Iggy and The Stooges/Iggy Pop DVD reviews [MVD]

Film / Video Reviews
Iggy and The Stooges/Iggy Pop DVD reviews [MVD]
Apr 19, 2005, 00:10

IGGY AND THE STOOGES Creem Presents: Live in Detroit DVD IGGY POP Target Video Presents: Live San Fran 1981 DVD

Let's assume Iggy Pop to be the iconic and by-no-means-ever ironic talisman of the essential ur-source of our beloved ur-Rock. And by that I mean that which is our sub-particle source, that musical being which can only be known and defined by its very movement. He doesn't represent nor comment on his own or any other sounds. What the heck you think original means, after all?

It's been mentioned that Mr. Pop has no tattoos. I couldn't care less—well, maybe about his hairstyle. But upon musing on the basic assumption of “tattoo” as permanent physical adornment presuming great individual or tribal significance, it's interesting to note the absence, especially in the context of his personal and musical history. But, what's he gonna do—ink an exact replica of his face on his face? You can't get any more iconic than Iggy and for sure as fuck can't buy anything more real. And that to me is the essence of this idea, and this ideal, we've labeled as The Stooges (and not Iggy and The Stooges, which is a whole nutha sub-set fish kettle).

I got my current dog the week Johnny Ramone died. Christened Dee Dee, as I felt it more appropriate for a bitch, but in general a tribute to the Ramones, and no kidding, I think of them when I think of her. And they were for a time almost as simultaneously old/new, primitive/futuristic as the Stooges (Leave Home is the second release peak of the pyramid akin to Funhouse). And again,  like The Stooges she is at once a relic and a harbinger. Wild, yet subtly sophisticated; highly intelligent, yet destructively childish. Well suited for multiple uses, specializing in none. The Stooges? Our Stooges. We all want to be somebody's dog.

Live in Detroit, Iggy's early men return to the tar pit of their primordial oozings. Reborn amid the summer stars after the asteroid hit and the lights went out: the gig was performed a week late due to recent history's most genteel blackout. (I was in the Motor City that night and the Devil must've gone down to Georgia. No riots, no tears. We had a hootenanny on a friend's front lawn.) Iggy, the Brothers, Watt: their futures passed. Suddenly, last summer: I've heard tell the NYC Roseland show surpassed the oddly spirited and tuckered out Jones Beach pleasantness. But my fondest memories of being spirited away by these ghosts come from the show on NYC's Randall's Island, acting as the finale to Little Steven's Hummer-sized Garage Festivus. I retreated from the proximity I enjoyed in order to sing along with the NY Dolls, and moved over from the daylight lawn further back in order to fully absorb the full-on power of the Dictators, with Top Ten temporarily back in the fold. I sat on special people's metal bleachers, vision dark but for the diorama of the stage and rigging and partook of an emotional feast inside the visual Cornell box—and one never so simple. The deepest, richest flavors of mind/body/tone and text. Yes, the Stooges love me. But Iggy didn't have to actually say that between songs. It was quite clear with every Rockin' Action of the Bo Diddley Beat. And that's maybe how it felt in Detroit, too. Maybe that's how it felt in 1970. We'll probably never know, the original quartet being so poorly documented in still or moving picture, on legit or bootleg tape. (Where's the ABC network's Cincinnati Pop Festival DVD? Mountain and Traffic are almost as great as the Stooges—please don't get me started on that huckster Alice Cooper and his sluggish  peons). To witness this DVD is to view a testament. Watt, pridefully reducing and gleaning the extraneous notes from his own predilections (it's a job after all—who asked you to think?), straps on the warm and fuzzy nature of the Alexander  under-pinning in form of a handsomely horned Gibson EB-something bass. I'd prefer he committed to the smoother pulse highlighting of a pick over the plucky digit 'n' fist emotionalism but we all know his heart and feet are in the right place. Ron and Scotty do what they do and do what they've done albeit not outside of time's notice. Gravity's taken some toll on the renowned Detroit swing, and on a purely sonic level the much under-appreciated amp-plugger of the two would be better off supplanting the aluminum foil chewing surf sound of his reissue Danelectro with the cleaner and rounder home-tone Fender of his youth that so famously cemented the cement headed yet lithe riffs of simple wonder that were “TV Eye,” “Down in the Streets,” and the like. Main-boy Ig's got all the moves and the jones and the bones but I sense some little bitsy exasperation; some tiny hopes and fears, and perhaps ultimately anguish, that while being at the top of his game, their top isn't as high. Or maybe it's a different game.

There's some vague dread recognizing the prodigal sun shining too brightly on the thrice-anointed and recalcitrant not-always-doin'-so-wells that are his cousins in rock. Then again, it's a pleasure to hear the classics done at attempted correct tempo and feel, unlike the speed-demon jaunts of historically meddling medleys of an Iggy solo set.

Case in point: the DVD release of Iggy's Target video of yore. This artifact is neither as lit as a better than average 80s Iggy solo show, nor as essential as some of Target's other videos coming back to life on DVD (you really can't beat The Cramps demented mental home soiree). Back then, preceding wallet-stuffing Carnival Cruise and Nike hookups, the Ig went thru players like pissy water, semiannual releases like girlfriends, and shows like hot butter on a steak knife.

The gig documented on this DVD is from a 1981 tour promoting the not so great Party record. Clem Burke's on board doing his admirable and enthusiastic martial take on regulated Moon-ology perfectly fitting with the New Wave aspects of a punky rockin' outfit. Unfortunately, The Mumps' Mike Duprey, while committing dutiful chunky rubber rhythm guitar, is the only of three six stringers the videographers audio feed accessed. Original Blondie bassist, Gary Valentine (presumably active at the time with his own under-known The Know) takes visual only stabs at bright chord chunks under cool necktie and shades. Even more regrettable is the inaudibility of what I'd assume were some wild and out-cast post-Fripperies from hooded iconoclast and Bowie side-man of note, Carlos Alomar.

Here, Stooges songs are leadenly retooled at cocaine tempo; Party tunes are largely forgettable but for the snarky slap and tickle of “Dum Dum Boys” infamously aimed at the Brothers (Asheton or Sales?), and the classic Idiot and Lust for Life “hits” are kinda raucous but unmistakably missing the once in a recorded lifetime perfect-notch of the Hunt 'n' Tony show. And then there's Jim—in heels, stockings, and a piquant little Sylvain-esque cap and a missing front tooth. The small house is packed with SF-styled punters—they're neither too cool, crazed, or sweaty hot like a potential NYC, London, or LA crowd could be. They got better than what they deserved. No matter—it was still Iggy, propelled by Clem and some music from the canon. It shouldn't have only been the lyric mouthing girl up front getting hot and/or bothersome. [Music Video Dist.]

-Dave Rick

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