(out of 5)
It’s all relative I suppose and you don’t need me to tell you that I like the new Stooges album because you can just go on youtube and listen to the whole thing for free. But, hey, I just want to talk about the Stooges even though I very clearly said I wasn’t going to do that in my introduction essay thingy. The Stooges are built into the DNA of my music taste. If you don’t own The Stooges, Funhouse, Raw Power and the two to three albums worth of songs on unofficial releases like Open Up and Bleed, then you and I do not share the same world view and we should probably not run into each other on the street.
The Stooges brief career ended in 1974. Several of Ig’s former band mates played on a few of his solo albums but it was made pretty clear a reunion wasn’t going to happen; especially after the insulting liner notes on the 1997 Raw Power CD reissue. To quote – regarding the Asheton bros. – “those guys couldn’t organize a home aquarium without me.” Ouch! But somehow, in 2002, the Stooges were back! Iggy was joined by Ron Asheton on guitar, Scott Asheton on drums, Minutmen/Firehouse bassist Mike Watt and even Steve McKaye on sax. They did four songs for Iggy’s 2003 album Skull Ring. Then they put out their poorly received “come back” album, The Weirdness in 2007. Then, in 2009, Ron Asheton passed away. Well, who else should take his spot than the guy who did so way back in 1972? So, even though he hadn’t held a guitar in three decades, James Williamson rejoined and here we are, with a new Stooges album. Only now it’s Iggy and the Stooges but, we know what’s up.
It’s good! I don’t think people were expecting to be blown away. But I’m enjoying Ready to Die a lot more than I did The Weirdness (although, to be fair, I might have to just go back and listen to that one since it’s been six years). First of all let’s make one thing clear. Ron Asheton was the man! His forceful, primitive guitar playing is the reason why punk rock exists. But James Williamson is a stronger player. That means a world of difference in 2013. The Weirdness is full of basic, not too interesting garage rock riffs and we need some new tricks to tides us over! I’m not saying this new album is particularly original. All I’m saying is that Williamson just plays better melodies and more creative riffs.
It’s a garagey/punky hard rock album! They aren’t breaking new ground and don’t try to. Instead it’s just rock ‘n’ roll. Um, lessee… I wouldn’t call the album particularly diverse but there a few different things going on here. Williamson plays Stonesy melodies but, just like on Raw Power, his tone and approach are meaner and dirtier than Richards. But this, in no way, has the same anger, fire and vitriol of Raw Power so don’t think it does just because I made a comparison to it. I bitched on facebook about how I want the “I’m a streetwalkin’ cheetah with a heart full of NAPALM!!!” Iggy not this modern, crooning Iggy. But, how can I demand such a thing from a 67 year old man? The album scores on the fact that they know what they’re good at yet don’t make active efforts to copy the past.
Most of these songs are energetic rockers in which Iggy does what Iggy does; he makes no bones about his love for “those double Ds” – which is funny because I always pictured Iggy as an ass man who loves huge amazons but whatever – talks about having a shitty job and being sick of it and a bunch of other hilariously blunt admissions. But the rockin’ tone is broken up with a trio of bittersweet, acoustic numbers – the strongest being album closer “The Departed”, which aside from incorporating the “I Wanna Be Your Dog” riff on acoustic guitar is just a really beautiful song about their dead friend.
Some of the songs also have sax and piano on them so that adds some dimension. I’m sorry if this review isn’t the most in depth thing but I really don’t know what else to say about the album. It has ten songs in 35 minutes. Some of the song names are “Sex & Money”, “Dirty Deal”, “Unfriendly World” and “Gun”, so you know, they try to keep things grounded but not get TOO negative. After all, they’re old and lived long lives and have had plenty of time to be angry at the world. I dunno, whatever, it’s good.