Iggy Pop and James Williamson on a record again was one of the ultimate rock’n’roll dreams. The Stooges ever playing again was another one. Then dreams came true. The fourth Stooges studio album, “The Weirdness” was recorded and released 34 years after its killer predecessor “Raw Power” and features founding members Iggy Pop (vocals), Ron Asheton (guitar), and Scott Asheton (drums) along with new band member Mike Watt (bass guitar), but also guest musician Steve Mackay (saxophone), who also appeared on the Stooges’ 1970 album, “Fun House”. And the album was engineered by Steve Albini.
Unfortunately, Ron Asheton was found dead in his home on January 6, 2009 and any further The Stooges performance became – once again – improbable. Iggy released a smooth incursion into a jazzy world with his 2009 effort “Préliminaires”, then last year released a covers album entitled “Après”, which featured renditions of songs by Serge Gainsbourg, Henri Salvador, Harry Nilsson, Georges Brassens, Edith Piaf, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles and Yoko Ono.
But Iggy Pop stated that “although ‘the Stooges’ died with Ron Asheton, there is still ‘Iggy and the Stooges’ and somehow managed to convince James Williamson to return as guitarist. Williamson, who was responsible for the seminal guitar sound on 1973’s “Raw Power”, gave up the guitar and worked as an electrical engineer before becoming Vice President of Technology Standards at Sony.
“Ready To Die” will hit the stores on 30th April and it was introduced by “Burn”, a thundering, riff oriented, wild true-blood punk anthem promising the return to the sound of their 1973’s seminal “Raw Power” album. Well, the album it’s solid, balanced, but not raw and less powerful then their 70’s work. And let’s face it, Iggy is 66, Williamson 63, the napalm from their heart it’s not the same. On the other hand, can’t compare “Ready to Die” to any of the nowadays (pop) punk tagged jokes because Iggy and Williamson still kick the s*it out of them.
Considering the latest terror acts in Boston, “Ready to Die” and it’s cover with Iggy wearing dynamite-belt ready to blow up himself, it’s not so funny, but still, Iggy’s humor seems intact: “I Got A Job But It Don’t Pay Shit”, while Williamson’s guitars are still loud and raw enough to scare the Justin Timberlake and Green Day fans away.
But the album contains some softer moments too, two genuine ballads, “Unfriendly World” and “The Departed”, and the less soft, but half-between, still pounding “Beat That Guy”. Surprisingly I love both ballads, they are simple, nice and… dark. “The Departed” is a tribute to Ron Asheton. Maybe not quite fitting into the genuine Stooges world, but both are typically Iggy.
01 – Burn
02 – Sex and Money
03 – Job
04 – Gun
05 – Unfriendly World
06 – Ready to Die
07 – DD’s
08 – Dirty Deal
09 – Beat That Guy
10 – The Departed
11 – Dying Breed
Can listen almost the entire album at npr.org
I have some doubts. Here and there I definitively heard the voice of Axl Rose (“Sex and Money”, “Job”, “Ready to Die”), but I did not find on the internet any mention of his contribution. Well, I swear I hear ghosts then!!
I must also mention the serious contribution of saxophonist Steve Mackay, he delivers some great moments. Scott Asheton is the drummer since 1973’s classic “Raw Power”, while Mike Watt fills in for the late Ron Asheton on bass.
The album was produced by guitarist Williamson at Fantasy Studios in San Francisco, while Iggy Pop recorded his vocals in Miami.
This is more a Stooge album then it was “The Weirdness” and I like it much more. Have more nerve, more guts, sounding rawer.
Buy it or steal it!