The Michigan Daily discovered in November 2004 that several articles written by arts editor Alex Wolsky did not meet the newspaper’s standard of ethical journalism. Parts of these stories had been plagiarized from other news sources. Although the article below has not been found to contain plagiarism, the Daily no longer stands by its content. For details, see the Daily’s editorial.

Mira Levitan

What’s left to say about Iggy Pop? The self-proclaimed godfather of garage rock and pioneer of Detroit’s hardest rocking band of ne’er do’ wells the Stooges has been marred recently by a string of unsuccessful and uninspired releases. On his latest, however, Iggy finds himself returning to the studio with a handful of new, blistering songs as well as a few friends, most notably former Stooges Scott and Ron Asheton for the first time since the charismatic Raw Power released in 1973.

Skull Ring shows the many faces of Iggy Pop. Collaborations with Green Day, Sum 41, Peaches and his touring mates, the Trolls, bring to light the same insipid cuts that preceded Skull Ring. The album’s most defining moments, in fact, are when Iggy is teamed again with the Asheton brothers.

The pinnacle of the album, the raucous “Little Electric Chair,” picks up right where Raw Power left off. The swilling guitar changing chords at the drop of a hat and unrefined production value is reminiscent of the spacious feeling that elder songs like “Search and Destroy” once encapsulated. Other Stooge-backed tracks “Skull Ring” and “Dead Rock Star” display how the Asheton brothers have grown as musicians even as Iggy’s lyricism has drastically fallen.

For decades, Iggy has claimed that the Stooges, while recording in the studio, were constantly attempting to capture the vigor of their live show. On stage, Iggy had a swagger that was unlike any others in his class. He moved like a serpent, his bare torso protruding through the distorted guitars that laid waste to another song behind him as he tossed his biting cynicism at the witnesses.

So, to criticize Iggy Pop because of inept lyricism would be ignoring the fact that he was never about the sophisticated side of rock’n’roll like his NY counterpart Lou Reed. He was about the raw audacity of the music and the frenetic environment from which rock was bred. Simply, any Iggy Pop record is going to be a half-hearted attempt at capturing the bristle of his live show, which simply can’t be done.

Rating: 3 stars.

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