Even though Brick by Brick successfully presented a mature Iggy Pop, he evidently felt that he needed to find a different way to grow old after the grungy detours of American Caesar and Naughty Little Doggie. So, he reteamed with producer Don Was, brought soul-jazz hipsters Medeski, Martin & Wood along for a couple of tracks, and crafted the subdued, semi-autobiographical Avenue B. "Craft" is an appropriate word -- the music is often used as background for spoken word pieces, and the entire album strives to be a sophisticated, revealing peek into Iggy's psyche, as if it's him confessing to you in a saloon in the middle of the night. Problem is, it just doesn't work. It's stilted, embarrassing, and awkward, never once finding the right note, no matter if Iggy is crooning or reciting his silly lyrics. He doesn't seem entirely comfortable with the experiment, either. The only time he comes to life is on a good, straight-ahead cover of Johnny Kidd & the Pirates' "Shakin' All Over." True, it's a selection that dates him somewhat, but he sounds more relaxed, mature, and dignified here than he does on the rest of Avenue B, leaving no doubt what direction he should pursue for the next album.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine