November 19, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 45  

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Iggy Pop

Skull Ring

When "Fun House" by Iggy Pop's former band The Stooges becomes one of your summer anthems, you know you're in for trouble. Off the 1970 album of the same name, "Fun House" is a dirty, angry and attitude filled track that discomforts the listener, while at the same time instilling in them the confidence to say F-you to whoever they want.

It's unfortunate for the 56-year-old Iggy that none of the immediacy and swagger he once had is able to appear on his latest album, Skull Ring. The remaining members of The Stooges back Iggy on four of the tracks; the best, "Dead Rock Star," comes to a familiar punkish wall of sound, but not before Iggy reminds us he has, "gathered awful knowledge you cannot get in college."

Needless to say, Iggy's been through a lot and has probably learned many lessons along the way - and on this album, the most important lesson is to get help when you need it. Big names like Green Day, Sum 41 and his backup band The Trolls play the music on the rest of the album. The most radio-friendly track, "Little Know it All," has Sum 41 banging out their familiar blend of vocals and beats.

But it's a track featuring another Canadian that is the most intriguing on the album. It-girl Peaches raps/sings on two of the album's better tracks: "Rock Show" and "Motor Inn." Her presence, albeit minimal, is a refreshing change on an otherwise testosterone-filled album. While Skull Ring may be worth a listen to hear one of rock's pioneers interact with contemporary new names, it seems like the guest appearances overshadow Iggy's presence. But, like he proclaims in Fun House, "I came to play" - and play he does, if only that.

-Michael Yokota



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