As good as they are, The Stooges are often forced into the back seat of their own vehicle by putting Jimmy Osterburg Jr up front. As a fan since I heard the opening riff of Search & Destroy it is something of a treat to review their latest work.
Ready To Die represents the second comeback album for The Stooges, and the first since the departure of guitarist Ron Asheton for the great gig in the sky, and it is a pinball machine pull back and release nod to everything that has come before and since. They seem to have constructed an album which will be safe in the legacy of the band. There's no risk, it sounds how a Stooges album should sound forty years on. There are moments of acoustic clarity mixed into the throttle and groan of what could become live favourites. Opening track 'Burn' drops like an Acme safe, and features the potent combination of fuzzy riffs and Iggy's signature croon. This is brilliantly followed by 'Sex And Money', a saxophone heavy blues number courtesy of Steve Mackay, which has a near Stones faculty to it. It's good to see Iggy's priority on song titles hasn't changed. The backing female adds something to the expected wall of sound The Stooges build, it's another aspect, another string to the bow but still sounds like they did on Fun House. 'Job' represents the final piece in the trilogy which opens the album before it changes tact. "I got a job, I got a job, I got a job but it don't pay shit" Iggy sings, leaving the listener wondering which of his enterprises the lyrics refer to.
'Gun' sounds as though it could have been written by or for Lou Reed, there's a sustain to the chorus vocal which could have come straight from Transformer, but the solo it gives out to is straight Stooges. 'Unfriendly World' represents the first of three acoustic tracks on the album, something the band are not known for pulling off. It sounds a little Tom Waits but in a complimentary way. This is twinned with the last two tracks; 'Beat That Guy' and 'The Departed'.
Ready To Die hasn't pulled out all of the tricks at this halfway point though. The title track and 'Dd's' are an absolute treat. It could be assumed the latter was about erstwhile punk pal Dee Dee Ramone, but the chorus of "I'm on my knees for those double D's" reveals the true intentions. It's a tad self indulgent and a little Spinal Tap but if Iggy & The Stooges don't craft these songs, who will?
Ultimately, Ready To Die is a triumph. It recalls the glory days, doesn't dwell on them but shows why so many artists around today owe them so much. The Stooges are a band who deserve to be respected, not just for daring to make the albums they did, but for continuing to do so, and carrying it through with such aplomb.