.
http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/0d96a76505e342a5d11a68cd155e2c86f9fc9e8d.jpg American Caesar

Iggy Pop

American Caesar

Virgin Records
Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 4 0
July 17, 1997

Iggy Pop's last album, Brick by Brick (1990), seemed as if it might be his swan song — one last blast of creative juice after a decade's worth of mostly uninspired dreck. Three years later, however, it looks as if the record was the beginning of a second wind. On American Caesar's 16 tracks, the protopunk rocker reclaims the slashing, psychedelic-tinged grunge rock he helped pioneer as a Stooge and takes an uncompromising confessional jaunt through loneliness, hatred, jealousy, paranoia and, ultimately, love.

In a trilogy near the beginning of Caesar, Pop spans the album's sonic emotional spectrum — admitting in the slow, tense "Jealousy" that the feeling is "boiling my blood"; repeatedly asking, "Why am I so afraid?" in the chaotic "Hate"; and in the fragile "It's Our Love" proclaiming, "Ain't nobody gonna break up our love." The self-doubt is prime Ig, but there's also a wisdom in the songs that one acquires only after living through the various stages of hell. In "Fuckin' Alone," he reflects on his present life, at 46, in New York City's East Village, where young rockers, rappers, artists and lovers continue to move in with visions of grandeur. "Everybody's in a dream of what they want and who they need," he observes, and at that moment Iggy gets to the quick of what he'd hinted at earlier on the album's Hollywood-style punk rocker, "Wild America."

The rest of the album reels through a range of prickly sensations, from the radio-friendly pop of "Beside You" (a duet with violinist Lisa Germano) to "Sickness," a rocker that deals jokingly with sexual dysfunction; "Mixin' the Colors," a good-hearted, slightly hokey song about the current MTV-contrived climate of multiculti peace and luv; the barn burner "Boogie Boy"; and an update of "Louie Louie," wherein Pop bemoans our complicated times: "Turn on the TV, it looks like a movie/Just makes me wanna sing 'Louie Louie.'"

What elevates American Caesar from merely a good album to a great one is that the songs are sequenced in a way that sharpens the record's dynamics — musically, stylistically and thematically. By all appearances, this is a concept album — but the good kind. Pop avoids self-consciousness by rendering his thoughts as a sort of diary of his life, circa now. Apparently, it's a much richer life than the one he led through the 1980s.

prev
Album Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “You Oughta Know”

    Alanis Morissette | 1995

    This blunt, bitter breakup song -- famous for its line "Would she go down on you in a theater?" -- was long rumored to be about Alanis Morissette getting dumped by Full House actor Dave Coulier. But while she never confirmed it was about him (Coulier himself says it is, however), she insisted the song wasn't all about scorn. "By no means is this record just a sexual, angry record," she told Rolling Stone. "The song wasn't written for the sake of revenge. It was written for the sake of release. I'm actually a pretty rational, calm person."

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com