John Cale to produce the record: I guarantee it would be much a better result if they had. This Message Edited On 03.30.07

MrKite
March 30th 2007



5020 Comments


Kurt Cobain famously slagged him off as "thinking he's Mr. Punk Rock"

I thought Kurt liked Albini.

Ouch
May 10th 2008



546 Comments


The St. Anger of Punk.

KoolThing
May 15th 2008



8 Comments


Very well written review. I applaud your diction and detail not only to the songs, but the production of the album. I couldn't agree more with your score, this was by far one of the worst albums of 2007 which is depressing because The Stooges are one of my favourite bands, and after a 37 year length from one studio album to the other I was hoping it would be a lot better than what we got.

Enotron
December 31st 2009



7695 Comments


the ratings make me wanna give this a 5 just to be different



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