Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I'm A Punkrocker, Yes I Am

Unlike jazz and the blues, rock tends to be relatively unfriendly to its aging statesmen. Depending on whom you ask, the Rolling Stones are both examples of and exceptions to this rule. For my generation though, we are only now getting to the point at which the punk rockers are getting old. We've already lost many of them, but a few are notably carrying on.

For me, the most vivid example of this is the 60-year old Iggy Pop, the Godfather of Punk, who, let's face it, has written some of the most blistering songs in the rock pantheon. In recent years, however, Iggy's output has been somewhat hit or miss but still occasionally worth checking out. I was one of those (maybe one of the few) who was more excited than nervous about the prospect of a reunited Stooges putting out new material, in spite of the overly slick and underwhelming new release from the New Your Dolls last year.

Unlike the Dolls, The Stooges latest release, The Weirdness, certainly doesn't suffer from the sheen of overproduction. The sound remains relatively raw, if not quite as powerful as you might remember. Worst of all (as you've probably read ad nauseum), the lyrics are surprisingly sophomoric, maybe even for The Stooges. I read where Iggy chided new bass player Mike Watt for making a bass line too interesting, because he wanted the new record to sound big and dumb. Simply put, Iggy managed to achieve this goal.

Contrary to the uniformly negative reviews that I've seen (and even my initial reaction), The Weirdness actually isn't a complete turn-off. In spite of the fact that my first listen was probably comparable to that feeling Ohio State fans get when their teams plays Florida in a national championship game (pick a sport) -- i.e., "this isn't going how I'd hoped it would" -- there's still stuff here you can use, like the first single, "My Idea Of Fun," and the title track, the latter of which kind of makes you wish Iggy and Bowie would try to get together again. Overall though, The Weirdness is a bit of a disappointment, but certainly not destructive to the band's "legacy," as most critics would have you believe. It is dumb though. That much is true.

Check out new and old Stooges and tell us if time is kind to the punk rockers. I've also thrown in Iggy's guest spot on Teddybears' new classic "Punkrocker." Oh, and be sure and check out Wolfgang's Concert Vault for a classic 1977 Iggy Pop concert at the Rainbow Theatre, now available for download! Yes!

MP3: The Stooges - "My Idea Of Fun" from The Weirdness
MP3: Iggy & The Stooges - "No Fun" from The Stooges
MP3: Teddybears (feat. Iggy Pop) - "Punkrocker" from The Soft Machine

That would have been a good place to end this post, but to continue the original theme for just a moment, it's worth mentioning briefly another of punk's elder statesmen, Mr. Mark E Smith, of The Fall, who have just released what must be their 312th record Reformation Post T.L.C. (actually, the 26th). I have to admit, I somehow always have a place for the unintelligible, scotch-soaked ramblings of the enigmatic Mr. Smith, and this new Americanized incarnation of the Fall (his previous band apparently abandoned him in the middle of the last tour) suits him well. Nothing on Reformation hits quite so immediately as did songs like "Pacifying Joint" from 2005's Fall Heads Roll, but The Fall are always a mess, bless their hearts, and fans of the band still have plenty of chaos to enjoy on this outing.

MP3: The Fall - "Over! Over!" from Reformation Post T.L.C.
MP3: The Fall - "Fall Sound" from Reformation Post T.L.C.
MP3: The Fall - "Pacifying Joint" from Fall Heads Roll