Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Stooges -- The Weirdness

Our man Bill McGraw points out in The Detroit Almanac, where once stood a big white farm house in which the Stooges lived, screwed and did mountains of drugs on the corner of Eisenhower and Packard in Ann Arbor, MI, there now sits a bank.

A LaSalle, I believe.

Now if you’re 15 and all angsted up, you might read all sorts of depressing insights into this: The I am Gene Hackman and this is Bonnie and Clyde, we'd like LaSalle to GFY!commoditization of art, the temporariness of rebellion, the Man holding us down with his jackboot zoning laws.

But it’s just a bank. They hold on to your money and let you buy a house when you promise to pay them back. What the hell can you really have against a bank?

Iggy Pop doesn’t hate banks either. Sure they tore down his old pad, but he’s hardly the sentimental type. And he’s perfectly coolio with raking in (much-deserved) cash helping cruise lines hit that key junkie, male prostitute demographic. You assume a smart guy like Igg would be down with diversifying all his funds and shit.

For every Curly, there is a Schemp or some yin yang bullshitYet on the Stooges comeback, The Weirdness, Mr. Osterberg, out of seemingly misplaced obligation, lashes out at modern finical convenience with a track called “ATM.”

Laying into automated teller machines is idiotic. Despite all his efforts over the years, we know Iggy Pop is not an idiot. Still he’s compelled to keep pretending here, hoping to recapture a bit of the glorious gold-sparkled stupidity of his less gnarled youth.

On Weirdness Iggy hits a whole series of “compulsory” topics. Druggy sex song? "Trollin"; War song? “My Idea of Fun”; Fuck American society at large song? "Free and Freaky"; Condemning greedy awful people song? uh “Greedy Awful People”: Each with dumber lyrics and more “your-dad-made-a-punk-album” guitar than the last.

Albini makes his happy faceIggy’s straining in some places and listless in others—more than anything he not having fun, not in control. I know Steve Albini’s MO is keeping everything stripped down and this is the Stooges, but please, please let the Ig-uana take another pass at “My Idea of Fun”. What’s worse is Pop, whose psychotic brilliance raised a less than average garage band to frenetic genius so long ago, now drags everybody else down.

If you get mutherfucking Mike Watt to be in your band and don’t let him go crazy on the thud staff, maybe you are the ’tard you want us think you are. Only Ron Asheton, still bitter about being demoted to bassist near the end of the group’s original run, makes any effort to prove himself. His spitfire little licks try to fill any dead air—a noble, if ultimately grating gesture.

Let’s be clear, it’s categorically unfair to waste any serious effort comparing a reunion album to the old stuff. It’s obnoxious to chalk up the record’s flatness to a lack of drugs as well. If you saw the boys live recently, you might feel disappointed, but if you picked up “Skull Ring,” no doubt you’ve braced yourself in advance.

Still two things are worth pointing out:

Diddley BuzzUno—By most accounts, the Stooges were universally reviled during their heyday, even in Detroit. [Of course they were never from Detroit, they were from Ann Arbor, 50 miles west. Of course they grew up outside A2 in Ypsilanti (the outskirts of Ypsi no less). That’s the outside of the outside of the outside…that’s how you get to be the kings of alienation.] Now we’ve been listening to people ripping off the Stooges for 30 years and it is not completely infeasible that we’re just too cynical to recognize the real deal anymore. Your grandkids might love The Weirdness and curse your bones for dismissing it.

Dos—“Mexican Guy.” Not just a decent Stooges song, one of the better things Iggy has done in years. Unlike the rest of the record, it doesn’t try to go anywhere near “Search and Destroy” or punk. It’s got a weird Bo-Diddley beat that Iggy squats right in the middle of and owns like only Iggy Pop can. It’s funny and menacing all at once and instantly reminds us this is where the Ramones started—not the other way around. It’s a song you can’t write when you’re 20—not until life has kicked the shit out of you on a global scale—and I’d kill to here nine more just like it.

Rating: 2/5

-Dmitri jr.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

On second thought I'd kill to see a road movie staring Bo and Shem.

4:26 PM  
Blogger Gorilla said...

I'd pay to see that, although I think Bo Diddley has a reputation as a grumpy old man who has reworked his classics into more standardized classic rock versions.

So, if you were to go see Bo Diddley, you would not in fact hear the Bod Diddley beat.


4:34 PM  
Blogger Gorilla said...

We talk to each other in real life this way too in case anyone was doing a sociology term paper.

Fewer typos, howevs.

4:36 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

FUCK—i'm an idiot. "1969" also has a Bo Diddley beat so ignore most of my last paragraph.

Maybe we could get Bo Derrick.



10:27 AM  
Anonymous Andy Samberg said...

The latest Weezer album is better than Bo Diddley.

5:36 PM  

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