Release Date: Jun 2, 2009
Record label: Astralwerks
Genre(s): Rock, Jazz, Blues
"Ijust got sick of listening to idiot thugs with guitars," Iggy Pop said recently, perhaps obliquely referencing last year's vapid Stooges reunion album, The Weirdness. Either way, this is a major volte face. Out go guitars (mostly). In come wistful saxophones, old New Orleans jazz and music made to waft through a fog of Gitanes smoke in some forgotten European bar.
“You can convince the world/ That you’re some kind of superstar/ When an asshole is what you are/ But it’s all right.” ~Iggy Pop, “I Want to Go to the Beach” It is lyrics like that that reassured me right away that all was still well. As word first surfaced about this project, I was nervous. Iggy Pop doing a record of jazzy ballads? Such an outing would be akin to the Sex Pistols playing at casinos or something.
The timing of Iggy Pop's album Preliminaires is probably a product of coincidence and fate rather than careful planning, but it's hard to ignore the fact that just a few months after the unexpected death of Ron Asheton put the Stooges into limbo (at least for a while), Iggy has released an album that almost entirely avoids the issue of rock & roll. In a publicity piece for Preliminaires, Iggy wrote "I just got sick of listening to idiot thugs with guitars," and the man whose music helped inspire so many of those thugs keeps a wary distance from electric guitars on most on this album. Advance reports suggested that Preliminaires would be a jazz album, but that's not accurate, even though one of the best songs on the set, "King of the Dogs," features Iggy borrowing a melody from Louis Armstrong while backed by a traditional New Orleans jazz band.
What do you get if you cross the godfather of punk with nihilistic enfant terrible of French literature, Michel Houellebecq? No, the answer is not comprehensive cover if you drive over a cliff in a fit of weltschmerz, but Preliminaires, a curious, often haunting little Anglo-French album with strands of jazz, blues, country and electro-pop that contemplates the futility of human existence through songs with titles such as Nice to Be Dead. Iggy writes that the album took shape "completely outside the modern music industry" and was born out of a revived interest in New Orleans-era jazz and reading Houellebecq's The Possibility of an Island. The novel struck such a chord with his own existence that he took it to a cold seaside hotel in France, and there is a corresponding bleak beauty to songs such as Spanish Coast and I Want to Go to the Beach, Iggy's low vocals gritty against the smooth guitar and synth melodies.
Rock Iguana back with decidedly un-Stooges outingFrom the sound of his latest (the Ig’s 15th solo joint in a musical career dating back to The Stooges’ late-’60s proto-punk), James Osterberg Jr. desperately wants to do something other than rock your world. He’s on something of a death trip, possibly brought on by the untimely passing of his longtime friend/bandmate Ron Asheton earlier this year.
It's hard not to root for Iggy Pop. At the very least, his initial tenure with the Stooges earned him more than his share of bricks in the modern rock foundation. Beyond that, his very survival in the face of untold self-destruction merits a few slaps on the back, too, and his first two solo albums, recorded with the help of buddy and benefactor David Bowie, remain classics in their own right.
Jacques Brel, Georges Brassens, Édith Piaf, Charles Aznavour, Léo Ferré, Serge Gainsbourg, and… Iggy Pop? With the release of Préliminaires, Pop aims to join the French chanson tradition without losing sight of his past. While the results are repetitive and uneven at times, the album represents a welcome subversion of expectations from the so-called Godfather of Punk. On first glance, the idea of Iggy Pop recording an album inspired by French author Michel Houellebecq’s 2005 novel The Possibility of an Island seems curious.
Peanut butter-covered proto-punk, actor, drug-addled mental patient, rock’n’roll survivor, insurance salesman: Iggy Pop has been a lot of things. Never before, however, has he presented himself as a smooth French jazz singer, but, to some extent, that’s what he does on latest LP, Préliminaires. If this may seem an unlikely course of action, memories of his last record The Weirdness (made with the reformed Stooges) may suggest it’s not an entirely unwise one.
Iggy Pop's newest offering doesn't have a lot of savage snarling. Nope, instead he's come up with a bunch of jazz pop ballads, a move that's almost punk solely because of how unexpected it is. [rssbreak] He definitely deserves credit for going out on a limb, and his gravelly baritone suits this material better than you might think. Unfortunately, most of the music sounds like outtakes from 1980s-era Leonard Cohen, with a bit of Serge Gainsbourg thrown in.
Initially, this was meant to be a massacre. As the disappointing thirty-six or so minutes faded after its first go around, Iggy Pop’s latest album, Préliminaires, felt the tired, inoffensive and mediocre byproduct of an aged rocker trapped by his own legacy as one of the most dangerous men to ever front a band or occupy a stage. A supposed deviation from the Pop paradigm, Préliminaires is said to have taken its cue from New Orleans era jazz music (Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong to be specific) and as having been inspired by French novelist Michel Houellebecq’s book, The Possibility of an Island.
Iggy sings ballads. In French. With clarinet solos. He also dabbles in Dixieland jazz, spoken word, and chilled electro-lounge music on his 15th solo album. If that sounds hideous, or hilarious, it’s actually a little bit of both. You know it’s a long way from ”I Wanna Be Your Dog” when the ….
Iggy Pop Iggy Pop as a chanteur, crooning and contemplating life with autumnal bitterness and resignation? That’s his unexpected guise on “Préliminaires” (Astralwerks); he even sings “Les Feuilles Mortes” (“Autumn Leaves”) in mediocre French. The album was sparked by Michel ….
With every passing year, Iggy Pop, 62, looks increasingly like one of those "visible man" model kits, the ones that expose the knotty, crimson musculature and miles of circulatory threading. Préliminaires is the aural equivalent of just that inner Pop, a 12-tracker that could almost be filed under "jazz," which finds the former James Osterberg reinventing himself from the inside out, crooning a graveload of chansons du mort inspired by the works of French novelist and provocateur Michel Houellebecq. Pop no longer wants to be your dog so much as he wants to be "King of the Dogs.