Iggy Pop is 'Ready To Die' on latest album

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Of all the rock and punk dinosaurs still prowling the festival circuit these days, Iggy Pop was always going to have the best chance of staying relevant. With the possible exceptions of Neil Young and David Bowie, no one has managed to reinvent their brand as effectively and charmingly as Pop. He’s just as likely to get love for an early Stooges album as for his scene in Jim Jarmusch’s “Coffee and Cigarettes.”

Just one listen to Ready To Die tracks like “Job” and “Ready To Die” will confirm that Pop can still be a king of punk when he wants to be. “Ready To Die” sounds like it was lifted straight from 1973’s Raw Power, both in terms of the legendary James Williamson’s spastic guitar and just how young Pop can still sound at 66 years old. Down to the vintage-Stooge lyrics “I got a depression and it won’t let go,” the title track is possibly the most vital addition to Pop’s catalogue, since the ’80s.

It’s important to mention Williamson, as Ready To Die is credited to Iggy & The Stooges, not The Stooges or Iggy Pop. A big promise of Ready To Die was to revisit Raw Power’s guitar epics like “Search And Destroy” and “Gimme Danger,” and Williamson more than delivers.

On tunes like “Dirty Deal” and “Gun” that find Pop milking the same terrible Bowie impression he made famous on his song “The Passenger,” Williamson makes it all better by letting loose a barrage across his six strings.

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Tragically, even Williamson and Asheton can’t rectify the brassy sleaze of “Sex And Money” or “DD’s,” both tracks utterly dominated by Pop’s goofy lyrics and creepy-uncle style delivery.

In a way, Ready To Die comes across as something of a vocal retrospective for Pop, his deliveries veering from the Stooge-era shouting of “Ready To Die” to the ’70s Bowie-croon of opener “Burn,” with little regard for sequencing. This makes album highlight “Unfriendly World” all the more surprising, as it features Pop singing like a dying Johnny Cash over a slide guitar part that sounds like something from Led Zeppelin’s acoustic album.

Ready To Die closes with the somber “The Departed,” which finds Pop singing, “At the end of the game we all get thrown under the bus.” It’s an enlightening moment that allows Iggy Pop the chance to, for once in his life, act his age and speak his wisdom.


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