One might be tempted to read into the title of this record, given that it’s Pop’s first record without David Bowie and his backing band in a few years. That might be reading into it too much, though, as I’m not sure this record is dissimilar enough from Lust for Life to really spend to much time on this.
As others have remarked, without Bowie Iggy Pop lacks some really great material. I have never heard Kill City but I liked Williamson’s songs on the last Stooges record. But here it’s mostly their collaborator Scott Thurston working with Pop, when someone does, and the results are not as good as Pop’s last couple of records (even the one completely hijacked by Bowie). This makes sense – David Bowie is an all time great songwriter, Iggy Pop is not – but it’s still a bit of a let down.
Pop’s lyrics pretty standard for him, including some which make me think, some which make me laugh (“Five Foot One”), and just a few that are cringe-inducing with 40 years distance.
But the issue for me, the one which makes me ambiguous about this record despite really enjoying some of the songs, is Pop himself (and his band). This is not the Iggy of the Stooges or even Lust for Life, nor is it the Iggy of The Idiot. Instead, at times it feels caught somewhere between the two Bowie albums, wanting to embrace lean, muscular rock and roll on the one hand, and wanting to branch out and indulge in different ideas on the other. (There are horns and strings on this record!) I’m not sure it works as much as it doesn’t or, at the very least, the contract from one song to the other is sometimes a little jarring for someone expecting a leaner, calmer, more mature Raw Power.
But after a few listens I think I’ve come to terms with that both in terms of this record and how it sort of set up his sound for the rest of his career. (The few later Iggy Pop records I’ve heard since remind me more of New Values than they do the earlier records.)
It’s growing on me.