Ready To Die
The big-sell here is that James Williamson is back and it’s billed now as Iggy & The Stooges once again. Williamson brings an interesting back-story, last appearing on a Stooges record 40 years ago with the seminal Raw Power, and all but walking away from rock’n’roll to make a million elsewhere then return so late in the game. He also makes some great guitar noise on Job and the supercharged Stones-of-the-seventies sounding Gun. So it’s a welcome return.
Iggy works hard of course – particularly on stage. He’ll always deliver. And the cult around him continues to grow. He’s famous – these days – for just being Iggy Pop. A survivor. A comedian. Some clown-prince of shirts-off rock’n’roll. And on record he’s sounded fairly committed at least for the last 20 years (since his solo album American Caesar) – with some strange sidesteps and deviations, not entirely unwelcome, every now and then.
But he has nothing to say. And no great way to say it. And the world certainly doesn’t need any new Stooges songs.
So Ready To Die goes from a wryly-titled collection to no irony whatsoever rather swiftly.
Also, the song DD’s is something Joe Walsh would probably baulk at recording; that should tell you how lazy, sexist and generic it is. The Stooges might even have grown embarrassed while recording it – it ends so abruptly. As if no one wanted to own it. And no one should own up to it.
After the very quick blast through the first four songs Iggy goes all ballad, all soft; his voice is fine of course but the material really is naff. And he’s a man who knows naff. Go back through that solo catalogue and hear French jazz influences and acoustic spoken-word naiveties.
Acoustic Stooges, also served up with no irony, starts to feel like the band is running out of steam in the studio; you imagine the album being made in real time, laid out in this order as the clock ticks, Iggy and Williamson and the remaining Asheton and super-sub bassist Mike Watt and Fun House’s sax-honker Steve McKay all keen to grab a beer – and a breather – within the hour.
They’ve ended up just scraping over the line in just over half an hour.
They haven’t totally embarrassed themselves – but you’d have to wonder why they really bothered. Anyone seeing Iggy and The Stooges wants the stuff from the first three albums – and that’s what (mostly) they’ll get. The new numbers attempt oily riffs, trying their best to have that whiff of garage about them – but it’s a spit-polished absurdity really. Something you’ll never listen to after a month of doing your best to convince yourself they’ve done well for a bunch of old boys.
They have – kinda – done well for a bunch of old boys. But they did it way better way back. And you don’t need this as a souvenir of the live show you did or didn’t see. You need those three Stooges albums from the late 60s/early 70s. You don’t need this or the one released a couple of years ago. And that’s the truth of it.