Teatime Dub Encounters - EP by Underworld & Iggy Pop

    Once asked if religious, Henry Rollins respond, “Yeah. I believe in The Stooges. I listen to Iggy Pop every Sunday.” I second that motion, Mr. Rollins. Seen as a God among men to many, Iggy Pop is one of the most vital forces and important voices in music history. You could even make the argument that him and his gang of stooges literally invented what we know as punk rock today. Being a heavy metal kid with a punk rock soul, it doesn’t get much bigger than Iggy Pop for me. Next to his Detroit native, Alice Cooper, those driving force no holds barred type rock stars and my heroes are exactly what the music industry (and entire world, for that matter) are missing today. Thats why when I see the likes of them still making music today, nothing makes my big ‘ol punk heart beat faster - well, almost nothing. All kidding aside, when I see Pop, Cooper, and even Bowie up until his final days (rest in peace and please come back) put out new music on a pretty regular basis I’m riddled with all kind of emotions. Mostly positive, as they’re my heroes and will welcome with open arms whatever they decide to put out. Some better than others, sure, but way better than nothing. The other being sad and nostalgic emotions because no matter how good the current Iggy Pop offering is, it just ain’t no Fun House. And that’s ok, and that’s true for every artist; but it just leaves a bit of a sour taste. But, hey, at the end of the day, for my money; new Iggy Pop is better than no Iggy Pop. Any day of the fuckin’ week, my friends. But I believe the ultimate sadness lies in the fact that just like his pal Bowie, he won’t be around forever. This applies to many classic artists still pumping out the tunes, as great as they are, one day, they will stop. That poses the question who’s out there to carry the torch? Who the fuck knows, man. I don’t have the answer. And neither does Iggy Pop; he’s about to leave it up to us, and he’s damn well comfortable with that; it seems. 

    Never one to be put in a box, with styles ranging from the most high velocity chaotic blues punk rock of all time, to dark 80’s Bowie influenced pop, to supplying vocals over an EDM type record; Iggy is the essence of punk rock even when he’s not being punk rock. That’s what separates him from the rest, he will make music that he wants to make, on his time, whenever he wants, and maybe he’ll tour. He’s the man, the boss, and the embodiment of true rock n roll. From being a bloodied torso frilling about a stage to a classy, insightful, tea drinking, politically charged, post-punk American gangster; it simply doesn’t get much more inspirational or cool. Now, that my love letter to Mr. Pop has concluded, let’s get to the music. 

    I’ll be honest, if aforementioned above Iggy Pop’s name was not attached to the collection of tunes, I probably would not have checked it out. Not being the biggest electronic rock and/or EDM and/or whatever the kids call it these days fan, I’m known to pass over these often times pretentious and boring offerings put out these days. The cynical old man I am says, 3 chords and the truth, less computers, please. Naturally, sometimes I’m wrong and don’t give near as much credit where credit is due to these artists, and after this record especially, I’m beginning to come around. Once again, that is the impenetrable strength and beauty of music, it can turn you on to basically and entire genre you’ve previously dismissed by blessing you with one record you like. You go back, and appreciate it more. It enriches you as not only a music fan, but as a human being. I can’t think of too many other things or people that have done that for me… can you? I never did complete all the credits required for my philosophy degree - sorry. I was too busy smashing my guitars and spinning Stooge’s records. I think I learned more that way. ANYWAY.. yeah, I let my predispositions to not necessarily loving electronic music go for my man Iggy, and wasn’t disappointed even for a second. Maybe it’s just because he’s accompanied by the quite highly regarded Underworld, England-based electronic rock wizards that I previously had no idea of their talent or legacy. Formed in Cardiff in 1980, these dudes have been pumping out quality and dare I say brilliant music for pushing 4 decades now, and my ignorant punk rock ass was just about to write them off. So sorry, lads, But, I’m very glad I didn’t and I’m very glad Iggy teamed up with them- because the result is damn near perfect. 

    Kicking things off, literally with a kicking drum beat and brilliantly layered electronic lingo I’m not well versed in enough to properly relay to you, with Bell’s & Circles. Providing a captivating and cyclical-yet-ascending musical backdrop for Iggy Pop to lay down some wisdom upon us all, the Underworld and Iggy serves as a brilliant little musical conversation between America and England, and the absurdity and crudeness (why we love Iggy) in the lyrics serve as a political metaphor for the good old days. Well, it might not even be a metaphor, but, I feel when Iggy Pop reminisces about smoking, doing blow, and hitting on flight attendants on airplanes; it’s a political statement of anti-political correctness. Solidifying it with a wrapped “You can’t do that!” As a response to all the awesome things Mr. Pop reminds us that you could have done in say, the 70’s, that you simply cannot do now. For better or for worse, it makes us miss the good old days. It makes us miss good old Iggy and the Stooges and all of the punk rock antics that are nipped in the bud by the powers that be today. So, is Iggy saying, fight the power? Or recognize the power and be as rock n roll as you can in today’s current climate? For my money, Iggy is telling us to fight the power. As if it’s a direct response to my epilogue of love and sorrow, he might be saying, Yeah. I wont be around forever. Look at all the awesome shit I used to to do, and we as a nation used to be able to do. Look at how everything has changed. Look how I’ve changed. What’s next? Who will save us? Do we even need saving? Or do we just need to be allowed to do narcotics on airplanes again? Whatever the answer may be, our godfather Iggy poses a hell of a question and makes a hell of a statement, as per usual. And if this is any indication for how the rest of the EP well go, were in for an insightful heavy duty treat of electronic post punk British and American fusion. And we are.

    Trapped is exactly what you’d think it would be, continuing with the current state of music and the political climate. Without beating you over the head with politics (and thank god, because we all get enough of that - music should be the escape, IMHO.), his tongue in cheek narration over the poppy beat provide us with probably the most “punk” track on the record. But simultaneously and brilliantly, the most personal and deep thematically from Iggy. With lyrics such as “No drug, no drinks, nothing’s gonna help me no more,” “I’m trapped in a band, I’m trapped in this land,” and “Let’s hear it for Johnny! He’s got a house! He’s got a mortgage!” You get the gist. Is this another longing for the good old days and sorrow for today? Or is it a misuse of the good old days which led to sorrow for today? Either way, we’re backwards and fucked as a society and need a good old lethal injection of some Iggy Pop philosophy - be genuine. Work hard. And put out quality music even if it doesn’t make sense. Fuck everyone else. I love you, Iggy. And I’m starting to really love Underworld, too. The music their laying down is the canvas that Iggy is splattering his seemingly never ending supply of uniquely shaded paint (or blood) all over. Always one to wear his heart on his sleeve, far from shy, his insight just won’t quit on this record. And it’s very hard to dismiss it as unwarranted because it isn’t. It’s genuine and that’s what separates good music from bad - genuinely. And there’s not even a drop of ingenuity here, from either parties. Keep ‘em rolling, boys, we need ya. 

    I’ll See Big is brining things through the halfway point with it being easily the darkest track on the record. Musically, speaking anyway. And depending where your heart lies, lyrically as well. Starting with minor strumming of the strings and echoes of sorrow, horror film score-esque vibes, and straight Iggy narration about the simple subjects of friends and life. Friends, all the good and bad that weight can carry. Iggy is like the wise elder of the pack and he’s preaching some wisdom and personal insight here on the subject. In a disposable and unfriendly world as we are thrust into today, we all need a good old does of self-awareness and honesty. Iggy provides this and pulls no punches in this dark little number. But, once again, why we love Iggy, it doesn’t come without a nice does of self-satire and humor; something else we all need. Upon hearing this track, we can’t help but be transported into Iggy’s personal life and just like his pain in the ass friends, we would like to be one too.

    Get Your Shirt is the epilogue to this beautiful little dark collection of post punk electro fusion songs, and ironically, the most upbeat and reflective. Never one for wearing a shirt, obviously, this provides more self-reflection to Pop’s career, but with more of a smile this time. Seemingly celebrating the fact he never has a shirt, symbolizing freedom and carving your own path though this world. And we can all admire him for just that, and we should maybe take some advice, for once. I can’t help but keep thinking of the American - British contrast in these tunes as they seem to be having a compare and contrast, bond and agree, sort of debate throughout the entire piece. Sprinkled in with a lot of wisdom from the Almighty punk rock elder and whom should probably run from president here in a few years, this is the real deal. Definitely not a record to spin for a super light hearted impress your girl with a good time and tequila type mood, there’s plenty of other punk rock and 80’s hair metal records for that, this is something special. Dare I say, transcendent and beautiful. As always, thank you for everything Iggy Pop. And I hope you don’t stop anytime soon. We need you. 

Rock Rating: 4/5

Gym Rating: 2/5

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