Iggy Pop isn't like you and me. You can tell by the way he croons "I'm so fuckin' alone" on track eight of American Caesar: he knows things that we don't understand yet. He's eaten and starved and fucked and been fucked over and lived and not necessarily learned, and some instinct within him insists that he put it all down in a pop song that will break your heart and bruise your face and, if you don't watch out, lead you into thinking you ought to be living your life a lot more like he does. But you can't. Get it? Because Iggy Pop is a highly evolved form. And if you don't like to place music in a hierarchy like that, then you can take your punk rock and your alternative youth movement and your democratization-of-art pop sociology and plant 'em between your grassy knolls, because Iggy's more punk than you, too.
I'm still not keen on Pop's balladry ("Fuckin' Alone," for instance, sounds awful close to what happens when Anthony Kiedis tries to sing until it eventually goes beyond awful into the genius zone), but I'll take it when it comes sandwiched in the sort of blood-and-muscle rock and roll Pop's writing these days. "Wild America," with guest vocal by Henry Rollins, ranks in my book with vintage Stooges. "Jealousy" sounds like it might be about Pop's old buddy David Bowie, and it sounds like he squeezed the song out through clenched teeth. "Hate," "Boogie Boy," I could just list them all. Long album. Low on filler. Goddamn if the old boy isn't singing the stuff these ears want to hear.
'Course, if there's a truism to be spoken about Iggy Pop, it's that while what he does on albums is strong, what he does live is simply more. I don't think I've met the woman who hasn't fantasized about Pop's bare-chested stage prowl, and I don't think I've met the man who really blames her, and if Pop's band can reproduce the ragged glory that comes charging out of the disk, this show will be worth twice whatever you might pay for it.
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Iggy Pop plays at 8 p.m. Sunday, March 13, at Numbers, 300 Westheimer, 629-3700. $16. Chainsaw Kittens open.
* Andy Summers and John Ethridge at Rockefeller's Thursday, March 10
* Brave Combo at the Satellite, Friday, March 11
* Jawbreaker at the Shimmy Shack, Sunday, March 13
* Junior Brown at Rockefeller's, Tuesday, March 15