Sunday, May 5, 2013

Record Review: Ready To Die--Iggy Pop and the Stooges (2013)

Track List

1. Burn (Iggy/James Williamson) 3:37
2. Sex & Money (Iggy/James Williamson) 3:18
3. Job (Iggy/James Williamson) 3:05
4. Gun (Iggy/James Williamson) 3:07
5. Unfriendly World (Iggy/James Williamson) 3:46
6. Ready To Die (Iggy/James Williamson) 3:06
7. DD's (Iggy/James Williamson) 3:21
8. Dirty Deal (Iggy/James Williamson) 3:42
9. Beat That Guy (Iggy/James Williamson) 3:15
10. The Departed (Scott Asheton/Iggy/James Williamson) 4:36

     It was odd in a way, but very poetic that after the death of Ron Asheton in 2009 that James Williamson became his replacement. Back in 1972, Dave Alexander was edged out of the band, Asheton moved from guitar to bass, and Williamson came in at lead. This group along with Ron's brother Scott on drums recorded the classic, "Raw Power" then broke up, with Iggy taking a couple of years away to kick his heroin habit, and Williamson beginning a path that would eventually lead him to become Vice President of Technology Standards for Sony.
     When The Stooges reformed for a handful of dates in 2003, hope were high for something more after some great reviews and a recorded document of the tour. "Telluric Chaos" had Iggy and the Asheton brothers along with bassist Mike Watt full of energy and sound, with all fans excited after hearing the live document. After that build up, the CD that resulted, 2007's, "The Weirdness", came across as unsatisfying.
     With Ron's death in 2009, Iggy turned to the guitarist who bailed him out last time. Williamson was a bit wary at first. After all, he had not hardly touched a guitar in 30 years, but Iggy convinced him and James took an early retirement from Sony. At first he began playing some concert dates in 2010, then the next year they began the steps that would produce, "Ready to Die".
     One thing that one has to consider first of all is that Iggy is now 65. This doesn't mean he has lost is ability to make a great record, but if your looking for a redo of "Raw Power", this isn't it. There was a passion and anger that came out of every pore of that disc, and it's easy to see listening to that or Fun House, why many consider The Stooges one of the Godfathers of American punk.
     Having said that, it was great to hear Williamson's guitar roaring out of the gate with, "Burn" and shows the guitarist has had no problem picking up where he left off when leaving the band so many years ago. My favorites on this CD consist of :

Sex & Money--Has always been a sucker for the songs where the norm is varied, and while lust is a normal theme, the short insert of the girl chorus and sax gets me every time.

Gun--There has been some discussion about this song. For me it comes across as a parody of our gun obsessed culture in the early 21st century. It would be a funny song if it were not so sad, which is what I think is intended.

Unfriendly World: Slow songs are not their forte, but this one works for some crazy reason. If Leonard Cohan was a punk rocker, I could see him doing something like this.

For those who are fans of the group, "The Departed" will be of interest since it's the only one written by Iggy, Williamson, and Scott Asheton. From what I understand it was the first song written (although the last song on the album) and it deals with the loss of Ron. Also there is "DD's", which is Iggy's ode to well...DD's. 40 years ago this would have would have been great from your normal male leering/rocker perspective. Maybe I'm just getting conservative in my old age as well, but it coming from a 65 year old it sounds slightly on the creepy side.

All in all, if you are a fan of The Stooges and were disappointed with, "The Weirdness", you will find this a much more satisfying recording. There are no suggestions about the future of the group, although Scott was not able to tour a great deal lately because of health issues.  If this is to be the last document of The Stooges, it is a satisfying, if not groundbreaking way to go out.



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