Monday, May 27, 2013


One could hear the jaws drop of those aging punks upon hearing what Iggy Pop said when asked to name his favourite punk songs:  "I hate punk rock."  Iggy, the godfather, the Stooge, turning his back on the genre that counts him as the figurehead.  Imagine still what they'll think when they hear this latest album from the reformed Stooges, one that sees him back with James Williamson, his shambolic co-star of Raw Power and Metallic K.O.  There are sombre ballads, horn stabs, cheap laugh lyrics, 60's basics, Stax flourishes, Iggy in his deep crooner voice, and an acoustic guitar number with lap steel.  Raw Power, it ain't.

So what is Ready To Die?  Well, it's Iggy in his caustic and cynical role, an observer who points out all the crap, and revels in the negative.  For the most part it does rock, but with a lot more polish than the drug-addled early 70's version.  The cut Job has Williamson loud and basic, as Iggy spouts forth about the fate of the worker,  "I got a job but it don't pay shit/I got a job but I'm sick of it."  It's the U.S. version of the similarly-afflicted Bell Boy in Quadrophenia.  More Williamson revved-up guitar announces the start of Gun, about the type of stressed-out American who's one step away from being a domestic terrorist:  "If I had a fuckin' gun/I could shoot at every one."   But this song is Chuck Berry-garage, smartly constructed ("Freakin' out in the U.S.A."), tight and compact, even in its noisiness.  It's not old punk or new, just rock and roll.

Iggy Pop's certainly his own man when it comes to his career path, and obviously to him, there are no rules as to what a Stooges album should sound like.  And if punks don't like hearing the country-styled ballad Unfriendly World, with its pretty acoustic figure, that's their problem.  The title cut will keep them happy though, Williamson getting a chance to solo and the whole song features his rough, loud chords.  As always, Iggy can't be put in a box, and if you're ready to drop the romance about the old Stooges days, this is a vibrant album for the 66-year old, and his old partners.

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