If you had told me late last year that 2016 would herald the coming of masterpiece albums by David Bowie and Iggy Pop, I probably would have been a bit skeptical. And yet, here we are. January brought us a Bowie album that has made my all time favorites list. I speaking of course, of Blackstar, released just two days before the unexpected death of Mr. Bowie. It is one of those rare records that grows in stature with each listen. In fact, I love it even more now than I did when I reviewed it. Industrial pop jazz, it seemed to be the culmination of everything Bowie had striven to create over the last 25 years or so. It was also the greatest grand finale in rock n roll history. 2 1/2 months later, I have in my hands the latest record by David Bowie’s famous 70’s partner in crime, Mr. Iggy Pop. With increased rumblings of this being the last record Iggy will put out, it is fair to ask if this album “pulls a Bowie”. And the answer, my friends, is a resounding yes. Comparisons aren’t always fair, but I’d say it captures the vibe of those two albums Iggy did with Bowie – 1977’s The Idiot and Lust for Life while bringing some of the aggression back from his work with The Stooges. For good measure, there is some Leonard Cohen style crooning on a few songs. An essential listen, it is one of Iggy’s best albums.
I’d consider Jack White to be on of the most unlikely musicians to break through to the mainstream. Not because of his talent – I believe that is undisputed – but because the abrasive nature of his early recordings didn’t scream out “Crossover Hit”. Nevertheless, Jack White has been a household name since about 2001 with the release of the third album by The White Stripes, White Blood Cells. I think recording the follow-up to that record at Toe Rag studios with Liam Watson (known to me through his wonderful recordings with the Television Personalities) gave Jack White a template to base his recording aesthetic on – clean, uncompressed sound. Third Man Records is doing amazing things (including releasing the upcoming Neil Young record), but Jack White is also a restless musician. With The White Stripes laid to rest, he still performs as a solo artist, with The Raconteurs, and with The Dead Weather fearing members of The Kills, Queens of the Stone Age, and The Raconteurs. It also happens to be my favorite Jack White project, post The White Stripes.