READY TO DIE' (Fat Possum)
Iggy and the Stooges
Iggy Pop circles back four decades with "Ready to Die," collaborating anew with the surviving Stooges who made "Raw Power," the 1973 album that was belatedly recognized as a protopunk landmark. "Ready to Die" is more historically self-conscious than "Raw Power"; no doubt deliberately, it runs less than a minute longer than the 34-minute "Raw Power" LP. But its attitude stays brash.
''Ready to Die" reunites Iggy with the guitarist James Williamson; they wrote the songs on "Raw Power" together. But soon afterward, in 1974, the Stooges disintegrated amid drugs, audience hostility and band conflicts. Although Williamson helped write and produce Iggy's solo albums until 1980, their collaboration ended acrimoniously. Williamson turned to electrical engineering and eventually became vice president of technology standards for Sony.
Iggy has dipped into many styles through the years; on his 2012 album, "Apres," he made himself a retro French chanteur. But "Ready to Die" does exactly what's expected of a Stooges album.
Drums kick, guitar riffs churn and Iggy taunts and sneers at the world, terse and unbridled. "I'm a hanging judge of the world I'm in," he declares in the album's title song. In longtime Iggy style, the songs set out to push hot buttons, with titles like "Burn," ''Sex and Money" and "Dirty Deal" (snarling about a recording contract). Yet while Iggy leers dutifully in "DD's," he's not the rampaging libido he was on "Raw Power." Now, at 66 (and still going shirtless onstage), he's got things on his mind like the economy — "I got a job but it don't pay" he barks in "Job" — and the violence in American culture; "Murderers can stand their ground/ain't nobody else around," he sings in "Gun."
But it's the Stooges sound that carries the album: Williamson's riffs, guitars and old-school production. The beat has the muscle and fluctuations of a live rhythm section. The rhythm and lead guitars keep a distorted edge and they grapple and claw their way through the songs, affirming that the Stooges were as much post-Rolling Stones as pre-punk. Iggy and the Stooges know they aren't wild kids any more, but they're not going away quietly.
— JON PARELES, New York Times
HAVE HARMONY, WILL TRAVEL
Carla Olson (Busted Flat Records)
Released this week, this new disc by acoustic guitarist-singer Carla Olson is a rich, charming collection of duets that give a fresh take on songs from the Americana, folk, alt-country, pop, blues and rock genres.
It opens with a fine rendition of the Sons of Desert song, "You Can Come Cryin' to Me," in which Olson is paired with Juice Newton. The 12 compositions are reinterpretations of works of Del Shannon, Buddy Holly, Gene Clark, and others. Included is a Jersey-flavored rocker, "All I Needed Was You," written by Steven Van Zandt of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. That song features Olson and Scott Kempner on vocals.
"Have Harmony, Will Travel" is a fun, breezy, laid-back set of songs that blend much better in style and substance than a typical collection of folksy, road-weary duets.
Mark Egan, Karl Latham and John Hart (Wavetone Records)
Grammy-winning electric jazz bassist Mark Egan leads this powerful new trio that includes drummer Karl Latham and guitarist John Hart.
It's a free-form, nine-track set with 70 minutes of largely improvisational jamming built around standards from the likes of Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, and Wayne Shorter. This loose romp traverses jazz, rock, Brazilian, funk and world music, as it hits a joyful groove.
Egan is a disciple and former student of one of the greatest electric bass jazz improv masters of all time, the late Jaco Pastorius. He is a former member of the Pat Metheny Group and has recorded with Sting, Arcadia, Roger Daltrey, and Joan Osborne.