Iggy Pop - Skull Ring

Music Reviews Iggy Pop
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Iggy Pop - Skull Ring

I’ll never forget the first time I laid eyes on the Stooges. They were playing in a long-forgotten Manhattan shithole known as Ungano’s, and Iggy, his booty barely swathed in radically cutoff jeans and nothing else, was literally crawling over the seated audience, screaming into their faces as he rubbed his sweat-, beer- and blood-soaked torso against them. Behind him, the Stooges blazed away in an undifferentiated, eardrum-piercing squall. I prayed he wouldn’t climb into my row, and I knew I wasn’t alone. The Stooges’ performance that night in 1970 was the primal embodiment of confrontation and danger; it sounded like the soundtrack to the apocalypse.

In the three decades since the Stooges broke up, Iggy has conducted a career of digressions, scattering glimpses of his past greatness here-and-there amidst what’s now become a massive scrap heap of ephemera. During the last few years, of course, Iggy/Stooges veneration has reached ridiculous levels as the neo-garage movement and the Motor City renaissance conspired to bring back the Aesthetic of Noise. Clearly, this was not the moment for Iggy to go into the studio with Linda Perry or the Matrix, and the feral old-timer, who’s no dummy, knew it.

Building an album—one he’s consciously conceived as a return to his roots—around four tracks cut with fellow Stooges founders Ron (guitar/bass) and Scott (drums) Asheton, Iggy lets loose with an unrelieved, hour-long torrent of sheet-metal punk rock. It’s obvious within the first few moments of opener “Little Electric Chair,”—when he lets loose with the first “WHOOO!”— that the Iggster’s still unequaled in the unholy realm of barely controlled aggression. Through the course of the record, he’s also capably backed on such gloriously nasty tunes as “Perverts in the Sun,” “Blood on My Cool” and “Whatever” by his longtime sidemen, who’ve dubbed themselves the Trolls. Green Day and Sum 41 also appear (on the single “Little Know It All”), and neither has ever sounded one tenth this rabid. Throw in some sleaze with Lil’ Kim (“Motor Inn”) and a destroyed-sounding solo acoustic ballad (“Till Wrong Feels Right”), and you’ve got yourself one steamin’ slab of unreconstituted, crankshaft sludge. To say the record RAWKS would be redundant, wouldn’t it?