NEW IGGY AND THE STOOGES
STILL RAW AND STUPENDOUS
Ten searing observations and bleary reflections from rock’s premiere proto-punk god, backed by the band that launched his career.
He’s also known for exposing himself onstage. Audiences expect it.
More dynamic front man than singer proper, Iggy’s an incredible lyricist—he penned David Bowie’s “China Girl”--whose vocals over the years have only increasingly conveyed that—there’s no other way to say it—raw power. (He’s got an album by that name. A great one.) Raw power, and stripped-down emotion.
He’s originally from Michigan—born James Newell Osterberg, Jr.-- and has said that the hammering sounds of car-making machinery made him fall in love with the crash and thunder of rock n’ roll.
The cover of the album conveys the sonic ethos: Iggy in his classic stance, that contorted hip stance conveying outspoken defiance, looking leathery as salmon jerky, bare-chested in a bomb vest with giant cross-hairs right on him.
We hear in his gravelly voice as he looks back on his youth “breaking up inside” the “Unfriendly World” the speaker has found, and the impression is of bare honesty. I think “Unfriendly World” is one of the best songs on the album, even though most of the rest are much faster.
With “Job,” Iggy sums up the average worker’s experience today and hits the nail dead-on with the lines: “I got a job / I got a job / I got a job / And it don’t pay shit.” Another hard-rocking crowd-pleaser, “Gun,” presents a similarly brutal observation: “Murderers can stand their ground / Ain’t nobody else around / Freakin’-out in the USA.”
And that’s another reason to listen to these guys: they’ve got a sense of humor. It speaks very much toward character, I strongly feel, that a band be willing to call themselves Iggy and The Stooges.
That said, the title song, “Ready to Die,” fiercely upbeat and one of the hardest-hitting on the album, seems to me a real statement from an artist. Here’s a guy part of a generation and a time unique in history. At the beginning of Iggy’s career he was totally different, out there on the edge, telling the man to screw off and showing the hip young people how a rock star lives. And now here he is, still doing the same thing: “I’m shooting for the sky / Because I’m ready to die.”
The lineup of the band includes the original drummer and co-founder, Scott Asheton. His brother, Ron Asheton, was one of the greatest guitarists in rock. Now the band is working with James Williamson. Mike Watt on bass, and Steve Mackay on sax.
Oh, he’s had his highs and lows as an artist, has Iggy. Not all of his music has the same quality to me. But even in what I consider his off years he’s got at least a song or two that still stands out. (“Lust for Life” always gets me.) Same can be said for just about all of your finer living music legends, I suppose, but in particular I’m thinking of Neil Young. Like Young, who rocks hardest when he’s playing with Crazy Horse, so too Iggy Pop with The Stooges.
Check out their album Fun House. I don’t think Ready to Die is a better album than Fun House. No way. But it’s definitely one of their best.
Skull Ring, which they came out with several years ago, is also quite good.
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of the Iggy and the Stooges classic
"I Wanna Be Your Dog"