Thursday, April 20, 2006

IGGY POP - New Values (arista/BMG)

When I was a wee shnook, my brother useta harass me with Iggy Pop. He'd sing me songs like 'Im bored', tell me the guy was a Nazi sypathiser and tell me horror stories about a concert he did where he saw some alcoholic scumbag cold-cock some heroin addict sacumbags or vice versa. And Iggy fans would always be an interesting lot. You'd get the working-class Yobbo Iggy fans that would swear by a steady diet of Stooges RawPower and Funhouse. You'd have the University femmo chick fans that would tell you how 'beautiful' Iggy is physically, even though he always looked like a skinny runt with muscles to me. Then you'd have, in my town anyway, the heroin addict art-fuck fans that went to private schools, did art-school, read gay French literature and hung out with artists that paint or take photos, or guys that play in bands that tour Berlin. Which gets me to this record NEW VALUES. Straight out, I think this is Iggy's BEST solo album, full stop. Forget LUST FOR LIFE, leave that to the dreckos that hang out at Cherry Bar and try to act intelligent and sophisticated. The IDIOT is too gothic and New-Wavey and cluttered for my tastes, and after that you're led up the garden path to some BLAH BLAH BLAH and ar fuck it, I reckon he didn't make a half listenable rec until AVENUE D, which I think is a great contemporary AOR album. The most interesting thing on NEW VALUES is Iggy's intelligence, epsesh in the lyrics. Supposedly smart people never take Ig's lyrics seriously. They always put him down to 'teen suburban angst' or some shit, he's never taken as a lyricist who can talk like, you know, a mentsch. In many ways NEW VALUES finds the Ig finding his own feet and becoming a mentsch. Free of all the glitter and gloss of the Bowie influence, the Ig confronts his banal mid-Western existence to evolve from teen suburban angst to adult-suburban angst. If teen angst is all about everything being fucked, well then adult angst is about self improvement, despite everything being fucked. Self-improvement is the key to this record, and for most of it, the core of Iggy's solo career. From the opener TELL ME A STORY, Ig comes out singing about the trials and tribulations of the average American shmuck, until he proudly proclaims on NEW VALUES - 'I'm healthy as a horse'. As a result, Ig has made the most PUNK of his records since the Stooges. NEW VALUES takes the piss outta the whole middle-class self-improvement shtick at least 30 years before barachlo like Hank Rollins or the Fight Club, or every neu-punk band that gets their good-looking faces on the TV these days. GIRLS is a classic, a proud anthem for heterosexuality, that if sung these days would be laughed at. Thing is, Ig aint joking here, even if he sounds like it, you can't do that these days. And the playing on this track is fucking BRILLIANT. That's another great thing about this album, and that makes it ever more punk, it's the playing through the whole fucken thing. It's all fantastic. Classy, sophisticated, at times relaxed and edgy rock n' roll played by a gun band led by RAW POWER maestro JAMES WILLIAMSON, Stooges/Detroit ring-in SCOTT THURSTON, JACKIE CLARK bass, and Kraut-precision via drummer KLAUS KRUGER. The record holds up as well as similar punk records of the time, in fact I reckon this baby has aged better than BLANK GENERATION, another sophisto-ramantico-street-hassle type record from that period. In many ways NEW VALUES plays like the best late-70s Rolling Stones album that never was. You can't go wrong with tracks like FIVE FOOT ONE, CURIOSITY, BILLY IS A RUNAWAY and the anthem I'M BORED. Really there's no duds on this album, even the extras on the CD aren't bad. I mean, could you ever imagine the Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeahs or the STORKES, I mean STROKES singing 'I wish life could be Swedish Magazines'? Fuck no.

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