Iggy and the Stooges – Ready To Die (2013)

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Still sizzling with unbound fury, Iggy Pop and the Stooges rejoin their white-knuckle search for meaning, though what they find isn’t any prettier 40 years later. Hell, at times, it’s just as terrifying.

Surviving will do that. There’s a concurrent perspective, sure, but there’s also a kind of resentment creeping into Ready to Die, a different kind of danger — less nihilistic, more tinged with righteous old-dude indignation.

“Burn,” the opening track, leaps out with a serrated fury — and that’s just the lyric: “The truth is going to make them squirm,” Pop warbles. (And if that doesn’t, the returning James Williamson’s ear-melting riff will.) “Sex and Money,” a nasty-grooved paean to life’s two governing principles, works in even starker terms: “The truth is a motherfucker.”

And you can bet that the Stooges are about to give it to you. With a side helping of thuggish noise.

Pop typically works here within a note-perfect maelstrom of guitar, as Williamson joins Pop and drummer Scott Asheton in a reunion of the nut-punching 1973 lineup. This re-jiggered amalgam provides a uniformity of attitude, barbed and relentless, that was missing from the Stooges’ 2007 comeback The Weirdness, which instead featured the late Ron Asheton on guitar.

Still, much has changed since the Stooges’ narcotized classic Raw Power sat on record-shop shelves. (For instance, yeah, they had record shops back then.) That’s put Pop in a topical, though not exactly forgiving, state of mind.

“Gun,” for instance, pushes back (and hard) against those who find comfort in the embrace of social media, before Pop settles into a generally infuriated, shit-sure-has-changed mode for “Unfriendly World.” Oh, and the music industry? “Dirty Deal” tells them to fuck off, too. The title track, meanwhile, presents as a skull-dragging blast of snarling aggression, but ultimately turns into another poke in the eye to first-world complainers who misunderstand “what a luxury it is to wear this frown.”

Finally, there’s “Departed,” one more craggly finger wag wherein the Stooges return to the acoustic vibe of “Unfriendly World” — with a dash of “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” Here, Pop takes a knowing look back at the appetites that almost consumed him, offering a concluding moment of truth telling for successive generations who might be lured by its siren song: “This night life,” Pop snarls, “is just a a death trip.”

In this way, Ready to Die (due on April 30, 2013, from Fat Possum) finds a group clearly unready to do any such thing — even if what they’re complaining about sure is different. You have to wonder how much longer it’s going to be before Iggy Pop and the Stooges actually construct a song around telling kids to get off their lawn.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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