Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Iggy and the Stooges

  • Raw Power [Columbia, 1973] B+
  • Metallic K.O. [Import, 1976] C+
  • Open Up and Bleed! [Bomp!, 1996] C+
  • Raw Power [Columbia/Legacy, 1997] A-
  • Ready to Die [Fat Possum, 2013] **

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Raw Power [Columbia, 1973]
In which David Bowie remembers "the world's forgotten boy" long enough to sponsor an album--and mixes it down till it's thin as an epicure's wrist. The side-openers, "Search and Destroy" and "Raw Power," voice the Iggy Pop ethos more insanely (and aggressively) than "I Wanna Be Your Dog." But despite James Williamson's guitar, the rest disperses in their wake. B+

Metallic K.O. [Import, 1976]
Ignorami consider this dim live tape Prime Ig cos "you can actually hear the bottles flying." Also cos Ig utters the words "cunt, pricks, buttfuckers" (trying to run this world sez Ig, who'd never dream of such a thing himself). And let us not forget "Hebrew" (rhymes with "Rich Bitch"). Great "documentary" but sometimes I really dig Joni Mitchell. C+

Open Up and Bleed! [Bomp!, 1996]
Distinguishable from competing relics of the Church of Iggy by the oddly qualified boast "The Great Lost Stooges Album?" (they do enjoy their punctuation over at Bomp!!), this one recycles the Raw Power follow-ups of the Rubber Legs EP, with dimmer sound than the ruinous underbassing Bowie inflicted on that piece of classic-openers-plus-filler, and also dimmer songs--"Cock in My Pocket" might make somebody a second encore, "Rubber Legs" is a worthier title cut than "Open Up and Bleed," and the rest belonged on the cutting room floor. Plus, wouldn't you know, equally dim live tapes designed to prove yet again that they did actually vamp longer than Hawkwind and Grinderswitch put together--anything rather than get down to business. Really, folks. He was seminal. He was damn good. He's not bad to this day. He wrote more anthems than Richard Berry himself. But anyone who thinks he's the spirit of the music has been taken in by the doomed theory that rock and roll is transgressive by definition. Like any living artform only more so, it encompasses transgression for sure. But it wouldn't be alive if it didn't also encompass a whole lot else. C+

Raw Power [Columbia/Legacy, 1997]
Strict constructionists and lo-fi snobs charge indignantly that by remixing his own album Iggy has made a mockery of history and done irreparable damage to a priceless work of art. This is really stupid. Before it was anointed the Platonic idea of rock and roll by desperate young men who didn't have much else to choose from, first-generation Iggyphiles charged just as indignantly that David Bowie had mixed the real thing way too thin--as Iggy observes, this classic-by-comparison always sounded "weedy" (although, not to insult a valued colleague, "David's" version was also "very creative"). So the pumped bass and vocals Iggy has uncovered on the original tapes, which were supposed to coexist with their high-end screech to begin with, are a quantum improvement. Plus you can finally hear the celeste on "Penetration"--sounds great! Only the slow ones, which like all of Iggy's slow ones are not as good as his fast ones, stand between a statement of principle and a priceless work of art. A-

Ready to Die [Fat Possum, 2013]
His first album worth noticing in longer than one need determine proves that even facing death with his best buds he'll rely on the shtick that has served him so profitably for so long ("Job," "Dirty Deal") **