Review Summary: Proto-punk heroes return after 30-odd years. Mission "Spoil Legacy" accomplished.
Woo-hoo! Let's all celebrate cos the Stooges are back! What's changed for the legendary forefathers of many (or all) things punk rock through the years since their glorious(???) disintegration in 1973? Well, on the surface, not even that much. Iggy Pop still wears his trusty "jeans and no shirt" combination on stage, even though he looks strangely metalhead-esque now, guitar Ron Asheton still looks like the cynical asshole next door, especially with his additional weight and that mean little piece of facial hair. His brother Scott (drums) essentially has the same "generic, booze-happy rocker" looks he's had back in the day as well. Bassist Dave Alexander, who actually died shortly after the band split up, is replaced by Mike Watt of Minutemen/fIREHOSE (among others) fame and Steve Albini, America’s finest when it comes to ugly, noisy rock music produces. Steve Mackay, who played some sax on their legendary Fun House album is there too. So all’s well and the band’s new 2007 album The Weirdness is a “great, mature comeback”, right? Well, actually, no.
Right when you (iggy) pop the CD in (or play an illegal copy of it on your computer), you know something’s wrong. Well, no, actually, everything seems right at the very first glance, the song is introduced by one of Iggy’s famous “huh!” grunts, the guitar is noisy and heavy, the bass rumbles and the drums bang appropriately. Props to ol’ Stevie A. The production’s really fitting.
But wait, there actually IS a lot wrong. First of all, the music feels very generic-hardrocky and almost life-affirming. The heroin-addled bleakness and subversive energy from their old albums is completely gone, replaced by something that’s far closer to the 70’s revival *** any second-class “stoner rock” band plays these days. The whole album, with the exception of the title track, which tries to sound like Fun House’s Dirt but miserably fails and Passing Cloud, which is a pathetic attempt at the boring psychedelia the Stooges rebelled against in the 60’s/70’s. Nice sax though.
Iggy’s vocal delivery is terrible as well, to say the least. He’s had that snarling voice with the “*** off” attitude kinda implanted into it back in the days, but now he just sounds like some dude who sings for some bar room blues band. I acknowledge he’s almost 60 now, and his past self is one of my favorite rock singers, but there’s others that are just as old and don’t completely suck (Mick Jagger, Robert Plant, even Paul McCartney!), so that’s no ***ing excuse, really. And My Idea Of Fun seriously has the most out of tune chorus vocal melody I ever heard on a non-Syd Barrett record. That’s actually what ruins this album for me. Without Iggy’s ***ty-ass performance, it would’ve been passable, but this way it just stinks.
Even the so-primitive-they’re-brilliant tongue in cheek lyrics have been replaced by uhhmm… dumb and embarrassing tongue in cheek lyrics. The album opener Trollin’ has Iggy boasting about how big his wiener is and how many girls he can *** with it. Sorry, but I just find that extremely hard to take seriously, especially since it’s coming from a 60-year-old, and if it’s a joke, it’s a bad one. I mean, when he sang “Now I’m ready to feel your hand/and lose my heart on the burnin’ sand” in I Wanna Be Your Dog in 1969, it was clever in all its simplicity, but “My dick just turned into a tree” is nothing but juvenile and stupid (may I remind you of the guy’s age again!) Free And Freaky ain’t better either. "Alabama/ Dalai Lama/ Baby mama/ Madonna/ Benihana/ Intifada", and that’s actually how it goes. Nothing to add there. Where have all the Stooges gone?
In conclusion, the sad thing about The Weirdness is that it’s not just bad, Iggy Pop lets you know all the time, which is a pity, because the other band members’ as well as Steve Albini’s contributions are actually rather good and would make for a nice dirty rock’n’roll album, if the singer hadn’t chosen to go down the juvenile route, lyrically and the forgettable route, vocally. “Rock critics wont’t like this at all”, he sings right at the beginning of the album. Well, I’m at least an amateur critic and I don’t ***ing like this piece of ***. At least Iggy seems to be happy about that.