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In the wake of the unlistenable embarrassment that was The Weirdness, the news of a new Stooges album was met with a bit of trepidation. Granted, guitar maestro James Williamson was back in the band having replaced the late Ron Asheton, and the Williamson-era Stooges recordings represent my favorite version of the band (my favorite band, by the way), but could they redeem themselves after such a lazy, uninspired waste of plastic that only served to forever tarnish their legacy? I am so happy that the answer is YES.
Ready To Die shows a more mature Stooges, a band that’s taken its share of knocks and is far wiser for the struggle. “Burn” opens with a blistering lick from Williamson that quickly transforms into his signature deadly soloing before launching into a stomping riff for Iggy Pop to intone his venom. Fortunately, the album holds up after this rather impressive opening. “Job” is another loud rocker featuring a pounding beat from Scott Asheton and a killer riff from James Williamson. “Sex & Money,” “Gun,” “DD’s” and “Dirty Deal” could have been written during the Kill City sessions, especially when Steve Mackay‘s saxophone blares onto the scene.
That’s not to say it’s absolutely perfect. There are forays into fogey-rock, like the generic title track and “Beat That Guy,” which sounds like something from Brick By Brick with its Guns’N‘Roses vibe, despite the appearance of Scott Thurston on keyboards. “Unfriendly World” and “The Departed” are quiet acoustic tracks that could have been written for Avenue B and, while they’re not bad per se, they don’t fit with the rest of the Stoogeness going on. (I’ll still take any of these songs over anything on The Weirdness, thank you.)
So they successfully got back together and produced some damn good rockin’ tunes that show they’ve still got it in ‘em. It’s particularly amazing considering James Williamson hadn’t picked up his guitar in over 30 years. Good for you my Stoogies, I’m proud of you. Now how about recording those amazing tracks you were working on post-Raw Power that never got properly recorded? (“Head On,” “Open Up and Bleed,” “Til the End of the Night,” “Rubber Legs,” “Cock in my Pocket,” “Wild Love…”) PLEASE!!!
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