Crawling half-naked through broken glass, smearing himself and horrified audience members with peanut butter, howling “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” Iggy Pop’s drug-fueled stage antics have become the stuff of rock ‘n’ roll legend. As the volatile frontman of seminal Detroit garage band the Stooges, Iggy Pop wrote catchy, stripped-down songs that articulated the nihilism of punk years ahead of its time, the pinnacle of which is the 1973 album Raw Power, arguably one of the most influential albums in rock history.
Now 56, Iggy Pop is a living testament to the damage done by years of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. On the back cover of his latest album, Skull Ring, the punk veteran and longtime heroin addict looks sinewy, pockmarked and leathery – Keith Morris looks fresh-faced by comparison.
Reuniting original members of the Stooges and collaborating with younger musicians, Pop’s latest album raises the question: Can the veritable grandfather of punk offer his audience anything new and/or relevant? Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding no.
In what can only be explained as an attempt to market to a younger audience, there are surprising collaborations with Sum 41, Green Day and even electro queen Peaches. There is a distinctive psychobilly influence throughout the album, evident on tracks like “Skull Ring” and “Private Hell,” which unmistakably channel the Misfits and Social Distortion.
Stooges fans will appreciate “Little Electric Chair,” although it is essentially a catchy update of “Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell.” With cheesy lyrics such as “Skull rings, fast cars, hot chicks, money,” and frequent usage of the word “titties,” the new Iggy Pop aligns himself with the superficiality and retro-gender politics of Mštley CrŸe. As a whole, Skull Ring feels slick, overproduced and contrived – everything his music used to be against. Take some cautious words of advice: Stick to the Stooges’ first three albums.
[Zoe Bower will be paying attention to any lazy, generational slang. Beware.]