Iggy Pop – Every Loser
by Madeline Bocaro
© Madeline Bocaro, 2023. The text on this site may not be reproduced or re-blogged in whole or in part, in any manner without permission.
Iggy is now staring at me from Mick Rock’s infamous photo on my wall, of him with Bowie and Lou Reed in London, 1972. His obnoxious smile behind the pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes in his mouth is saying,
“I’ve outlived everybody, AND I’ve got a new album out motherfuckers!”
Producer Andrew Watt asked Iggy Pop, “Are you ready to be yourself again?” Thank god he said, “YES!”
Happy New Year to me – from Iggy!
Upon the release of his beautiful, mellow album Free in 2019, I thought that Mr. Pop would be taking it easy from now on. At the Free listening party in NYC, we were all lying on the floor with Iggy (then aged 72) while hearing his album for the first time. I was lying right next to him, and he definitely took a snooze! (Read below).
When Covid restrictions were lifted, he toured extensively to promote the Free album. Little by little, more and more Stooges songs (and older songs of his own) crept into the set, until Iggy morphed and reverted into the human blow-torch we all know and love. He thinks he’s indestructible. Now, at age 75, he is proving it!
This is the best band that Iggy’s had since he ran out of Stooges…
The album features Grammy winner Andrew Watt (who has worked with Ozzy Osbourne, Justin Bieber, Elton John/Britney Spears, Ed Sheeran). It’s on Watts’ Gold Tooth label. Other musicians are: Travis Barker, Stone Gossard (Pearl Jam). Josh Klinghoffer appears, along with Jane’s Addiction members Dave Navarro and Eric Avery. Also featured are Chad Smith, the unmistakable bass of Duff McKagan of Guns N’ Roses, Chris Chaney and the late Taylor Hawkins.
Every Loser comes in many formats and configurations, one more expensive than the other, with bonuses and posters. I don’t care about any of that (and Iggy probably doesn’t either). The music is all that matters!
Iggy has said that the failure of the Stooges albums was because Elektra had marketed the records to college kids, when the band was really representing to the dropouts and the underdogs. He is still singing to us, the ones who understand him best!
The first track, ‘Frenzy’ is a freakin’ amazing electrical jolt! Iggy’s back to scorch the earth with his trademark profane primal passion!! Nobody saw this coming. It’s a welcome gut-punch! It’s hard and heavy with lots of hooks! The first line is about his dick, and so is the last. IGGY’S BACK!!!! When he performs this new material live, he might die trying, and that’s fine with him! 2023 tour dates have been announced for Iggy and The Losers. Perfect. (When the Stooges were re-organizing in London (in 1972) he wanted to re-name the band Iggy and the Users!)
For decades, Iggy has uplifted us though his times of joy and misery, emanating pure joy through his sincerity, honesty and determination. So shut up and love him! He says that most of the songs on the album were done in one take.
This lyric says it all:
“My mind is on fire when I oughta retire”.
In a recent interview with NME, Iggy said,
“It’s based on a bit of personal experience and a little bit of how visibly nuts I am…
One thing that comes with the particular game that I’m involved in to make a living…. I’m not a celebrity culture person. I’m not gonna go out and tweet an insult to my enemies. It’s just not me. I had a lot of stuff saved up, if you will. A few things were pushing my buttons, and I just said it. It popped out.”
‘Frenzy’ has the same blistering rage and energy as the songs on Iggy’s 2004 album Beat ‘Em Up – especially ‘Mask’ and ‘Howl.’ It will be amazing to see him do this live! Iggy has always combined the fervor and mayhem of Mick Jagger and the poetic transcendence of Jim Morrison onstage – adding his own deeper and sicker twist. A bad leg and back (which makes it seem like he has a ball and chain around one ankle) does not deter him at all.
Watch and Listen to ‘Frenzy’:
‘Strung Out Johnny’ was the second pre-release single. Here comes Johnny Yen again! And he’s “all f*cked up.” This is a flashback to the great Iggy songs on his solo records, New Values and Lust for Life, from a much more MODERN GUY with updated equipment and new technology! There is a nostalgic vintage-style synth playing the counter-melody, with a Killers vibe and a riff loosely based upon Nirvana’s ‘Come as You Are.’ The musicianship is stellar and the song is yet another Pop masterpiece. 75-year-old Iggy is (hopefully) reminiscing about his days as a junkie. His memories are crystal clear. The track begins with him trying to score. He is not waiting for the man – he’s knocking on the dealer’s door. Iggy is such a terror, that the dealer is hiding from him!
Hey man, I see you
Open up, okay
Get out of here, Iggy
Come on now, fix me up!
There is a parallel to love being so compulsive, like a drug. The lyrical ambiance is similar to Iggy’s 1977 song ‘Turn Blue’ (“Mama, I shot myself up/down…”)
Watch the video!!! – ‘Strung Out Johnny’ https://youtu.be/qbQHlQ-tubY
Iggy is throwing around over-ripe/rotting fruit, with some extreme close-ups of his over-ripe body. A couple of clips from the ‘Home’ video are inserted. The funniest part is that most of it is filmed in a convenience store, and I love the ending when he lies on top of the ice cream bin! It’s hilarious because I ALWAYS look in the ice cream bin – and there’s always that same old typical Good Humor ice cream! I never buy it. The frame where he’s lying down naked and twitching, surrounded by rotting fruit is priceless – especially because the bananas on his crotch are perfect and in their prime. Sending a message about his virility, as usual! I am so in love with this crazy person!
The album is a refreshing break from Iggy crooning in French, and the more mellow (although beautiful) Free album. I am especially loving the relief from all the horns he had been featuring on his songs and on tour. It was becoming Iggy and the Tijuana Brass!
(The only instance in which I like horns on an Iggy or Stooges record were Steve Mckay’s sax, and THIS:
The Ridiculous Trio Plays The Stooges: https://madelinex.com/2020/08/15/ridiculously-brilliant/
‘New Atlantis’ is Iggy’s love song to his adopted home of Miami (his new ‘Paraguay.’) After stating the coordinates in a narrative voice, the punchy ballad kicks off. In his mind, describing “her” as “a beautiful whore of a city” is a huge compliment, coming from Iggy. She welcomes pushers, murderers, swindlers, thugs… “because here, a man can be himself.” Unlike Donovan’s hippy/trippy singalong ‘Atlantis’ way down below the ocean, Iggy’s ‘New Atlantis’ (where he is lying low) is slowly sinking. Doom accelerates the magic of the city, “because people are desperate for love and beauty.” After describing his end-of-the-world vision (the earth is ready to detonate in a fire of imperial emptiness”) he signs his love letter, “Miami, I love you.” I detect a bit of cowbell here!
‘Modern Day Rip Off’ is kick-ass, with a ‘TV Eye’ vibe with a tinge of Alice Cooper. Some great riffing and a killer drum sound – accentuate the lyrics spewing teenage, middle-age and old- age angst and rage against the modern world, and the music business. Our singer misses his escapist drug-taking days. He rhymes bucket with fuck it. I love the way he dumbs down his brilliance.
‘Morning Show’ takes it down again to a slower pace for a lamenting ballad about the mask that must be donned by a celebrity. It’s Iggy’s very own ‘Tears Of a Clown.’ There is something about this that reminds me of Sinatra.
Within the special edition Punk Magazine issue of the CD, Iggy tells Flea,
“However I start in the morning, I put on a good face. If you’re not in a good mood, fool yourself. Fool yourself motherfucker. Don’t get down. Don’t let yourself down.”
‘The News for Andy’ is a short piece in which Iggy reads short advertisements for psychiatry and an insurance company.
Iggy’s inner child sings the hardcore ‘Neo Punk.’ Although this is a tongue-in-cheek pastiche of the celebrity punk rockers (some of whom play on this record!) it is not unlike any classic by The Sex Pistols or Generation X. Members of both groups are opening for Iggy in London in July ’23 as Generation Sex! The punk sings of boredom… and about the little blue prescription pills that match his hair color! That’s about right. Iggy gives a maniacal chuckle at the end.
The repeated one-note piano key (of course) conjures ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ on ‘All the Way Down.’ Sleigh bells would have been a bit too much. The starting riff sounds as if Ron Asheton is infusing it from heaven. It also evokes ‘Neon Forest’ from Brick by Brick. The vocal is particularly refreshing, as Iggy is screaming in a higher register – the voice of his youth, with his baritone miraculously disappearing for a few minutes! There is some scorching guitar work on this, as there is on most of the album!
Iggy got the title of his new album from a lyric in the song ‘Comments’ (styled with his own brand of Power POP) about fame and some of the nasty comments he has received from online trolls. He told NME,
“When I read these comments, especially the brutal ones, it’ll be some guy with a macho name like @superdudemuscledestroyer. He’ll write something like, ‘Iggy you little wimp, this sucks’”, he mimics in a squeaky voice before bursting into laughter. “I do think about the pleasure this person gets out of it. Andrew spotted the line, “Every loser needs a bit of joy”, and suggested it as the title. I didn’t think I could carry that ball, but ‘Every Loser’? It’s nice ’cause it’s inclusive.”
In a strange way, the quiet bridge on this reminds me of Lou Reed’s ‘Street Hassle’.
‘My Animus’ is an interlude, as if we need an intermission during this short presentation of in-your-face music (36 minutes / 11-songs). Iggy declares himself a terror,
“My animus can stand up all on its own to smell out and find the saucer of milk and drink it all.”
We don’t need to be reminded that this sly cat is still feral, but it’s a nice touch. It would have been nice to include a cameo here by his bird, Biggy.
The longest track, ‘The Regency’ begins with an intro similar to the demented doo-wop OD at the start of ‘Tonight’ (on Lust For Life, later recorded by Bowie with Tina Turner, Caribbean-style on his Tonight album in 1984). Again, Iggy rages against celebrity and elitism, amidst which he has found himself in his golden years. After his long struggle and climb, he reaches the summit to find something extremely distasteful. He is still raging against it. He wants to ‘Fuck the regency up!” This is operatic in style – with movements fluctuating from slow, to head-banging speed. It most likely contains more f-bombs than any other Iggy composition, beginning and ending quietly. He was never aiming for radio play – his life is not radio-friendly!
“I’m the guy with no shirt who rocks; Andrew and Gold Tooth get that, and we made a record together the old-fashioned way.
“The players are guys I’ve known since they were kids and the music will beat the shit out of you.”
2. Strung Out Johnny
3. New Atlantis
4. Modern Day Rip Off
5. Morning Show
6. The News For Andy
7. Neo Punk
8. All The Way Down
10. My Animus Interlude
11. The Regency
The cover drawing is an original work by fine artist Raymond Pettibon, brother of Black Flag’s Greg Ginn. He designed the album covers and logo for Black Flag. He has also worked with Sonic Youth, The Minutemen and Foo Fighters, among others.
Iggy Pop – Free – Listening Party
@YouTube Space NYC – September 10, 2019
by Madeline Bocaro ©
It was Free and it was PRICELESS!!
Watch the whole thing here:
A surprise announcement appeared on Iggy’s Facebook page at short notice! I RSVP’d right away!
With the posters still hanging on my walls and my love for Iggy as strong as ever, I cherish this chance to see him again on the basis of the Japanese saying, ‘Ichi-go ichi-e’ – the premise that it’s a miracle when we meet – and that each meeting could be our last.
About 30 people were gathered in a small YouTube studio with no idea what to expect. We sat facing a carpet with pillows in the middle of the room, and the new album Free began to play. Iggy walked out and sat down amongst us, listening to one full song. He then invited us to join him on the carpet for the rest of the album. (He later explained that he didn’t want to just sit in chairs and listen, so he asked for pillows to be thrown around ‘like Jamestown’)! It was his intention to present the album live, with the musicians but they had other commitments, so he will be back later to do that.
So myself, my friend Jamie and some guys spent 30 minutes lying next to Iggy while listening to his entire new album!!!! I hope some of his magic Iggyness rubbed off on me! I curled up next to him like a cat during this intimate Bed-in. He was calm and intently listening and proud of his new music. He was so relaxed (I think he even fell asleep for a few seconds). His extreme calm brought serenity to the room.
When the music stopped, Iggy explained the meaning and process behind every song on the album. He also played individual tracks by Noveller (Sarah Lipstate) and Leron Thomas explaining why he asked them to appear on his album.
A stunning film clip of The Dawn was shown – Iggy plays the part of an artist who paints the dawn every day, but one day the dawn doesn’t come.
Then came a meaningful Q & A which Iggy really enjoyed! He walked over to sit close to whomever the mic was handed to, answering each one-on-one. It was like when Bowie invited the Sigma kids in to hear his Young Americans album! We were all stunned and speechless afterwards! I asked if he is really free now. He gave a poignant answer which you will see here.
Most touching was when a guy thanked Iggy for answering his letter during the time of American Caesar, when an address was printed on the album encouraging fans to send letters. Iggy mentioned that he carried around a sack of mail like Santa Claus on tour and answered all of it – because he was very lonely at the time. It was heartbreaking to know that such a beloved guy could feel so lonely.
Despite how he may feel in his older incarnation, Iggy looks extremely healthy – in fact, he glows almost as much as when he was covered in glitter decades ago! And there’s still a bright twinkle in his eyes.
We are enamored by this wild man because of his gentle warmth, humor, sincerity and conviction. He’s like an old friend. Iggy is our crazy cool uncle, telling us kids all the tales of his past wild escapades amidst the family’s grimaces. Except that HE’S STILL DOING IT! These are Iggy’s glory days. He is basking in the glow of adoration, yet admittedly uncomfortable with the superfluity it brings.In The Sun last week, he said, “I’ve managed to become quite a non-controversial figure, like somebody’s teddy.”
Well maybe he’s more like our pet iguana.
Read my review of Iggy’s album, Free
© Madeline Bocaro 2023. No part of this text may be copied, photocopied, reproduced, translated, re-blogged or reduced to any electronic medium or machine-readable form, in whole or in part, without prior written consent. Reproduction in any form without permission is prohibited. All text written by Madeline Bocaro on this site is protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without written permission.