Reviews Iggy & The Stooges Ready To Die

Iggy & The Stooges

Ready To Die

The death of Ron Asheton in 2009 was a sad day in music. Considered by this critic and many others to be one of the best guitarists of all time, with his work on the first 2 Stooges album becoming the stuff of legend over the years. Having rejoined with Iggy and the Stooges a few years prior and appearing on 2007's The Weirdness seemed to signal the dawn of a new era for Asheton and crew. His work on The Weirdness was not his best, but his signature sound backed by Iggy's signature howls were a welcome racket, indeed. 

There has always been speculation on what Raw Power would have sounded like, had Asheton been playing guitars instead of being demoted, in a fashion, to bass guitars for the legendary album. Guitar duty had then been assigned to newcomer James Williamson, whose brilliant work on the album set the standard, poured the mold and became the prototype for virtually any punk albums that followed. Williamson's frantic, in-your-face riffs were the antithesis to Asheton's controlled-but-just-as-dangerous chaos. So when the time came for Pop to find a new guitarist after the death of Asheton, he needed to make only one phone call and bingo-bango-bongo, Williamson was back in the fold.

Which brings us to present day, with Iggy and the Stooges' latest release Ready To Die, Iggy's strongest effort in many years. Kicking off with lead single "Burn", we're transplanted back to the golden era of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Williamson sounds huge here, seeming to give Iggy a swift kick in the arse "Berlin-style". This is one of the tracks of the year. 

"Sex and Money" and "Job" follow in rapid succession - the latter bringing to mind a modern day "Shake Appeal" sans hand claps. This is the type of album that makes the listener ashamed they didn't pick it up on vinyl. With that said, side one ends with "Unfriendly World", a misfire of a ballad that sounds like it would have been more at home on Préliminaires, Pop's 2009, shall we say, experiment that left this listener confused and more than a little irritated. I'm not a Pop purist by any means. I have nothing against an artist reaching outside their comfort zone. 1999's oft-maligned Avenue B is one of my favorite Pop albums, but Préliminaires and it's counterpart Après just weren't suited to Pop's vocal sensibilities. Think the Lou Reed/Metallica collaboration en français.

Side Two opens with title track "Ready To Die", a discordant stomper that's sure to be stuck in your head for days. "DD's" is up next, a silly little number that walks that oh-so-fine-line of embarrassment between a man earning the right to sing about whatever the hell he wants and a 65-year-old man singing about tits. Look, I'm not saying this album is perfect, but it's refreshing to hear Iggy sounding more energized and enthusiastic than he has in 20 years. And with Williamson at his side stage left providing that Vitamin B shot like he did back in 1973, we'll get a few more decades out of him yet.

7.9 / 10Kevin Fitzpatrick
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