So I'm listening to Iggy Pop's new one, Avenue B, and I'm thinking,
"Is this really as awful as it seems?" I mean, the thing starts out with
a recitation cleverly titled "No Shit" (RealAudio
excerpt), in which the former world's forgotten boy, having
recently hit the big Five-O, informs us that "Strangely, I became more
bookish," that "I wanted to find a balance between joy and dignity on my
way out," and that, "Above all, I didn't want to take any more shit, not
from anybody." OK, Ig, I'll bite. I'll be the passenger; I'll ride.
Where're we goin'? Well, those books come in handy right away, as on the
opening song, "Nazi Girlfriend" (RealAudio
excerpt), wherein Iggy sings, "I want to fuck her on the floor/
Among my books of ancient lore." Good joke conning us into believing even
for a minute that Iggy might go all literate on us in his old age; after
all, he was already comin' around the 40 bend when he penned the touching
ditty, "Pussy Power." And besides, "Nazi Girlfriend" does include one
memorable poetic rumination: "Her French is perfect/ So's her butt."
Of course, after a few more tracks, the question of taking sh-- or giving
it does become a factor. "If I haven't got a hassle/ I'll create my own,"
Iggy notes in the title track, wherein he also confesses that "My
girlfriend's warm [not the Nazi one, obviously] and loves me/ She's
knockin' but she can't get in." And, unfortunately for us, this attraction/
repulsion theme dominates the album, mainly in the form of girls at least
half his age ("She Called Me Daddy") that Iggy doesn't mind gettin'
physical with ("I Felt the Luxury") but would rather not open up to
("Afraid to Get Close") for fear of becoming an object of psychological
scrutiny. I mean, if he gets his joy and dignity balance jollies from
going on and on about screwing German girls (the aforementioned
little Miss SS), Spanish girls ("Miss Argentina"), French girls ("Long
Distance"), etc., well, good for the old Ig id. All I know is it'd be
just a tad more interesting if there were anything even remotely resembling
an insight lurking anywhere in sight or sound.
Speaking of which, the musical vibe here is mostly of the lounge variety
(several tracks feature the icebox noodlings of Medeski, Martin and Wood,
although if you wanted to get technical, pace-wise we're talking snail
rather than lizard), and there's little to break the Ig-crooner monotony
besides a pointless cover of the early '60s classic "Shakin' All Over"
and the album's lone authentic rocker, "Corruption," which sounds as
though maybe it was written a while ago, perhaps for Brick by Brick
(1990), source of the aforementioned "P-Power" and (it sez here) the
last great album in the Iggy oeuvre (of which there are, yes, quite a
In any event, if you want to have some actual fun with this album, skip
straight to the next-to-last cut, "Motorcycles" (RealAudio
excerpt), and trust me here this song is so melodically
lame that if you just start humming any melody whatsoever to
fit the spare chords, you'll find that Iggy's singing the same thing
you've just made up off the top of your head. Did I say seriously awful?
I take it back. Gloriously awful!