Friday, September 18, 2015

Radio Burnin Up Above

Iggy Iggy Iggy Iggy.... This month's band of the month will be Iggy Pop and the Stooges. It will also be short (at least comparatively). Not that there isn't plenty to say about Detroit's finest, but you don't have to say it all.

They are simple and direct and powerful always. They get called the fathers of punk, though not very many punk bands live up to them. They have a savvy about them, though - which punks did too, let's be fair - an ability to slip sideways into those long grooves of Fun House. They never fail to rock, and they rock all over the place, at least on those first 2 records - they manage to be calculated and completely raw, musically adventurous and brutal at once. They are almost alone out there.

And Iggy - the Stooges made three records and then he went off on his own, and something was lost. Not his doing exactly - he made a lot of good (to great) music on his own - and Iggy himself was always a beast. But he spent decades seeming wildly out of place with his surroundings - way cooler and scarier and better than anyone around him, spending a lot of time playing with journeymen. Even when he played with people who were great artists in their own right, Bowie and Lou Reed, say, he was different, off kilter - too much, even for David Bowie. Too wild, too cool - as a performer - just beyond everyone else. He's not the only rock and roller to put on an extreme show - but he's one of the few who is both awe inspiring and a bit terrifying who never comes off as even remotely desperate. He is in control, no matter how out of control he is.

But still: after those Stooges records - it's all a bit less. Which is credit to the Asheton brothers, as much as anything - I can't say they're particularly great musicians, but they are dead on to what they are doing. They had a sound, and they nailed it - fuzzy guitar, the wah wah solos, the plain, relentless drumming - it's a sound that fits Iggy's voice, growling and punching along, distilling that garage sound to its perfect form. It is relentless and punchy and I can listen to them forever. Ron's guitar sound - that's something brought to perfection right there.

All right - here are my Ten favorite songs from Iggy's long and illustrious career. The songs are still pretty good in the late 70s - but the x sound misses the Ashetons. All right - here goes:

1. 1970
2. 1969
3. TV Eye
4. I Wanna Be Your Dog
5. Loose
6. Search and Destroy
7. Lust for Life
8. Passenger
9. Mexican Guy - even in their late incarnations, they can be funny and very funky
10. No Fun

Video: I wish there was more of them in their heyday - what there is is pretty mindblowing. Here's 1970, in 1970 -

And a short documentary, that works in most of the old footage (Iggy and his peanut butter!), along with some interviews from the time of their comeback: "we never failed to make an impression"

Lust for Life, later:

Full concert from 2003:

Searching and Destroying at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with James Williamson:

Finally, since I'm going to see them tonight, here are the Feelies covering Real Cool Time, Bill and Glenn trading solo, though Bill gets the better of them, for once:

And finally, a tribute to the power of the internet - here is a cute girl covering The Passenger on the Polish Voice:

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