Iggy Pop’s catalogue is a strange mess – a couple of very fine albums, plenty of rewards to dig and gather across the records that followed and some filler-fodder too. There hasn’t been the late-great comeback that many other heritage acts have offered. But there hasn’t needed to be. The myth of Iggy is profound in and of itself. And if he needed an extra kick, or thought fans did, he had The Stooges to reform for a lark. Though that’s barely the option these days.
So, to a few interesting – if uneven – collaborations. I didn’t much care for the Post Pop Depression record with Josh Homme but everyone else seemed to love it. I then rather dug the EP with Underworld that I barely saw mentioned elsewhere. So, um, what would I know right?
Well, based on that acknowledgment I am really loving Free – the next, and last (?) album from Iggy. Who knows what Iggy wants to be ‘free’ from – he’s been shirt-free forever. And expectation-free for nearly as long. He’s able to just turn up and drift. To float through things. He’s arguably almost always been free.
And, look, this album is no classic. It’s a hodgepodge of recording sessions, featuring a handful of spoken-word pieces and some rockers that have a jazz-trumpet attached. I just like it because it’s here and there’s a spirit to its finest moments. Take Loves Missing for example. This is better than anything the Pixies have served up over the last decade and even if that’s a low-bar it still gives you an idea of the sonic territory. It is, to me, ten times better than anything off Post Pop Depression.
Sonali too, is very strong. But there are some lyrical clunkers. A song called James Bond exists purely for Ig to purr out lazy couplets around the refrain, “She wants to be your James Bond” – but it’s fun. And it sounds cool. But it doesn’t stand up to any sort of scrutiny.
Far worse is Dirty Sanchez – at least the song’s title is a tip-off I guess. It has lines about Iggy liking big tits but not being into dicks (meaning corporate fucks, nothing homophobic from Mr Pop here). But it is still utterly embarrassing. Not since Joe Walsh’s mid-80s nadir, ILBT’s, have you wanted to shrink up inside yourself to avoid being pinned as a fan of the artist.
Fortunately that mid-album lowlight is over and done with and/or easily skippable – so we get that beaut-voice future-jazz crooning through Glow In The Dark, and it’s almost to Bowie’s Blackstar as a vibe; continuation of that work. They way those two borrowed phrases or put words in each other’s mouths; finished each other’s sentences…
It starts to feel like moments from the Blade Runner soundtrack as Pop sings over Page and speaks across We Are The People, late-night washes of trumpet framing both.
And yes, this brief album trails off with three spoken-word pieces to finish, a cribbing of Dylan Thomas’ Do not go gentle into that good night here, his own apocalyptic The Dawn to finish.
Let me repeat, this album is no classic. It’s 33 minutes of sometimes silly, sometimes compelling oddities. But I love it. And you might too.
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