Winners are grinners, even when we're all losers
Every Loser – Iggy Pop (Atlantic/Gold Tooth)
Best Ig album I've heard in a while.
On the other hand, after reading this you may be a bit peeved with me.
Hey, it's just my opinion. You?
You can go jump!
Having just finished a review of Michael Plater's new LP, “Ghost Music”, I'm in a kind of “blown away” mood, which I initially thought perhaps isn't the right headspace to be if I'm gonna review Iggy's new LP.
However. Time was, when a new Iggy LP, or a new Nick Cave or John Cale record, was cause for an immediate emptying of the piggybank, a curtailing of food shopping, and a trip to my (record) dealer.
Those days are somewhat long gone. Because everyone changes, not least me. When I review a record, I like to have a reasonably empty head, without too much baggage. I may write a bit about my own experience with the artist, for colour and perspective, but I dislike leaning on the past, especially the artist's past.
Let them surprise me, and see if I like the surprise.
While I'm on the subject, I really cannot abide reviewers who seem to want to encapsulate the artist's career, and slot it into place, as if they are some sort of defining oracle whose pronouncements get people's heads bobbing like ... well... noddy dogs in the back window. It's like they're challenged by the artist, and feel the competitive urge to get on a pile of bricks to prove they can piss higher. Artists do their thing. We respond.
If you're not sure what sort of thing I'm referring to – here.
I don't think I've heard Ig's last couple of LPs, but no harm done. I'll either enjoy this or I won't.
Well, first, I do like it, and very much. For once Ig's able to blend his particular and quite unique take of r'n'r attitude and present a balanced selection of songs which blend together very nicely. “reviewers” - dills who don't pay attention to what's being sung about. You get the feeling they put it on in the background as they do the dishes or clean the catbox.
Sure there's a couple of more 'commercial' songs on there. Gotta sell the LP. I mean, thank god this ain't “Party”, that was not a pleasant LP to experience to an 18 year-old. And it ain't as uneven and soul-scraping as “Zombie Birdhouse”, either. If there's an Ig comparison to be made it's to “American Caesar”.
So, yeah, I've got a few favourites. “Strung Out Johnny” is like one of those ‘50s biker movies without the cinematographic pose. 'New Atlantis' is just beautiful. Reminds me of Mark Twain, actually.
As with many of Iggy's later LPs, he's gotten a bunch of specific people together rather than using a set-piece band - which is smart, because there's a kind of variety, and broad strokes with single-hair brushes going on.
Another thing pisses me off is the large number of indie bands who would be precisely nowhere if it weren't for this bloke. So when Iggy sounds a little like them... well. People get things upside down.
Songs like “Frenzy” and “Modern Day Rip Off” are simple, angry clouts at an establishment, in an established fashion. But hey, how many indie punky bands have this man's humour?
I got shit in my bucket
I wish I could say "Fuck it"
Each day I enlarge it
A respectable person
Would not do so much cursin'
At least I'm still kickin'
Am I smart, or chicken?
I ran out of blow
A long time ago|
I can't smoke a J
All my ducks fly away
Hearing those words leap from the speakers had me spilling my Ovaltine. This is followed by “Morning Show” - "go and do the morning show/ I'll fix my face and go" gets your attention... but how about this...
The clown you loved is dead
My insides have turned red
A future that is hopeless
Just makes each day delicious
Time is like a peel
It opens and reveals
Now come on. The man's well into his 70s. He's released several introspective LPs. So many of his friends and colleagues are dead. There's what, only one other Stooge standing? This is a brilliant, brilliant piece of self-awareness.
“Neo Punk” made me laugh aloud. It's brilliant, a punk rant against popular punks.
My hair is blue and my prescription, too
I never have enough to do
... Old ladies cum when I flash my junk
I'm a hunky, Gucci model Neo Punk
It's a bloody hoot. And Ig gives us a broad wink at the end as he laughs at the thing. See, to Ig, punk - the commercial thing punk became decades ago - is the equivalent of, I don't know, hootenanny or polka music. In other words, if you do it, you're taking the piss out of it because it's such a ridiculous genre.
“All The Way Down” follows, a lazily loping thumper which (again) had me cackling. If it reminds me of anything, it's the Pistols' pisstake “Submission” - the difference is that I can't bear to listen to “Submission” very often (and I love the Pistols), and “All the Way Down” is like that thing Buzz Lightyear does, falling with style.
Bats coming through the window
Camels coming through the needles
Snakes coming up the ladders
Weird gas in place of breath
Foam, rubber, Hollywood breasts
Life that smells like death
The gods in heaven have gold
The rest of us just get old
By god, this is savage satire. Name me one fucking band from (say) the Nineties who have this much insight, wit and dark tragedy in their lyrics. Sonic Youth? Fuggeddabahtit.
“Comments” is where the album title comes from, and it's a cracker. If you've got this far in the review, you'll have twigged that it ain't like any other Iggy LP. And it's bloody good. It takes a few risks, risks which are listenable, and takes a few pokes, which no-one seems to have spotted. There's even a couple of semi-spoken interludes which give us pause for thought.
If I have any criticisms, it's terribly minor: I don't think the last song is musically strong enough. Not for an album closer, and not for this LP. That said ... it's stronger than most bands I hear these days.
So, as an album, “Every Loser” is a fucking great series of self-observation and pithy commentary. It might not tick your “Hard Rock” bucket list, but those cafes ... like the music that fits that term ... I wouldn't pay to sit outside. You know?
Sold my face to Hollywood
I'm feeling good
Take off your dress, baby
Breathe in my mouth, baby
The problem with life is that it stops
Hey, you kids
Closing, I've no idea where you can get the LP, but I'm sure your local (record) dealer will know. Smash open that piggybank, and go short of food or red wine. Worth it. - Robert Brokenmouth
"Thе problem with life is that it stops..."
Man, it used to piss me off when every fucking trendy ‘90s slacker rich kid got a "LOSER" T shirt in the Seattle era and that rich fucking showbiz kid, Beck, got to have a big hit calling himself a "LOSER". Ya know?
Cause I was a dropout and a dishwasher with a fat lip and broken glasses-they'd never, never hire me at the Goth boutique where the poser rich kids all worked. The abusive record store owner just gave me shit every day until I quit. All these doofy squares who never even really liked music, until the monopolies played "Teen Spirit" every five minutes for five years, so now they were suddenly all "Alternative", they also gave me shit everyday, because they felt entitled to, 'cause their rich Republikkkan parents owned everything in town.
The vampire bass players and sadist dickhead bookers were drug dealers but nobody cared 'cause they were "the Populars". Trust fund fatsos with vintage equipment and their own recording studios. All these fakes and fraudulent come latelys showed up on the scene and leveraged all their parents money to squeeze out the punks and die hards and rebels and junkies, making it a safespace for douchebags and preppie rich kids with mama mansions and vintage cars, who'd all been programmed to mope around, like they had anything to be depressed about, with all their good jobs and cush record collector lifestyle and Nudie cowboy shirts and pockets full of dope.
First song on the new Iggy album is called "Frenzy", at first, it reminds you of alla Ratboy's bands but then takes a nosedive into "Naughty Little Doggie" punk fest metal. It's alright. It sounds like Iggy. He probably shoulda joined forces with Ratboy 25 years ago.
"New Atlantis" is apparently his ode to his hometown of many years now, Miami, where he resides comfortably with that beautiful bombshell wife of his. On this one he waxes all porchswing philosophical kinda like he did on "Brick By Brick". It must be a helluva trip bein' Iggy, 'cause you know, the Stooges were not cultural tourist millionaire sons from media dynasties just slumming during their college phase like all those motherfuckers they shove in our faces all day now-they were real wild ones. Rejects, rebels, outcasts, black sheep, druggies, derelicts, primitives, hellraisers. I'm ever so glad he finally did the right thing and reunited with those guys who'd had real hard lives.
"Modernage Ripoff" sounds like all the "Modernage Ripoffs", you know-the corporate punk wankers who make slick studio records with big slick metal solos. It's nearly redeemed by Iggy's clucking and one note Stooges vibes at the end. "Morning Show" ain’t bad, sounds like Iggy's furrowed brow serious love songs, like "Shades" or "Beside You", and is seemingly about the perils of media promotion, or hardships of being a sought after VIP room celebrity, or something.
I'm still driven to read Iggy's lyrics as if some famous guy's poetry's gonna somehow help me suffer through a lifetime of trauma, abandonment, mental illness, betrayal, poverty, mourning, grief and abuse. I know that's ridiculous, but sometimes, he really does make me feel better, when he sings something like "Power & Freedom" or "Highway Song", "So Fuckin' Alone", "Innocent World" or "I Wanna Live".
I think his sense of humor's part of it, and his stamina. After years of hazing, they say, he's amazing. Gives longtime losers like me some false hope, even a faint buzz or empty mirage is better than nothin' all the way down here at the bottom of sobriety.
"Neo-Punk" takes the piss outta all the professional punks kinda like "Undefeated" or "Jealousy". The Dead Boys already had a song called "All The Way Down", but I guess lots of people do. Iggy's "All The Way Down", ehh, maybe it'll grow on m;, he kinda alternates between his brooding dark croon and his cartoon "New Values" voices. This one feels like a rant against you know all the hot garbage Kardashian rich people unreality tv bullshit manufactured death culture.
Bats coming through the window
Camels coming through the needles
Snakes coming up on ladders
Weird gas in place of breath
Foam, rubber, Hollywood breasts
Life that smells like death
The Gods in Heavеn have gold
The rest of us just gеt old, oh, yeah
He knows it's all phony, manipulative, programmed, sicko cannibalistic garbage, in the pig media and he has always struggled to find his own righteous path in it, where he can be part of the showbiz culture, without becoming contaminated and corrupted by it, like he confessed in "Butt Town" and "Main Street Eyes" and "Winners & Losers".
"Comments" is the best song musically and has Ig talkin' 'bout Hollywood whorin' and yak, yak, yak, yakkin' all night say nothing, everyone's a critic, meaningless internet chatter. "Fuck The Regency Up" is my fave song on the album so far, perfect new wave with good advice. Very life affirming, he's still got the rocknrolls. Love ya, Iggy. xo - JD Misfortune
The are people who have a perennial problem with every Iggy Pop release. It’s that they’re never Stooges records.
A hard core of fans wants the man to revert to his primal alma mater - no matter what. They compare every release to what’s gone before and bemoan every croon, saying it should have been a scream.
For these people, Iggy’s past drags so heavily on him that there is no critical middle ground where a current release can be judged on its own merits.
Don't be those people.
There’s a tagline that Wayne Kramer was tossing around last year to justify using the name MC5 for his latest backing band project: “We are all MC5”. We aren’t but you get the point.
Universalism is a tie that binds. It gives everybody a ticket to the party. That being the case, Iggy is reminding us on his latest album that we’re all losers and that 99.9 percent of those who make up the music industry are dicks.
It’s gratifying to see the praise being heaped on “Every Loser”. The mainstream critics are piling on – and in a good way. Point your browser at metacritic and feel the collective love.
Of course, cliches abound: Iggy’s now the lovable old punk, resolutely doing things his way. The survivor swapping his gold watch for a dog collar and growing old disgracefully. Do Not Go Gently Into The Night. Here Comes Success.
There’s nothing wrong with revisionism, but there was a time when the tactical use of “loser” was verboten for the Ig. The story goes that he was shopping the demos for what would become the Bowie-assisted “Blah Blah Blah” when he was advised not to highlight a lyric like “Winners and losers/Which one am I?” because it would reinforce negative perceptions.
How times have changed.
Everything Jim Osterberg did with the Stooges has been validated, thanks to multiple global laps of honour by both reformed versions of the band.
Re-assessments of his solo catalogue have been spurred by the passing of David Bowie, and Ig’s subsequent collaboration with Josh Homme on 2016’s well-received “Post Pop Depression” album and tour, which of course referenced Iggy’s Berlin period.
There have been many more many high points than stinkers in that output, and of course he is rightly praised as one of the greatest live performers ever to dive off a stage.
Iggy’s a true original and he’s got a right to make indulgent albums like the French language “Apres” and the jazzy “Free”, just as people have an option not to buy them.
There’s nothing left to prove and that’s most of the context you need in order to understand “Every Loser”.
"Every Loser" is one of Ig's best and you get the feeling it's going to sell OK, too,m in all its vinyl/cassette/multi-artwork variants. It's almost three weeks after its release and physical product is only filtering its way into Australia.
It’s a well-produced (more on that soon) piece of punk rock and roll played by a storied group of players drawn from bands like Guns N Roses, Foo Fighters and Red Hot Chilli Peppers - all of whom grew up sucking on the teat of the Stooges, incidentally.
Its star power recalls “Skull Ring” (although evidently some of that record's cameos were label induced), and its lyricism harks back to “American Caesar” from ’93. it’s much better than the let’s-make-a-hit studio extravaganza, “Brick by Brick”.
Grammy Award winning producer Andrew Watt might be used to running with the likes of (gulp) Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and Ed Sheeran, and he’s evoked a modern sound with crunch. It's like he’s taken his lead from an episode of “The West Wing” and (paraphrase) has “let Iggy be Iggy”.
We all know there are several of them.
From the human being reflecting on the barbs of keyboard warriors on “Comments” with its surprising degree of vulnerability, to the burned punk rocker with a fuse that’s still lit on “Neo Punk”, there’s lots of Iggy to go around.
Lead-off track “Frenzy” did its job, garnering mainstream chart attention and making people pay attention. It’s ferocious but by no means the best thing here.
The drug confessional “Strung Out Johnny” or “New Atlantis”, the ode to Iggy’s adopted home of Miami, are the stand-outs. Both are mid-paced, reflective and restrained. They’re delivered with trademark vocal imperfections (no auto tune here) and a level of self-deprecation that most ageing rockstars can only imagine.
“Neo Punk” is the potential runt in the litter; it’s pop-punk that’s been tightly wrapped enough in a melody to pass itself as a Green Day rant about not much, but clever lyrics and Iggy’s dry delivery save the day. Give that man a blue prescription.
“Modern Day Rip-Off” borrows liberally from the Stooges sound (ditto “All The Way Down”) and drops a sly line or two (“I ran out of blow a long time ago/I can't smoke a J or my ducks fly away”.) The disengaged, phoned-in vocal of “The Weirdness” seems a million years ago.
There’s a little bit of “Kill City” about “The Regency” but it bleeds off to reveal a shiny metallic veneer. Not a bad way to end an album.
Some people can’t abide modern production sounds and fair enough – the “more volume is better” approach does destroy dynamics, and nothing comes near dry sounding drums and a rhythm section that breathes.
Thankfully, “Ëvery Loser” rocks. There’s minimal use of drum sequencing (only on one of two interlude” tracks), the basslines are huge and fat, and the co-writes make it feel like a “real” rock band record. Producer Watt was hands-on for “Every Loser” as one of the players and gets kudos for being so deeply invested. - The Barman