Thursday, August 25, 2005

Iggy Pop - A Million in Prizes (Virgin, 2005)

Hard to believe that Iggy Pop has been kicking around the music business for almost 40 years (hard to believe he's still alive after all the abuse he's put himself through!) This compilation takes a deep look into Pop's career and finds a lot to admire from this one-time blues drummer turned punk icon. This two disc set kicks off in fine fashion with some classic Stooges tunes like the Ron Asheton fueled "1969" and the epochal "I Want to Be Your Dog." Then things move into the James Williamson era Stooges (all Stooges records are great, but they fall into two categories defined by different lead guitar players) for snarling proto-punk like "Search and Destroy" and "Raw Power."

Iggy left the Stooges in the early 70's and through drink and drugs nearly became the prototype deranged rock and roller. Shepherded into the studio by David Bowie, Pop began his solo career with some overproduced but excellent records like The Idiot and Lust for Life. After his association with Bowie ended, Iggy entered another journeyman phase, putting out inconsistent music that always seemed to have a gem or two buried in it. The real accomplishment of this set is to cherry pick the best tunes from a scattered solo career and present them in a logical way. While I could do without some of his lightweight collaborations with Debbie Harry, most of the tunes are prime Pop.

Iggy reunited with the Ron Asheton era Stooges around 2000 and the two live tracks included here, "T.V. Eye" and "Loose" defy the old notion that you can't go home again. Iggy sounds completely re-energized and the band takes no prisoners. The remaining tracks from his recent solo albums like "Corruption" and "Skull Ring" continue this renaissance - my only regret is the absence of the title track to American Caesar, which is one of the weirdest and wildest things he ever recorded. Regardless, this is an excellent compilation, and anyone interested in this wild man should keep an eye out for it.

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