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Iggy Pop

Skull Ring

Release Date: 11.04.03
Record label: Virgin Records
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.


The Jack Nicholson of Punk Strikes Again
by: matt cibula

Iggy Pop is the Jack Nicholson figure of punk rock: both are always spoken of as the coolest guys in the world; both are important for some crucial performances; both have cultivated important friendships to help prop them up; and both, despite recent moments of brilliance, did their best work in the 1970s.

I’m not necessarily convinced, about either one. I mean, come on, you know As Good As It Gets was crap, and the whole sunglasses-at-the-Oscars thing is played the hell out, so forget Jack. And Iggy…well, let’s just say that Metallic K.O. is my favorite Iggy and the Stooges record, and it’s got some of the worst gawdawful shit on it you could ever imagine. (Plus bonus anti-Semitism, which is bogus even when it comes from a real live Jewish guy.) But that didn’t mean me and Joe didn’t play that blue cassette tape over and over again in junior high, frightened and exhilarated by how crazy Iggy was taunting the crowd: “You can throw all the bottles you want, but your girlfriends will still love me!”

So here it is, now, a new Iggy album: and it’s pretty great! Part of this is that he uses five different backing bands to keep the sound fresh. One of them is called the Trolls, and they’ve got random punk guys in it and it is fine. One of them is called Green Day, a little combo you might have heard of, and their two songs are cool. One of them is called Sum 41, and they only do one song, but I like Sum 41, so I like their song a lot. And one is Peaches, which is okay even though I find Peaches massively overrated and not all that sexy; “Rock Show” is repetitive but fun (“Rock show! / You want a rock show! / A big gigantic cock show!”), and the other one, “Motor Inn,” is more repetitive and less fun.

Since I’m a critic, I’m supposed to be all salivating over the fifth band, which features Ron and Scott Asheton from the original Stooges. Yeah, Ron’s still got the chops to be a great metallic punk guitarist, and yeah, Iggy sounds more comfortable with them than with any of the other bands, but no, that doesn’t mean “Dead Rock Star” is interesting at all. “Electric Chair” has some life to it, with Iggy making buzzing noises and telling someone he’s gonna die. The title track makes no sense at all, and “Loser” is a good rock song but is just too intentionally sloppy to be enthusiastic about.

As far as the lyrics go here: well, it’s Iggy, the very definition of “hit or miss.” The song “Whatever” has a title that’s better than the rest of the song: “She didn’t say why and she didn’t say what for / She just said I been thinkin’ it over.” But “Here Comes the Summer” is not only kinda riff-rocktastic but hits a higher target by aiming lower: “Here come a woman / A mighty mighty woman / Here come a woman / We’re gonna get a surprise!” I’m not really sure we need the wimpy metaphor of “Supermarket,” where Iggy is a sandwich on the shelf BECAUSE HE’S A MUSICAL ARTIST DONTCHA KNOW, but his solo blues piece, “Til Wrong Feels Right,” is perhaps THE GREATEST THING EVER RECORDED, a spiteful old-man view of music and video and how everything is a piece of shit. Very nice, very perfect.

So yeah, this doesn’t need to be more than an hour long, but I don’t’ mind that, because most of the songs are really good. It’s not amazing, but it’s nowhere near bad, especially when you make judicious use of the fast-forward button. So, yeah, he’s back, again, and he’s kinda better than he’s been in a while. 16-Mar-2004 8:40 AM