The Godfather Of Punk
On April 21, 1947 The Osterbergs of Muskegon, Michigan welcomed their bouncing baby boy, James Jewel Osterberg into the world. Little did they know that their son would grow up to be known as the "Iguana of Rock," the “Godfather of Punk," the incomparable "Iggy Pop."
Looking like someone
who has just done thirty years of hard time at San Quentin, the 57 year-old
Iggy Pop is still churning out unabashed rock and roll. His latest release,
Skull Ring, features sixteen blistering tracks.
It's hard to believe that Mr. Pop, as the New York Times refers to him, is still
going strong. While Rod Stewart croons to "I'm In The Mood For Love,"
Pop is screaming on a Peaches collaboration, "You came to see a rock show,
this aint a fuckin' talk show, you came to see it all!"
Skull Ring also marks the reunion of the Stooges after thirty years.
In the '90's, original members Ron and Scott Asheton began playing with Thurston
Moore (Sonic Youth) and rock provocateur Mike Watt in a band called Wylde Ratttz
performing Stooges material. Moore departed and Jay Mascis (Dinosaur Jr.) joined
the group. As their tour blazed across Europe even the band members were amazed
at the inferno ignited in the mosh pit by Stooges songs. Iggy became aware of
this while promoting his album Beat'em Up and decided that it might be time
to work again with the Ashetons. An entire album was contemplated but Iggy wanted
it to feel real: "I've got different facets to what I do and I've got to
represent it all. I wanted to represent my touring band [The Trolls] and the
fact that that I work constantly with other artists - and some pretty fucking
estimable ones at that."
The four Stooges-penned songs really reflect the special bond that Iggy has
with his original band mates. There is a finesse to the songs that contrasts
with their sloppy, cacophonous timbre. Iggy and the Stooges are like Mallomars
and milk, decadent but delicious.
His touring band, The Trolls, credited for six songs on the album, is adequate
but somewhat lacking in sincerity. It's loud and definitely garage but unfortunately
forgettable. The two Green Day numbers bear the indelible stamp of Billy Joe
Armstrong which impressed Iggy: "Billy Joe is really talented, so anything
I could get him to do, an idea about the vocal, an extra guitar riff, anything,
I just said, 'do it, do it, do it!' He is a genuine, key talent, really the
first American writer to uncover the roots of what has become neo-punk and emo,
frankly, it all come from that one band."
On the albums first single "Little Know It All," Iggy teams up with
Canadian pop-punksters Sum 41. Having met Deryck Whibley at a party, Iggy was
impressed by the front man's enthusiasm. He wanted to write lyrics that would
work with the band's radio friendly pop-punk sound. Whibley along with manager
Greig Nori (Treble Charger) began writing a song that was distinctly not a Sum
41 song but rather a slower paced yet still rocking number more in the early
80's style of Social Distortion.
Iggy was cautious: "I'd already been at it for two decades by then.
But what they wrote was good. And I had a similar problem with the lyrics, so
I tried to write a lyric from their point of view. I tried to remember how it
felt when I was a kid and how the kid in me still feels."
Hard living may have taken its toll on Iggy Pop's appearance but judging by
Skull Ring, nothing can stop his ceaseless "lust for life."