The Stooges – The Weirdness

The Stooges
The Weirdness

Dear Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Committee,

It has come to my attention that over the past few years Iggy & the Stooges have been nominated for inclusion into your institution. And for various reasons they have been shut out every time. Now, I am just a lowly “rock critic” for the low brow medium of online journalism so my vote apparently doesn’t matter. But let me tell you that up until March 6th, 2007 Iggy and his Stooges belonged in your shrine. If you’ll indulge me to go into detail a bit as to why this is as obviously the voters have no clue.

The Stooges put out 3 of the most amazing blistering punk rock records ever. This was all back in the late 60’s when “punk” was just beginning as a term or movement. (You’d have to ask Lester Bangs all about that but he’s dead and not in your hall as a “non-performer” either. Something else you may want to look into.) The first 2 records were attributed to just The Stooges and the 3rd, with a few different members and the help of David Bowie, (he’s a member, right?) was under the name Iggy & The Stooges. These albums have gone on to be regarded as some of the most influential albums in the underground/avant-garde/punk rock/indie whatever it is going on today. If you don’t believe me you can check the list of Rolling Stone’s Greatest 500 Albums Ever. I’m pretty sure all 3 are in there. Ask Mr. Wenner, he’s on your board, right? Hell, you probably have that very issue framed in the lobby of your museum. So enough on why they’re important. If you need to know more go ask Jack White.

So why you ask, do I say they were important up until March 6th of 2007? Well, you see, that’s when they began to tarnish their reputation by re-re-forming and putting out an album of, get this, new material, after about 25 years or so. As you can expect, it’s pretty dismal. Everything seemed to be in place. I mean, they had Steve Albini recording it and that was a good start. Maybe he could give those drums the punch they really need and make those guitars really shred. (Not shred in the Eddie Van Halen way of course.) And then on bass they asked Mike Watt to fill in for their late bassist Dave Alexander. (He died of pneumonia, not drugs or a plane crash. Maybe that’s what disqualifies them for inclusion. Perhaps he should have fallen out of a fuckin’ palm tree like Keith Richards. That’s pretty rock n’ roll, huh?) So you got Steve Albini, Mike Watt, and Iggy fuckin’ Pop with the original Asheton brothers. Pretty sweet, huh? No, not at all I’m afraid.

The Weirdness, that’s what it’s called, (the album I mean. Although it could describe the entire experience of listening to the album) starts off kinda good. It has a nice Stooges opening, the drums are at their most Albini’d and Iggy blurts out some sorta noise like “ugh” or “whoo” or something. But then he starts to sing. And what come out of his mouth is just bad, bad, bad. Something about his dick. Which is pretty Iggy of him but somehow very juvenile. But whatever, it’s just the first song. The album then proceeds to venture off into boring rock territory that you can hear anywhere today. The riffs are tepid and the bass blindly follows along. Which is a real shame when it’s Mike Watt, one of the greatest bassists around, ever. (Remember the name The Minutemen. They should appear on some ballots in a few years.) But it’s a waste of his talents when it seems as though he wasn’t allowed to write any of his material. Nor is he even pictured in the liner notes. What gives??

Then there’s the singing. And I mean singing. See, Mr. Pop never really sang, per se, he just kind of howled and grunted. But on songs such as “ATM” and “Free and Freaky” he actually tries to sing. And he’s never sounded older. The title track is lifted directly from the Bowie albums he did in the 70’s which always made him sound like a heavily processed Bowie impersonator. The melodies? Well, on several more songs they sound more like, well, you know that skit on Who’s Line Is It Anyway where they come up with songs off the top of their heads and it’s always the same melody & rhyme scheme? Yeah, The Weirdness has plenty of that going on. And Iggy ain’t no Wayne Brady.

If you need proof of the Stooges influence these days, turn on the radio. Any self professed punk band has ripped off the Stooges riffs and tries to strut around like the pros. And this is why The Weirdness fails. Because it sounds like 4th generation Stooges impersonators. What led to this whole reunion was after Sum 41 (no need to remember that name, ) left the studio on Iggy’s last album, he calls up the Asheton brothers to come in and do a few tracks. Then voila! A reunion is born. But when Sum 41 left, whatever mojo they left behind, the Ashetons picked up. Where they were once new and innovative, they have now tried to come up to speed and fail. Songs about ATM’s and rhyming Obama, Madonna, and baby momma could tarnish their legacy. On the back of the CD there’s even a link for official Stooges ringtones. What the hell is that about?? And their only website is a frickin’ Myspace page?? But I digress. There are a few decent, and I use that word liberally, songs. “My Idea Of Fun” isn’t bad, and could be a radio hit, if not for the chorus of “My idea of fun/is killing everyone.”

So what I’d like you to do, kind committee, is to disregard this album, the rest of the public will. Do not use this in anyway to base your inclusion of the Stooges into your hall of fame. I mean, if a reunion is enough to boot someone out, well I’d start right away with the Police. Did you see that debacle at the Grammy’s?? It’s not often a band can make great albums their whole career and so it took the Stooges 25 years to make theirs. Clearly that can’t be held against them, can it??

Sincerely,

Matthew Smith