by Tom Hallett
Hey, gang—more CD and DVD reviews for ya, as we rush head-long into thunderstorm season ... this week we’ll check out some great new DVDs from a couple of punk/alternative legends. Awright, then—no time to talk, cuz we gotta rock ...
Live San Fran 1981
(Target Video/MVD, 1983)
Where were you on the evening of November 25th, 1981? You may not recall; you may choose not to recall; you may, in fact, have not yet even been born. You know who else probably doesn’t remember where he was that night? If you said Stooges founder/punk godfather James “Iggy Pop” Osterberg, give yourself a red star and march immediately to the principle’s office.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Listen—it’s a dangerous time for
songwriters in that a monkey can make a thing sound good now ... things sound
better than they ever have. But I don’t know that there’s more content
in stuff.” — Randy Newman
SONG OF THE WEEK: “What Are You?” — Bonnie “Prince”
Billy & Matt Sweeney
sure you know the way, you wonderful little deviant, you. Meanwhile, for the
rest of the class, a brief back-history: Iggy Pop is kinda like the character
Christopher Lloyd played on the ‘70s TV sitcom “Taxi.” You
remember Jim “Iggy” Ignatowski, don’t ya? He was the cat who
came to college as a highly intelligent, straight-laced heir to a fortune, and
left as a drooling, shell-shocked dope casualty after sampling an errant tray
of hash brownies. Well, that same kinda thing apparently happened to Iggy Pop,
although in the beginning his only drug was high energy rock ‘n’
roll. As the drummer for the Detroit-area band The Iguanas, young Jim Osterberg
was fresh from a run at high school class president, wore the fuzzy sweaters
of academics and poets, and represented the most ambitious of his neighborhood
Somewhere between 1965 and 1968, though, he underwent a massive chemical and
physical transmogrification. By the time he’d dumped the drum stool and
minor political aspirations in favor of a ratty microphone, long hair and the
nickname “Iggy,” after his former band, he was barely recognizable.
Eventually hooking up with fellow delinquents Ron and Scott Asheton (and a
few other memorable characters along the way), he helped pave the way for the
coming punk rock movement. With his deceptively simple lyrics and the Asheton
brothers’ almost primitive musical assault, the band cut through the pomp
and artifice of the era’s rapidly-bloating hippie/jam movement. Though
they would eventually implode (partially due to a complete lack of interest
in that style of music from the record-buying public, but also because the boys
in the band began to seriously live out the subject matter of their raw, self-destructive
songs), The Stooges remain one of the prime templates for early American punk.
And now (as Paul Harvey would say) the rest of the story: The Asheton brothers
temporarily went AWOL (though The Stooges recently reformed and toured, with
Minuteman co-founder Mike Watt taking up bass duties), the Ig-ster went on to
a long and storied solo career, and drug abuse was about the only constant he
would experience over the next few decades or so. Along the way, he met David
Bowie, who took him under his wing. He also fully embraced his feminine side;
sliced, slashed and slathered himself during live performances to appease his
vicious inner demons and beloved audiences; and released a treasure trove of
singles and album cuts. By this 1981 show—drugs or no drugs—Iggy
had his live act honed to a fine edge, and his backing band was at the top of
Touring for the album Party, this outfit (Blondie drummer Clem Burke,
future David Bowie guitarist Carlos Alomar, axe men Gary Valentine and Rob Duprey,
and bassist Mike Page) was a lean, mean, rockin’ machine. Absolutely nailing
both classic Stooges material (“1969,” “T.V. Eye”) and
Iggy gems (“Lust For Life,” “Rock & Roll Party”),
these cats almost made you forget about the Asheton brothers. I said almost.
But hey, when your lead singer is Iggy Stooge—a rock legend wearing eye
shadow, a short leather skirt, a biker cap and black stockings, who looks like
he’d rather be wrapping his riding crop around some tender young throat
than prowling a dark stage with you, well, you damn well better play like your
ass is on fire, pal. A great slice of rock history, even though the image of
Iggy in that get-up minus his two front teeth will likely haunt me to my grave.
Another reason why this man will never really be the world’s forgotten
boy. Check it out at MusicDistributors.com.
Greatest Hits DVD
(Warner Music/Rhino Home Video, 2005)
aspiring music journalist to cutting edge rock queen to single mom to world-wise
record biz survivor, Ohio native Chrissie Hynde has consistently proved that
with a little sweat and blood and a whole lotta talent, the only true barriers
for women in rock lie inside of their own hearts and heads. She hob-nobbed with
some of punk’s most dangerous (and mostly deceased, these days) characters,
had children with two famous rock stars (Ray Davies of The Kinks and Jim Kerr
of Simple Minds), lost two original band members to drug overdoses, and managed
to come through it all still a powerful force to be reckoned with.
This video compilation stays fairly true to the original vinyl release of
The Pretender’s Greatest Hits, with a few updates and treats thrown
in for good measure. Even if you’ve seen some of these vids a few hundred
times (“Brass In Pocket” certainly got its share of MTV exposure
back in the day), it’s still a real hoot to have them all collected in
one place. The early footage might be a little cheesy (through no fault of the
band), but it’s still great to both hear and see classics like “Message
Of Love,” “Kid,” “Talk Of The Town,” “Stop
Your Sobbing,” “Middle Of The Road,” and “Thin Line
Between Love And Hate.” By the time the haunting first notes of “Back
On The Chain Gang” ring out, you’ll have no doubts as to why you
always loved this band. “No Turn Left Unstoned,” a cool, 45-minute
documentary on the history of The Pretenders tops the whole delish mish-mash
off in style. If you’ve ever wondered what impression Chrissie made on
her contemporaries and other stars, here’s both the dish and the dirt.
Interview clips with Nick Lowe, Bono, Kate Pierson and Lemmy reveal that, despite
any personal differences she may have had with folks along the way, Chrissie
Hynde is held in the highest regard with respect to her singing, songwriting
and performing talents. A sometimes sad but ultimately triumphant, honest, absolutely
REAL portrait of a great rocker and the band that stood behind her.
Gotta hang up the r&r shoes for this week, kiddies. Tune in again, same
time, same space, for more of the same. Until then—make yer own damn news.
If you have local music news/gigs/events/CDs you’d
like to see mentioned in this space, or you just know of a good balm for a humidity
rash, send replies to: Tmygunn777@peoplepc.com.