Iggy & the Stooges – Ready to Die

In the late ’60s and early ’70s, The Stooges went where no band had gone before (or since, for that matter), delivering three albums that would singlehandedly lay the groundwork for what would later become punk rock and heavy metal. The Stooges, Fun House and Raw Power are the unholy triumvirate of albums – three protozoan slabs of essential psychedelic, bad vibes hard-on rock, possibly the greatest rock ’n’ roll records ever made.

Still, creating such masterpieces is a heavy burden. Iggy Pop and James Williamson surely knew good and well that they weren’t gonna make anything that could touch the godhead status of Raw Power when they made Ready to Die. But who the fuck cares?

At 66 years old, Iggy is still destroying stages all over the land and is still sporting a woody, a towering, misguided missile that is matched only by his bravado and sheer force of will. If you haven’t heard, he’ll gladly tell you all about it with a smirk. The only things looming larger in the world of Iggy Pop than his dick are his ego and his wallet.

Of course, Iggy won’t be adding too much to the till with proceeds from the new disc. Pop and Williamson (aided and abetted by drummer Scott Asheton and Mike Watt on bass) made this album just because they wanted to. Far superior to its predecessor, the ill-advised but still good for a laugh The Weirdness, Ready to Die is a remarkably sturdy, fun and rocking collection.

Most of the album consists of straightforward rockers like “Gun,” “Dirty Deal” and “DDs” (a dumb song about tits which is actually pretty funny) that do in fact approximate Raw Power – in sound, if not in terms of intensity. Thankfully, though, Pop isn’t exactly trying to replicate the past. The best tracks are actually the ballads, “Unfriendly World” and “The Departed,” a paean to Ron Asheton. In these quieter, songs Pop musters up a convincing bit of tenderness and, yes, vulnerability, showcasing a voice that has become more powerful with age in a way much like Johnny Cash did on his American Recordings.

Sure, Ready to Die will serve as a bookend for staunch Iggy Pop fans – something of an addendum. But the album is in no way embarrassing. Iggy & The Stooges are still among the best live bands on the planet, and Iggy won’t be losing any sleep when the album doesn’t go platinum. He’s already rich. He’s fucking Iggy Pop, and you’re not.

Iggy & The Stooges
Ready to Die
[Fat Possum]