Iggy Pop: Preliminaires

By: Ron Hart

"I don't know where my spirit went, but that's alright," Iggy Pop croons on Preliminaires (released June 2 on Astralwerks) , the Detroit punk legend's first solo album since 2003's Skull Ring. It also serves as the first piece of music Pop delivers in the wake of the news surround the untimely passing of his lifelong friend and Stooges bandmate, guitarist Ron Asheton. And, appropriately enough, it is by far his quietest album to date, and his finest since his last attempt at downtempo on 1999's underrated collaboration with Medeski Martin & Wood, Avenue B.

Ig's 15th studio endeavor is all but devoid of the trademark electric punch of such classic Pop albums as Lust For Life, New Values and Instinct. Well, save for one tune, "Nice To Be Dead," which is more like a more kinetic outtake from Brick by Brick than a full-on sonic assault from Kill City. Overall, Preliminaires, inspired by French novelist Michel Houellebecq's 2005 post-apocalyptic clone caper The Possibility of an Island, finds Iggy singing in French on a cover of the classic Joseph Kosma/Jacques Prévert composition "Autumn Leaves," which opens and closes the album, trying on Dixieland jazz with "King of the Dogs," playing the real folk blues on "He's Dead/She's Alive" and pulling off a straight-faced cover of Antonio Carlos Jobim's bossa nova standard "How Insensitive." Iggy even does a spot of spoken word, reciting text from Houellebecq's book on "A Machine for Loving." He pulls it all off quite swimmingly, too, as his trademark deep baritone bears a striking similarity to that of Leonard Cohen circa Death of a Ladies Man. Though his pipes are not as well defined as Cohen's, the sincerity is there, and it's pretty damn cool to hear the same guy who once cut himself with glass onstage and sutured his wounds with peanut butter come off so dignified here. This is Iggy Pop at age 61, trying to find a balance between the chaos of his past and the calmness of his future. Here's hoping he continues to keep it mellow in his old age.

JamBase | Literary
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[Published on: 9/11/09]

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