It's possible to sum up the release of 2007's The Weirdness, the first proper studio full-length by the Stooges in 34 years, in one word, one sentence, one bewildered query: Why!? Why, after a celebrated solo career and solidified slot in the rock â??n' roll record books, would Iggy and the Asheton brothers deem it warranted to reunite and record the songs written for this album?
To be fair, Iggy Pop has never been a strong lyricist. It was more the stage-diving and peanut butter-smearing that made Iggy such a charismatic frontman than any stratum of stirring articulation. Sure, lyrics to songs like "Real Cool Time" and "I Need Somebody" were raw and clumsy, but so was the band and the music they were developing. But when a 59-year-old Pop is writing songs more juvenile than his theme song for "Space Goofs," the results are much less suitable.
There's so much that's wrong with this album, it's straining to recall all of its built-in potential. For one, the return of Ron and Scott Asheton (both original members) along with saxist Steve Mackay who had contributed to the epic jams of 1970's Fun House made this not only a legit reunion, but offered hope that whatever sparked the genius behind the first three Stooges records would combust again. Throw punk-bass extraordinaire Mike Watt of the Minutemen, fIREHOSE and Dos in as an honorary member and hire legendary producer Steve Albini to twist the knobs, and you would seem to have the makings of a great record.
But it all falls flat, and for a number of reasons. First, the band seems to be trying to emulate their own sluggish, sloppy sound from 40 years ago. The problem is that it's not 1969 anymore, and the aesthetic sounds forced and unnatural, magnified by the dulling production of Albini. Watt's low-end contributions are so far drowned in the mix it's impossible to tell someone of even considerable talent is playing, no less one of the most inventive bassists in music.
Not surprisingly, there aren't many convincing hooks on The Weirdness, though the album's single "Free and Freaky" probably comes the closest. Coincidentally, the same song is also the purveyor of some of the worst lyrics in the history of rock â??n' roll: "England and France / These cultures are old / The cheese is stinky / And the beer ain't cold / When I go over there I gotta walk bold." Between the opener "Trollin'," the title track and the obnoxiously bad "The End of Christianity" (which rivals Wesley Willis for off-key wailing), Pop comes across as more of a future target for "To Catch a Predator" than a vehement beast possessed by music. Some convenient marketing suddenly found Pop as a good friend of skateboarding Jackass Bam Margera just in time for the album's release and the finale of "Bam's Unholy Union." Though Bam's marriage to future Playboy model Missy Rothstein wouldn't last, the ear damage of every wedding guest in attendence as Iggy and co. howled out "My Idea of Fun" would probably have more staying power than The Weirdness.
The Stooges will always be remembered for the contributions of their first three albums. Songs like "Search and Destroy," "No Fun" and "I Wanna Be Your Dog" have not only stood the test of time, but continue to inspire bands today. Sadly, The Weirdness offers no such contributions, and serves only to tarnish the legacy of a such a legendary band.