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"burns yo'ass like the map on Bonanza" - THE STOOGES, "The Weirdness", album review, 2007, PlanbMag

The Stooges

The Weirdness


“Rock critics won't like this much” drawls the Ig 30 seconds in and he's gottabekiddin. Critics cream themselves insideout over restaged battles & this biz we call show is now half-run by the fantasy-pop parlour games of daydreaming fanboys. Nowt wrong w'dues & mortgages being paid – s'just you'd sooner take it in with some supper and a free refill when it hits Vegas than actually carry it around with you, let it in. Hey sug, the moment's past. It was fun while it lasted but we've both got to move on.
   3 songs into 'The Weirdness' and you feel a hot-flush, menopausally vexed that this old flame can still get you so horny. It's been so long since you first hooked up to the same powerlines, buzzed on that repetition, cut your arm on those violent angles, saw that truly modern vision of beauty that still burns yo'ass like the map on Bonanza . Openers 'Trollin', 'ATM ' and 'You Can’t Have Friends' remind you that for all the 'seminal/influential' superlatives it's the glimmering primeval joy of Stooges music that absolutely resists facsimile, and that JB-like jolt it gives you can't exist without a whole lot of hope, humour and love – things normally written out of the Stooges aura but that are crucial to 'The Weirdness'' triumph. And jeezlouise, check the sound -these old fucks swing like boulders on bungees, Ron Asheton spontaneously combusting, Mike Watt perfectly poised throughout and Scott Asheton blasting the boxed-in loud-as-fuck space Albini’s opened up for him. Even though at times it seems that what’s being captured here is a first take of something under-rehearsed, it don’t matter when the moments of lockdown are so tight and Ig’s imagination is so freewheeling – The Stooges in ‘07 make you realise that for all the lines of lineage drawn across the rock-historical map, there's precious little being said about what makes a band genuinely unique, and the space they inhabit that's exclusive to them. Once upon a time a mess of ideas from these guys coincided and collided and made a totally new statement about the world – nearly 40 years on and we're all looking remarkably good actually thanks for asking. And in some senses we're free at last.
   Just listen to the soul stomp of 'ATM', the riff you think is Sonic Youth's until you remember where they nicked it from on 'Idea Of Fun'. The title track just might be the bravest thing here – a gorgeous peal of wilting hothouse fragrance from Iggy's croon, clear nods east-to-Berlin and west-to-Hollywood-soundstages from the band, saxman Steve MacKay sounding like Andy Mackay – it's a dream to hear this band finally able to play the songs they want to play, the music they want to make right now. And just when you think that 'Greedy Awful People' and 'She Took My Money' are two badtime rockers too far, along comes a closing suite that strong-arms you into submission – 'The Death Of Christianity''s psyche melody and motorik thump, 'Mexican Guy' letting drone meet the Bo Diddley voodoo it's always yearned for and then 'Passing Cloud' slipping between stratosphere and streetsmarts as quick as the band switch from jazz drift to ten-ton riff. By closer 'I'm Fried' s'all you can do to realise, at last, that the band the Stooges sound most like now is The Stooges, and what a remarkable thing that is to sound like. And of course, atop the mountain, Osterberg is still the one of the smartest, cattiest, most suggestively poetic and murderously accurate lyricists America has left now that JB’s gone – just dig the good-time goosestep of ‘Free & Freaky’’s hysterical march into madness, the way he balances the infantile and ancient in ‘The End Of Christianity’ and ‘Idea Of Fun’, the wonderfully strung-out romance of ‘Passing Cloud’ and ‘The Weirdness’. Throughout it’s a persona that can only be Ig, a deftness of phrase and rhyme that would shame most mainstream rappers right now, and what comes shining through the sleazoid fug of ‘I’m Fried’ is that armed with this band, as this band is armed with HIM, the Stooges are downright fucking unstoppable. And you suspect that every other rock’n’roll record you hear this year is gonna sound a little forced, a little joyless, a whole lot less naturally godlike. Keep this ‘til summer and bomb yourself awake every morning with it. A band not just with a new label & new audience but with a new reason to be in your heart, headphones and home. Get stuck in.
Neil Kulkarni


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