fri 25/09/2020

CD: Iggy Pop - FREE | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Iggy Pop - FREE

CD: Iggy Pop - FREE

Iggy affectingly contemplates life and mortality in an often tuneful, jazz-flecked set

"As the tide rushes in to where you once began, we're only human," Iggy Pop, "Page", 2019.

It’s half a century since Iggy shrieked that it was “No Fun”, that it was “1969, OK”, that he wanted to be your dog. His original Stooges and his storied cohorts David Bowie and Lou Reed are all no longer with us. The Ig is the last man standing and he knows it. 72 years old, he’s the lizard-punk shaman figurehead who, off-stage, is a considered literate gent, the radio presenter with the velvet croak.

It’s half a century since Iggy shrieked that it was “No Fun”, that it was “1969, OK”, that he wanted to be your dog. His original Stooges and his storied cohorts David Bowie and Lou Reed are all no longer with us. The Ig is the last man standing and he knows it. 72 years old, he’s the lizard-punk shaman figurehead who, off-stage, is a considered literate gent, the radio presenter with the velvet croak. His new album acknowledges that he’s now an old dude. It does so with elegiac poetry, cheeky humour and unforced gravitas.

While Pop’s last album, Post Pop Depression, was a sonic tribute to his Bowie/Berlin years, the two before that dipped a toe into jazz and that’s where Free heads, although it’s a rather different beast. Trumpet player Leron Thomas is the main featured instrumentalist, but the album was finessed into shape by fellow New Yorker, experimental guitar composer Noveller (Sarah Lipstate). Iggy inhabits the work in reflective mode and, while the first half of the album has groove, the second steps back into spoken word, addressing death itself.

The most obviously rocking tune is “Dirty Sanchez” which begin with an avant-Latin trumpet solo but gradually builds into a chugging, goofy, sweary, call’n’response rant at the state of the world (“Rich man, make it stop/We don’t all want the cock”!). The two songs “Love’s Missing” and “James Bond”, meanwhile, are both goodies, riding great bass grooves to solid climaxes, with “Sonali” their downbeat sonic cousin.  So that’s the first half. Then things get darker and more thoughtful.

The four minute “Page” is a melancholic statement of mortality delivered in a croon so wavery it’ll divide listeners into those moved and those who think it sounds like a basso profundo Kermit the Frog. It contains yet more delicious trumpet work from Leron Thomas and from here the album slows to a set of poems and spoken word, backed with muted brass and tone washes, including Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” and Iggy’s own closer “The Dawn”.

This may be Iggy’s equivalent of Johnny Cash’s later American recordings. Not everyone will buy into this older, philosophical crooner or the poetry but, for those that do – and I include myself among them - it’s a touching, well-crafted set. Happily it also contains three or four stonking new songs.

More new music on theartsdesk

Below: Watch the video for "James Bond" by Iggy Pop

                                            

One song is delivered in a croon so wavery it’ll divide listeners into those moved and those who think it sounds like a basso profundo Kermit the Frog

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