Rhythm & Views

The Stooges

It's usually a bad idea when mythic rock bands reunite. Case in point: Post-peak efforts by Television and Jane's Addiction. Iggy Pop, however, says joining up again with Ron and Scott Asheton isn't about money. So what's the reason? To prove something 34 years after the Stooges' garage-punk-metal masterpiece Raw Power forever changed rock 'n' roll? With Motörhead at least, one senses Lemmy soldiers on to keep shopping for that perfect pair of aviator shades.

Whatever Pop's reasons, The Weirdness, recorded by minimalist alt-rock guru Steve Albini (Nirvana et al), boasts some full-bore dragsters mocking the brainless, ballless bluster of Dubya's New Amerika. Ron Asheton pounds out riffage deadlier than anything you'll hear from kids 50 years his junior. There's the bluesy missile of "ATM" (with Pop announcing, "My, what a rich dude I am!"), followed by the chopping-block violence of "Idea of Fun" (with Pop confirming: "Now is the season / For war with no reason"). But it's "Free and Freaky" that summarizes our American idiocy: "My sister went to war / She put a guy on a leash / I think about it sometimes / When I'm sitting on the beach."

Great as these are, it's not enough, even with bassist Mike Watt and sax player Steve Mackay doing their best to fire up the senior Stooges. Indeed, songs like "Trollin'" and "Mexican Guy" should've been saved for a later project. Still, The Weirdness is strangely compelling in its sincerity, with Albini capturing the band's abundant warts. Blemishes aside, no one has more passion--or better abs--than the 60-year-old Pop.