Iggy & the Stooges

Ready to Die (Fat Possum)

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Iggy & the Stooges

Ready to Die (Fat Possum)

This has to be the most severely misnamed album in history. After the misstep of 2007's The Weirdness, the 33-years-overdue fourth Stooges LP, Ready to Die, arrives definitely as the work of a band too alive for its curtain call. All it took was the return of Raw Power guitarist James Williamson, a production and songwriting genius in his own right, for punk rock's parents to find their studio footing for the first time since Iggy Pop reconvened the Detroit thugs who forged his legend. Ready to Die finds the quintet on Fat Possum, making them indie artists for the first time, and they give their new label the best produced, loudest, and slickest – without sacrificing any primal grit and drive – Stooges disc yet. Williamson lays atop the monstrous grooves of bassist Mike Watt and founding drummer Scott Asheton some of the most violent rock & roll riffs heard since ... well, Raw Power. He also brings a musicality unusual for the band: gentle acoustic pluckings ("Unfriendly World" and gorgeous Ron Asheton elegy "The Departed"), plus slide and lap steel guitar, and free jazz sax from Steve MacKay, now a fully integrated Stooge. Meanwhile, Pop contributes some of his most engaged lyrics. The single, "Burn," ignites an instant classic, and as with most of the tracks – "Sex and Money," "Gun," "Job" ("I've got a job and it don't pay shit") – he casts a jaundiced, journalistic eye on the American landscape and doesn't like what he sees. That's good. That's what Stooges songs are supposed to do. Middle fingers up!

****

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