Iggy & the Stooges, "Ready to Die" (Fat Possum)
Iggy Pop returns with his old '70s sidekick, James Williamson, for one more blow-out under the Stooges' name. At this point, Pop, Williamson and original drummer Scott Asheton (plus bassist Mike Watt) can't add much to what the Stooges accomplished in their 1969-73 heyday, when they created a template for punk, post-punk and just about every permutation of garage rock. Yet, the new CD holds up as an unexpectedly sturdy late-career coda.
"Ready to Die" is much stronger than the band's 2007 comeback, "The Weirdness." A lot of the credit goes to Williamson, who joined the retooled Stooges for their third and best-known album, "Raw Power." On Pop's 1979 Williamson-produced solo album, "New Values," the singer's vocals took on unexpected dimensions of vulnerability, and those echoes resurface on "Ready to Die."
Williamson's also a hard-rock riff machine, and the new album kicks off with four shots to the dome. "Gun" mocks America's love affair with violence, "Job" nails the recession blues, "Sex and Money" swings with glam-rock sarcasm.
The album's 10-song, 37-minute, get-in-get-out concision is a major virtue, though the quality control isn't consistent. The lascivious "DD's" is just plain dumb, and the sensitivity doesn't play well on the sleepy "Unfriendly World." But Pop digs deep on the strangely beautiful dirge "The Departed," which sounds like an eulogy to his late Stooges bandmate, Ron Asheton. If this resilient little hymn is the last thing he records under the Stooges name, it makes for a heck of an exit.
Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune
Fleetwood Mac, "Extended Play"(iTunes)
The four songs on the new Fleetwood Mac EP arrive steeped in echoes of the past, in at least one case quite literally: "Without You," a strummy acoustic number overlaid with harmony vocals by Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, reportedly dates back to sessions for the two singers' 1973 duo album.
But the other tunes on "Extended Play," newly composed by Buckingham and co-produced by him and L.A. studio pro Mitchell Froom, feel no less rooted in earlier iterations of this on-again/off-again institution.
"Miss Fantasy" has some of the folky back-porch guitar action of "Never Going Back Again," while the stripped-down "It Takes Time" could be Buckingham's version of Christine McVie's big piano ballad, "Songbird." And opener "Sad Angel" shimmers with the glossy textures of 1987's "Tango in the Night."
"Extended Play" — Fleetwood Mac's first studio output since "Say You Will" in 2003 — doesn't sound stale or overworked; indeed, the songs have an impressive crispness that makes their familiarity seem less like evidence of a tapped creative supply than like proof that this is simply the kind of music Fleetwood Mac writes.
Mikael Wood, Los Angeles Times