The Stooges' Ready to Die
by Christi Griffis
Punk rock is youth and rebellion and old punks don’t die.
Okay, full disclosure, my first taste of anything like Punk was Debbie Harry on The Muppet Show and my first notion of Iggy Pop was his theme for my favorite unjustly forgotten cartoon, Space Goofs. But kid shows are a gateway drug, I wised up quick and like any good rock fan of my generation started living in the past, listening to shit before my time. Perpetual snapshots of cool.
But now? Three of the four original Ramones are gone. Joe Strummer passed on my 19th birthday. A couple years ago I saw Johnny Rotten on Judge Judy so he is, at the very least, dead to me. And now Iggy Pop, Punk rock godfather, tells us he is Ready to Die.
At least Iggy's declaration of mortality comes in the form of a new Stooges album.
Ready to Die is the first album since Raw Power to bear the Iggy and the Stooges distinction and marks the return of James Williamson on guitar. Raw Power-age Stooges it is not. This is not the Iggy of your youth, or probably even my youth, but it also not the Iggy of the Jon Varvatos car commercials.
Don't get it twisted. The dog still bites. Dude still has “got no belief and got no gratitude” and calls out the “dumb cock-jerkers” of the world. Then there is “DD's” a catch ode to huge ta-tas, and “Sex and Money, of which you can probably guess the subject. The band chugs along with no signs of their AARP memberships and you will even catch glimpses of those early albums in songs like “Burn” and “Gun.”
Even more notable are jams like “The Departed” showing a different side of the band. Like Joe Strummer’s “Silver and Gold”, or Johnny Cash's American Recordings albums, it’s a slowed down ode to the past from a once raucous (to put it mildly) hooligan. “The life of the party is gone,” Iggy sings, and we can assume makes references to deceased guitarist Ron Asheton. Joe and Johnny were always a bit more introspective, and this sort of thing is a bit jarring coming from Iggy Pop. And it's good. He's not going to roll around in glass to it, but it's damn good.
Iggy reportedly has told interviewers that he named the album after overhearing a bunch of old-timers in a Waffle House talking about blowing up a government building. There's something to be said for growing old, but refusing to do it gracefully. Probably better than the alternatives.
Christi Griffis is a writer and bonne vivante in Michigan's Great Lakes Bay Region's café society. Her twitter handle is @christig .