Wednesday, September 1, 1999

Rock and remorse

Posted By on Wed, Sep 1, 1999 at 12:00 AM

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This new record is named after a rough urban thoroughfare in New York, which, figuratively speaking, could have run parallel with the wild life of the now middle-aged icon, Iggy Pop. At 50, he explores the quiet self-confrontation of spoken word, confessing to strange bookish tendencies and to contemplating his own death (on the opening track, "No Shit"). And it must be a tough job for a legend. He throws in a cracked-yet-rocking cover of "Shakin’ All Over" like a drunk man raising the last glass of the night. But his sad, quiet resignation reigns supreme in romantic laments and Midwestern soliloquies — easy on the metaphors and heavy on the vowels — that lean casually against the progressive jazz tranquility of Medeski, Martin and Wood. He’s the only poet I can think of who can talk about feeling like a hamburger bun and still arouse a level of empathy.

While the ideas are still raucous, the music and feel are after-the-fact, like the sound of dust and debris settling in the wake of a nuclear blast. The fact that he seems to be telling the truth demands attention, if not respect, as he seeks his balance between rebellion and dignity in the sexually charged isolation of "Miss Argentina" and "Nazi Girlfriend" or the touching neurosis of "She Called Me Daddy."

The world might not need to know Iggy’s secrets. It might not care that he was embarrassed by his girlfriend reading Cosmo, or that one of his lovers had a perfect ass. But somehow, in the carnal helplessness of his confessions, he seems to have discovered that people are turned out quickly on a wheel of time that doesn’t stop for anybody, not even seemingly indestructible rock stars.

Not a revelation, but definitely something to think about.

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