New Values by Iggy Pop Review
New Values was Iggy Pop’s third solo album and signalled his first for Arista. New Values was also the first solo album he recorded without the help of David Bowie and indeed the first album (excluding Kill City) he recorded without the help of Bowie in some capacity since Fun House. Iggy once again collaborated with James Williamson, who produced the album but only played guitar on one track, Don’t Look Down. Guitar and keyboard duties were handled by Scott Thurston, who played piano for the Stooges final self-destructive phase in 1973 and 1974, as heard on bootlegs such as Metallic KO.
Tell Me a Story is the first song on New Values. This medium-paced rocker is reminiscent of some of the Rolling Stones 1970s output and gets the album off to a good start, even if some of Iggy’s vocals are a little sub-par.
“I’m as healthy as a horse” declares Iggy on New Values, the title track. “Ah, but everything is spinning”, he follows. New Values is decidedly new wave as a punky riff drives us through this brief blast, incorporating a bizarre mostly incomprehensible final verse.
Iggy grates the cheese on Girls. Cheesy lyrics that were probably made up on the spot accompany some good guitar work by Scott Thurston. “Some have beautiful shapes/I wanna live ’til I’m 98” sums up the standard of lyrical content here. Really, Iggy?!
I’m Bored is a features a simple, yet effective riff with dumb lyrics that mine the same ground as earlier Stooges classics “No Fun” and “Funtime” from The Idiot. Iggy’s delivery and personality elevate the track to the status of minor classic. The song’s profile was raised by a memorable performance on the BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test and it was also used for a Grolsch advert in the 90’s. Other lager is available.
Don’t Look Down was the only track on New Values co-written with James Williamson, who also played guitar on the track. The composition, arrangement and all round musical performance is excellent from all concerned on this track. Iggy sings as well as he’s ever done on record and the song’s instrumental break brings to mind No Sense of Crime from the Kill City album. David Bowie was later to cover the song. Whilst Bowie was to cover many Iggy songs, this was the only one he didn’t co-write.
The lengthy epic The Endless Sea is a kind of prog-rock workout and unique in Iggy’s canon. A slow burner, the song takes a few listens before sinking in. Dated synthesizers and lyrics that don’t quite hit the heights that Iggy is capable of don’t detract from the quality of this unusual track.
Five Foot One brings New Values back to more familiar Iggy Pop territory. This quality track has remained a favourite of Iggy’s solo live sets and includes the line “I wish life could be Swedish Magazines”.
How Do Ya Fix A Broken Part and Angel are two weaker but inoffensive tracks. Angel, a ballad, is almost a good song but something is lacking. It should not be confused with the dreadful Aerosmith track of the same name from Permanent Vacation.
Curiosity is a good, piano-led rocker with another superb contribution from the talented Scott Thurston. Nothing, however, can prepare us for the next track, African Man. This is the low point of New Values by some distance. Mainly instrumental, when Iggy does open his mouth to speak/sing/shriek, you wish he’d keep it shut. I don’t know if this is an attempt at world music but then, I don’t know why it made it onto the album in the first place. Terrible.
Billy is a Runaway finishes New Values with a kind of 1950’s rockabilly theme featuring yet more searing guitar from Scott Thurston. A good, fun track with plenty of attitude from Iggy.
In some ways, New Values is Iggy Pop’s first true solo album, free from the presence of David Bowie. It doesn’t quite scale the heights of The Idiot or Lust For Life but is a good consistent album and has a straight ahead honest quality that perhaps the earlier albums lack. The uninspiring cover features Iggy as a kind or Rudolph Nureyev figure but don’t let the cover spoil the contents. There is much to be recommended about New Values.
Rated Sound gives New Values by Iggy Pop a rating of 8/10.
New Values (1979) by Iggy Pop Track Listing
1. Tell Me a Story
2. New Values
4. I’m Bored
5. Don’t Look Down
6. The Endless Sea
7. Five Foot One
8. How Do Ya Fix a Broken Part
11. African Man
12. Billy Is a Runaway