Top positive review
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An Eclectic Iggy
on 13 May 2016
Given Iggy’s recent 'return to form’ with Post Pop Depression I was inspired to revisit this 1993 album and was left mightily impressed. If anything, the mood of American Caesar is rather more positive (if variable) than on PPD, a truly eclectic collection of songs featuring tales of urban alienation, 'punky’ nihilism and drug use interspersed with themes of social progression, romance and the exuberance of life. Of course, this doesn’t stop the man’s reputation preceding him, the album being emblazoned with the hilarious cover note: Parental Warning: This Is An Iggy Pop Record.
Early on, we get two album highlights: Wild America, with its pulsating guitar riff and a degree of ‘rant’ not dissimilar to (though a little milder than) that on Post Pop Depression’s superb closer, Paraguay. This is followed by Mixin’ The Colours, an encouragement of multi-culturalism, featuring a great blues feel and ace harmonica delivered courtesy of Malcolm Burn, band member and album producer. The nihilistic leanings of Hate, Sickness (with its 'slowed-down’ Ramones-like power chords), Plastic And Concrete (one of the most exuberant songs here) and Perforation Problems (Iggy angrily reflecting on past addiction) are offset by the dreamy pop romanticism (does Iggy really do this?) of Jealousy, Beside You and It’s Our Love – this latter song really does appear to be shot through with genuine heart-felt emotion (though I can’t help detecting an element of tongue-in-cheek). At the more positive (perhaps commercial) end of the musical spectrum here we get the acoustically-driven Highway Song and Girls of NY, plus the rockin’ Boogie Boy and a stunning version of Louie Louie, with lyrics modified to present Iggy’s early 90s take on global politics. There’s even time for irony, with the ballad Social Life and Iggy’s 'proclamation’ on (the overlong) Caesar.
I was very much torn between a 4 and 5 star rating but, despite some inconsistency in the song quality here, the album’s innate energy, eclecticism and (frequent) moments of inspiration lead me to a top rating and the view that American Caesar is almost certainly one of Iggy’s finest post-Berlin period solo recordings.