The original punk rocker is still loving his primal urges
Iggy Pop’s last two albums (2009’s ‘Préliminaires’ and 2012’s ‘Aprés’) were jazz-based records with lyrics sung in French. Both were passed over by most, because funnily enough some people don’t think jazz albums with lyrics sung in French by the 66-year-old frontman are essential listens. ‘Ready To Die’, Iggy’s first album with The Stooges since 2007’s ‘The Weirdness’, is a different beast, and much more like the balls-on-the-board gutter-rock that made his name. It’s a fat, satisfying slab of Iggy punk-rock steak. Exactly what we ordered.
The most significant thing about the album is the return of guitarist James Williamson following the death of Ron Asheton in 2009. Williamson was responsible for the licks on 1973’s ‘Raw Power’, and on ‘Ready To Die’ he brings a similar dirty vigour. He smothers lead single ‘Burn’ with riffs that sound cranked out by fingernails not cleaned since ’73, and gives the track vein-popping ferocity. The cowbell stomp of ‘Job’, meanwhile, sees Iggy bemoaning having a “job” that “don’t pay shit”. This seems ludicrous in the light of those insurance ads, but Williamson’s guitar still makes it sound thrilling.
Ig, though, is the main focus. Spitting lines about the primal urge of rock’n’roll on ‘Sex And Money’ (“sex and money, sex and money”, he explains) he’s just about beyond self-parody despite the straightforward subject matter. The guy pretty much invented rock’n’roll, after all. On ‘Dirty Deal’ his voice sounds brilliantly husky and parched, somewhere between Marilyn Manson’s malevolent croak and the untethered yelp of the Iggy of yore. It’s impressive that singing about the careless abandon of life seems as natural as ever for him, even as he hurtles towards 70.