Saturday, August 10, 2013

Iggy & The Stooges-Ready To Die

Fat Possum Records

Given the mixed response that followed 2007's "The Weirdness" (the last studio album by The Stooges) there wasn't exactly a lot of excitement on my part when this album crossed my path. Still, my curiosity got the better of me and, seeing as it was The Stooges after all, it wouldn't be right to just write "Ready To Die" off without giving it a fair listen. I'll say that I'm glad I did take the time as there is a lot of good stuff to be found here on the group's fifth album. The album opens strong with the punk metal track "Burn", which highlights the guitar playing of  James Williamson (James returned to The Stooges following the unfortunate death of guitarist Ron Asheton), and holds steady all the way up until track number five, "Unfriendly World". That's not to say that "Unfriendly World" is a toss away cut or anything. It just comes along and, as it's more laid-back then the previous numbers (which, thanks to the skill of Williamson, really remind the listener of the high energy that came packed along with the group's 1973 "Raw Power" LP) quickly kills the momentum of the album. Still, it's a fair enough track in it's own right and, other then the album's closing number, "The Departed (which is directed at those who have fallen including the late Ron Asheton), it's the album's only ballad-like number. Both of these numbers are open and honest which is certainly something that has always rang true about both The Stooges and Iggy Pop himself. And speaking of honesty, and Iggy's "calling them like he sees them" approach, "DD's" is sure to be one of those cuts that will give the politically-correct crowd something to get all worked up about. It should be fairly easy to understand where the song sits, lyric-wise, so there's no sense in knocking Iggy for his (understandably) appreciation of said objects. Anyway, "Ready To Die" also features drummer Scott Asheton (one of the group's founding members), legendary bassist Mike Watt (The Minutemen and so much more!) and the sax of Steve Mackay. If I'm incorrect then someone please say so, but I do believe that, in addition to laying down some fabulous leads on this album, guitarist James Williamson produced "Ready To Die". The album's overall feeling is natural with the only complaint on my part being that the excellent saxophone playing of guest musician Steve Mackay (who was featured on "The Weirdness" as well as on the Stooges' 1970 album, "Fun House") is too often buried in the mix. Other then that minor complaint "Ready To Die" is a solid album with a really good title-track and more good numbers then fluff. While it both sounds like a proper Stooges' album and then again doesn't (the two ballad-like numbers throw things off a bit) it's still a good album that shows that there is still some serious spunk in these older rockers. Pound for pound it's also way better then the huge bulk of bands that the Stooges would eventually inspire (or at least some of the "music" these bands seem to be bombarding us with these days!) and a reminder that there still is good music to be found out there if you just open up your eyes and give it a chance.

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