Monday, June 1, 2009

preliminaries by iggy pop

Iggy Pop had never interested me. Of course now that I've heard his newest album, the break from punk-form Preliminaries (out 6/2), I find myself so intoxicated with his voice and writing I can't help but wondering if French pop and New Orleans jazz might be a gateway drug to the world of punk.

Based on the French novel Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq, and originally conceived as a film soundtrack, Preliminaries is worlds away from a style Pop himself described as "idiot thugs with guitars." Instead, we're treated to a twelve song jazz tribute to the wash of memories one collects with ages.

Of course, even with Iggy Pop 2.0, he is and will always be a punk. His raspy delivery rattles "Nice To Be Dead," his take no prisoners approach to self-evaluation reminding us on "I Want To Go To The Beach" that, You can convince the world you're some kind of superstar/When an asshole is what you are. He may be approaching the age that many begin plotting retirement, but he hasn't gone soft.

Pop's history as an actor comes in handy as he tosses off a pitch-perfect spoken word track, his world-weary baritone asking, What is a dog, but a machine for loving? Normally this is a convention that leaves me cold -- but within the context of a soundtrack for a film yet to be made, why wouldn't we need a monologue to drive home a point?

Iggy Pop has spent a large portion of his career wanting to be your dog. But now at 62, he's unequivocally proven that as "King of the Dogs." Songs sung in phonetic French? Why not? Breathy part punk, part Serge Gainsbourg duets like "She's A Business" ? He can be anything he wants.

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