From godfather of punk to francophile crooner, Iggy Pop has always made unexpected moves. But he returns to his hard rock roots on Friday with help from some stalwarts of the US indie scene that he helped create.
New record "Every Loser" features guitarists and drummers poached from a who's who of the 1980s and 1990s rock fraternity: Duff McKagan of Guns N' Roses, Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam, Dave Navarro of Jane's Addiction, Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers and the recently deceased Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters.
The firepower is evident from the first track, "Frenzy", and anyone who saw the 75-year-old rocker perform on his recent world tour knows there is no sign of him slowing down.
"He's really the last of the Mohicans since the passing of David Bowie and Lou Reed," said Gilles Scheps, co-author of "Iggy Pop and The Stooges" and founder of his French fan club.
That trio collaborated closely through the 1970s and helped define modern alternative rock, but it took Pop many years to reach the same level of renown as Bowie and Reed.
"Iggy Pop was not recognised in his own country -- American audiences passed him by," said Jean-Charles Desgroux, author of "Iggy Pop: Shake Appeal".
But since then he has become an icon, as his original band, The Stooges, and many of his solo records have become lodestars for successive generations of artists.
Returning to the sound that made his name, surrounded by acolytes, "consecrates Iggy as the godfather," said Desgroux.
The rocker left his hard-partying lifestyle behind in the 1990s.
"I could see the end of the road," he told the New York Times of his decision to go clean.
"My teeth were falling out, my ankles were swelling up, my music was getting [expletive]."
On record, however, he remained adventurous, with spoken word albums like "Avenue B" from 1999 or the uncharacteristically jazzy, low-key album "Free" from 2019.
He has even tried his hand at some French chansons on "Apres" and alongside Thomas Dutronc on "Frenchy".
"He took the fans in an unexpected direction with 'Free' and just when we no longer expect him to rock, he comes back at a gallop," said Scheps.
The variety reflects the fact that the musician, after decades of seeking attention with wild antics on and off the stage, can let people come to him.
"When I started, the demand was very low," he told the New York Times. "Now I've got more than enough to do."--AFP