Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Review: The Stooges: The Weirdness

Early today I was looking something up on All Music and came across their review of the new Stooges album, The Weirdness (released today). It was an incredibly harsh review. The sad thing is, I agreed with pretty much all of the writer's complaints.

I've been anticipating this album from the day the project was announced. The fact that the New York Dolls pulled off a reunion album fairly well (last year's One Day it Will Please Us to Remember Even This) gave me confidence that the Stooges disc would be at least as good. How could it not be? One of my favorite bands of all time reuniting, recruiting Mike Watt on bass, being produced by Steve Albini? How could it possibly go wrong? I was further enticed by "My Idea of Fun," which has been on the band's Myspace page for a couple of months. The song fucking rocks. It's exactly what I'd hoped the marriage of the Stooges and Steve Albini to sound like.

I rarely run to the store on the day of a release anymore. Generally, it's only with albums by my very favorite artists (Prince, Bowie, the White Stripes, etc.) that I make a point. So today after a morning appointment, I went to Best Buy to pick up my most anticipated disc of the year thusfar.

I threw it in as soon as I got to the car. The first song, "Trollin'" was so-so. Knowing the strength of the single, I was confident the disc would get stronger.

Unfortunately, it got worse.

The music is decent. The Ashetons and Mike Watt lay down some pretty solid rock. Not mind blowing, but pretty good. It pains me to say this, but the problem with the album is Iggy. The lyrics are absolutely horrible. They're incredibly trite, and at times even embarrassing to listen to:

"I hang out at the ATM / I hang out at the ATM / The Stooges fight poverty in secret / The Stooges fight poverty in secret" ("ATM")

"Deep fried / Refried / Stir fried / I'm Fried" ("I'm Fried")

"Maybe I should swallow a little pill / Maybe I should listen to Dr. Phil" ("Mexican Guy")

Wait...did Iggy Pop just name drop Dr. fucking Phil?

If the lyrics are subpar in their content, they are equally so in their delivery. Iggy's voice is rarely on in these songs. As the All Music review notes, it's often flat or sharp. The vocal rhythm is often not quite right either.

Look, I wasn't expecting them to remake Fun House. In fact, I expected that out of 12 songs, 9 would have been solid. But really, "My Idea of Fun" remains the shining moment here. There are other songs that are decent, but nothing even close to living up to the legacy this band holds in rock history. On Zack's report card of rock, The Weirdness at best garners a C (and I think that's being pretty generous).

I'm told that the band's live shows are still excellent. Perhaps they should have stayed on the stage and out of the studio. 30 years from now, this album will be largely forgotten. The original trilogy of 1969's self-titled debut, 1970's Fun House and 1973's Raw Power will remain the band's canon. And rightly so. Personally, I'd like to just pretend that The Weirdness never happened.

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