The sixth Stooges album, excuse me, second Iggy and the Stooges album, Ready to Die, and first to make me question whether Iggy Pop knows who the Notorious B.I.G. is, comes out today. Ready isn’t on the level of Fun House, but it’s a major improvement over 2007’s The Weirdness in that it actually sounds like it was made by the Stooges, highlighted by guitar riffs that hit like concrete slabs and the primal sexuality of Pop’s howl of a voice. In honor of the record, let’s evaluate why 43 years after the Stooges self-titled debut, Iggy Pop remains relevant.
#1. Raw Power
Remember chillwave? Exactly. It was a fad that came and went without picking up any momentum outside of a two-block radius in Brooklyn, and it’s a godsend that we’ve all forgotten about it. Dozens, hundreds, thousands of musical (sub)genres have made a blip on the radar screen, only to flatline just as quickly, since The Stooges came out in 1969. But two that haven’t are: punk and hard rock. The Stooges are godfathers of both. Like the Velvet Underground, they’re one of the most influential bands of all-time, playing sloppy guitar rock with sexually not-so-ambiguous lyrics long before there was money to be made from that, led by an instantly charismatic frontman. Iggy, and the Stooges as a whole, remain relevant because they weren’t chasing trends; they were creating them.
#2. Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell
You think rock ‘n’ roll, you think Iggy Pop. I mean, look at this guy:
Image plays a larger role than we’d probably like to admit in how we process music, which is why so many Stooges reviews begin with how Pop looks. The word “leathery” comes up quite often. But every visual idea about what we think a male rock star “should look like” — skinny, bandaged, attractive (for the ladies) but not so attractive that men might be put off/feel intimidated by (for the fellas), the “doesn’t give a f*ck, just out of bed” look — that’s Pop.
#3. Gimme Danger
The Stooges live, in 2013, should be awful. Their legacy is cemented, they could coast off the crowd’s nostalgia for the songs, and c’mon, they’re a bunch of old men; most guys their age are bitching about the SPENDOCRATS in Congress who won’t give them more social security. And yet they still put on one of the wildest, sweatiest, most reckless concerts out there, with Iggy Pop darting back and forth on stage like a hungry cheetah in a cage, assuming he’s not throwing his body into the adoring audience below. Even if you don’t like the Stooges, you should see the Stooges. They still give a sh*t about not giving a sh*t when it comes to playing as loudly as possible.
#4. I (Don’t) Need Somebody
Punk rock is littered with artists whose solo careers were sparkling even after they left the band that made them famous. Joe Strummer had the Mescaleros; Johnny Rotten, Public Image Ltd; David Johansen, Buster Poindexter; Dee Dee Ramone, Dee Dee King. OK, maybe not that last one, but the point remains: a punk rocker going solo or starting another band has a much better track record than a “normal” rock star doing the same. See: Iggy Pop’s The Idiot and Lust for Life, two albums arguably better than every Stooges record sans Raw Power. It’s important for artists to prove they’re more than just a cog in a greater machine, and with those two albums (and help from David Bowie), Iggy Pop did exactly that. They’ll be playing “Lust for Life” in cruise commercials long after Pop’s dead.
#5. Fall In Love with Me
Or maybe it’s just because “Iggy Pop” is an amazing name.