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Over three decades later,
The Stooges - The Weirdness
Review by Holiday GirodAfter a thirty-three year silence on record The Stooges have reassembled for their fourth proper full-length album entitled The Weirdness. On it original vocalist Iggy Pop, guitarist Ron Asheton, drummer Scott Asheton, sax player Steve Mackay and newcomer Mike Watt (Minuteman / Firehose) have created a trainwreck of a record. Of course for true Stooges fans this could be a great thing - considering that the pummeling rhythms, walls of bombastic guitars and minimalist, often nihilistic lyrics (dealing with boredom, anger, sex and drugs) that this important American band laid down in the late '60s and early '70s not only helped derail the peace and love flower-power movement, but also helped to lay the foundation for all future incarnations of punk rock.
Produced by Steve Albini (Nirvana, Pixies) the sonics on The Weirdness, unfortunately, never come close to the volatile bludgeoning of the Stooges' second album Fun House (1970), nor touch the incendiary, needle-buried-in-the-red production of their last effort from 1973 Raw Power. But comparisons to their older material aside the band does manage to hit some highs, as proved on the opening rocker "Trollin'," "Greedy Awful People," as well as the Bo Diddley-shuffle on "Mexican Guy," where Ron's guitar turns lethal weapon as he slashes and cuts the second half of the number to shreds. Unfortunately, however, the entire album fails to follow suit. The Stooges were truly a dangerous act when they began thirty-eight years ago, but now - on record at least - they sound more like the legions of bands that have tried in vain to tap into the essence of The Stooges' original formula.
Never mind that the songs themselves aren't expertly crafted, because, quite frankly, these guys have never been known for their brilliant song craft. What they were experts in, however, was taking their rudimentary songs and turning them into something so menacing that young men felt threatened and parents had to lock up their daughters. And with the dog-collared frontman Pop antagonizing his unsuspecting audience with these explosive songs it made it even more exhilarating to witness in the flesh. Whether he was walking atop the hands of the crowd to smear peanut butter on himself or cutting his chest with broken glass, or egging-on his audience to the point of getting punched out onstage (documented on The Stooges' posthumous 1976 live release Metallic K.O. which shows a photo of Pop knocked-out cold by an audience member on the album's cover) The Stooges were always capable of shocking.
Being a longtime fan (I must've spun those first three albums hundreds of times, and will certainly wear out the grooves hundreds more) it pains me to say that I probably won't listen to this record any more than I have any of Iggy Pop's recent solo efforts - which is virtually nil. In defense of this incarnation of The Stooges, however, I have to also admit when I witnessed their hometown Detroit reunion show a few years ago it was the single most exciting rock & roll show I've had the pleasure to attend. So while The Weirdness may get passed over here, I guarantee I'll be at their upcoming live show... if only to see what Iggy and his longtime cohorts have to throw at us this time.
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