Saturday, March 17, 2007

Iggy and the Stooges-THE WEIRDNESS CD (Virgin)

I was wonderin' what Tim Ellison meant when he wrote "awaiting your Stooges review" in the previous post's comment box! Turns out that yeah, the Stooges DO have a new album out, something which usually wouldn't excite me that much after all of the reunion burns that I've encountered over the years but somehow I had the feeling that Iggy and crew would still have the testosterone to pull it off with elan. After all, that Skydog live disque I reviewed a few months back was the proverbial mofo, so why shouldn't this one be as well even though it has the taint of major label hijinx attached to it? Tim's own blog points the way to where one can hear a free download of the thing (which is, to be polite about it, titled THE WEIRDNESS) and in order to save yourself a trip over to his site which is certainly worth hitting after you read mine, I thought I'd link it up for your own pleasure right here so maybe you can listen to it as well and tell me where I'm wrong.

And, as I sorta half-hearted expected, the Stooges turned out another good one. Yeah I was worried, especially after Iggy went through just about as many ch-ch-ch-ch-changes as mentor Bowie to the point where he was Mister Clean during the antiseptic eighties and wasted grungefather in the fecal nineties, but thankfully the Asheton Brothers were able to harness the original Ig Power back to its purest form and what we've got for it is a pretty fun (and fun like it's 1973 and you're a teenager on the PROWL!) record. Now it ain't prime cut Stooges like those classic '69-'73 sides were, but it's sure a lot better'n solo Iggy embarrassing himself (and everyone who stuck up for him) with lackluster-to-downright-horrid material and a general toss off style that, come to think of it, was about as shallow as all of those nineties geeks who were emulating the Ig inna first place were!

Smart playing (Ron Asheton having lost none of his chops despite playing in a series of nowhere bands post-Destroy All Monsters), smart lyrics (I kinda likes that surprise line on opener "Trollin'" where Iggy compares a certain appendage of his to a tree, something which I doubt has been done in the history of said appendage comparisons) and especially smart music make THE WEIRDNESS a true-blue winner that even I'm surprised could've been created by a buncha guys I never thought woulda made it outta the mid-seventies alive! All of the hot chic flash of ROCK SCENE and heavy metal madness of CREEM coupled with the rebirth of the back room at Max's Kansas City can be heard on this album, and it's especially potent in the here-and-now considering there's no more high-energy rock press to bolster our cravings or even a back room at Max's to appear bohemian snat. Heck, there ain't even a CBGB left so what's a fellow to do when he wants to come off decadent in an age when even the faggots wanna act like THE BRADY BUNCH!!!

Like Elliot Murphy, I ain't gonna give this a track-by-track rundown even though I'm positive a good portion of you readers were top notch students when it came to better living through chemistry. But take it from Uncle Chris...just about every number here is pretty hot, in varying increments mind ya but hotsy-totsy nonetheless. The ones I especially grooved on were the title track (which is to "Harlem Nocturne" [or was it "I Only Have Eyes For You"???] what "I Need Somebody" was to "St. James Infirmary"), "Mexican Guy" (a neat-o reminiscence of El Lay '74 complete with refs to Iggy spotting Chuck Berry, Frank Zappa ["eating a lowly hot dog"!!!!] and the Troggs that captures the essence of the place and era so well that you kinda'd expect Don Waller or Kim Fowley to figure into it somehow!) and "Free and Freaky" (the Dictators' "I Stand Tall" for the oh-oh's!). The others might vary in energy quotients but it ain't like they're fact there ain't one in the batch and you can tell that by the song titles which are some of the wildest since the first Budgie album. I mean, how can you lose with tuneage going under such slick monikers as "I'm Fried," "Passing Cloud," "ATM" (the Stooges are one band that keeps up with current technological ain't like they've been in a Vietnamese re-education camp these past thirtysome years!) and "She Took My Money" anyway? Or even a numbuh with the provocative title of "The End of Christianity" and I dunno what it's about despite three spins so maybe you Jesus Freaks out there'll get into it like I did!

And it is pretty smart like I mentioned earlier. The playing is excellent, the sound hot nerve-scrape, and even Steve Mackay or a good imitator gets a few sax licks in here 'n there! And with the miracle of modern internet you don't even have to buy yourself a copy! Just download it and save yourself the moolah even though Ig and crew will hafta stay macrobiotic in the process. Well, just think of their health for once!


tim ellison said...

The "faggot" epithet comes off a little combative, Chris. : D

In any case, some really, really great lines about the album here. True insights, and allow me to say that you are truly one of the greats. Ever. I'm gonna throw out a challenge on one point, though. I think you are romanticizing the past. You say it's not as good as the three old Stooges albums, but how is it not? What is it lacking?

"The End of Christianity" is about monogamy, I think.

Christopher said...

The "faggot" epithet comes off a little combative, Chris.

Oh boy, I'm really getting into Ann Coulter territory now! I dunno, I've been using that word and so has Archie Bunker and Wayne McGuire on and on for years already and suddenly it seems as if more than a few people now think it's offensive...well it IS!!! Maybe that's the point of it. (I most certainly used the word in light of the recent brouhaha regarding Coulter and Edwards...I figure that, as a writer, I've GOTTA DO MY PART TO HELP KEEP AMERIGA FREE and that would include offending people who have been going outta their ways to offend me well over two decades! Really it is "tit for tat" and all, but why shouldn't I throw nasty words at folk who seem to revel in knocking midclass Amerigan suburban nuclear family structures every chance they get, and get a free pass from commentators at large?) Anyway, if I wanted to really be "combative" with regards to offending protected classes of people I could think of a lot stronger terms to toss about! (But I won't, since I really don't have a beef with folk even if certain segments of their population are little more than shills for a society I want no part of!) As you'd probably guess I believe "faggot" to be pretty mild a "slur" or whatever, on par with my usage of slang terminology along the lines of "dago" and "polack" which I know won't get me in trouble with any Thought Police cruising the web these days! Which would figure...they'd probably APPLAUD me if I used those words more often!

I'm gonna throw out a challenge on one point, though. I think you are romanticizing the past. You say it's not as good as the three old Stooges albums, but how is it not? What is it lacking?

Yeah, I can see myself "romanticizing the past" as you say, mainly because it's that very same past that formed almost all of my values, tastes and ideals towards what I listen to, read and watch. (I am a "stick-in-the-mud" at times, make no mistake.) And yeah, I probably was a tad derelict in detailing just what I thought THE WEIRDNESS might have been lacking as far as total jamz go. (But then again hey, I coulda done a two-parted like Lester Bangs did with FUNHOUSE in the pages of CREEM had I, like Bangs, all of the time, stamina and artificial energy to do so!) Well, I could say that the album didn't have the primitive teenage post-Diddley thunk or low-budget Seeds-derived snarl of THE STOOGES, nor did it blast out into pure nova energy like FUNHOUSE, nor was it a low-fidelity metallic street scuzz slapper like RAW POWER. Of course it has its own impeccable merits as you can read (and hear), but at least as far as initial impressions go perhaps it doesn't quite soar to previous heights. (But then again I could've said the same thing about THE STOOGES which I didn't quite absorb during my initial spin or RAW POWER which I merely "liked a lot"...both of those records eventually soaked in to the point of being all-time faves naturally! Oddly enough, FUNHOUSE was a hit upon my first spin!)

I'd say, if I were Jonathan Richman (who panned FUNHOUSE in the pages of FUSION as part of a pro/con review segment with Ben Edmonds taking the affirmative!), THE WEIRDNESS sorta straddles the "made it" line while the three original Stooges platters (and METALLIC KO) hover way above. Not that I was expecting miracles, but
maybe the toll of moderne thought, production and general Stooge deification did affect this even if only in the slightest.

"The End of Christianity" is about monogamy, I think.

I originally thought it might have been about a return to pagan ideals! Then again, I doubt that Iggy and Company ever left those ideals in the first place...

Christopher said...

As usual, keep in mind that I wrote the above late Saturday night, after having been up since four in the morning (no caffeine in the system either...tryin' t' cut down) which would explain some of the mis-spellings and run ons that can be found therein.

tim ellison said...

Here's the main thing for me: lyrically, this album is way beyond the three old Stooges albums. Musically, I suppose I could say it's about equal, but the thing, I think, that sets it apart for me is the effective, primal simplicity of the melodic hooks Iggy is singing in these songs. Just about every phrase seems like a winner to me and there are a lot of them over the course of this album!

Rob Grinstein said...

I hated this album when I heard the tracks on radio - the track I heard - 'my idea of fun' - Iggy sounds like a male version of Kim Gordon.

I downloaded it, and am starting to really dig it, but it really is Asheton's record.

Steve Albini though should be killed. His production is more pederastrian than Gary Glitter on a Vietnam holiday.

The Barman said...

Ordinary songs. Woeful production. It's a close run thing for which is worse, Iggy's vocal or the lyrics.

You can barely hear Ron's leads and the rhythm playing is often reduced to a dull grind.

It should have been called The Emperor's New Clothes.

David Houser said...

Geez, I just don't hear it. It sounds even more lackluster and uninspired than the Iggy records of the last two decades that I haven't bothered to listen to all the way through. If this was a completely new band, with no name in the band that anyone knew, how many people would care?

Anonymous said...

It's just HORRIBLE in every way, especially the lyrics. "My idea of fun is killing everyone?" I could shit that garbage out in my sleep. I hear better records from clueless teenagers every week. You're duping yourself.


Anonymous said...

"The Weirdness" sounds good, but the songwriting is lacking for the most part. It seems that the songs were just made up on the spur of the moment. Now I'm not expecting Iggy to be Brian Wilson or Burt Bacharach, but it seems like the songwriting was just tossed off rather carelessly and disposably and no effort was made to write good songs. It's all surface, no substance. It's hardly terrible but rather forgettable - perhaps because calling it a "Stooges" album raises all sort of false expectations. Maybe if it had been billed as an Iggy album rather than a Stooges album it wouldn't be judged so harshly.

tim ellison said...

I think it's fantastic but surely I'm duping myself.