Who’d a thought that 48 years after the release of ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’, 2016 would become Iggy Pop’s biggest year yet. That year is about to get a whole lot bigger with the release of a 3-disc live set, a new memoir and the Jim Jarmusch-directed doc, Gimme Danger, that arrives in theaters this week.
Welcome to Episode 2 of my new POPDOSE series:
Iggy Pop helped invent punk rock while everyone but him seemed to cash in.
With a hit album, a sold-out tour, a 3-disc live set, a documentary, a book, guest appearances, speaking tours and soundtrack contributions — everything’s coming up Iggy in 2016.
Remember a few years back when a cruise line licensed Iggy Pop’s ‘Lust for Life’ for a TV campaign clearly without listening to the lyrics? I felt the hipster cries of “sellout” were absolute bullshit. Everyone from Green Day to 5 Seconds of Summer have co-opted punk and sold it to the masses. Meanwhile, few of those punk purists probably bought albums from the “Godfather of Punk”, but likely had all the classics illegally ripped to their hard drives.
Around the time of the cruise ad, Iggy was still playing clubs while touring solid albums such as Avenue B and Naughty Little Doggie. No matter how small the show, Iggy played as if it was his last concert on Earth. He appreciated anyone who showed up, so much so, he handed one of his beers to me and my friends as we clung to life in the front row as the mosh pit swelled behind us.
Mortality and death were prominent themes on Avenue B, and that was 20 years ago. A Stooges reunion came and went, their deranged clang balanced with quiet and entrancing albums like Préliminaires (2009) and Après (2012). Hurricane Iggy 2016 started as a tropical storm late last year when he contributed vocals to the mesmerizing song, ‘Stray Dog’, on New Order’s comeback LP, Music Complete — and the 2016 remix album, Complete Music. When Pop and Josh Homme announced a collaboration was in the works, thunder rippled around the world.
Post Pop Depression became Iggy Pop’s highest charting album ever in the US. A few one off gigs with Josh Homme, Dean Fertita and Troy Van Leeuwen of Queens of the Stone Age, Matt Helders of Arctic Monkeys and Matt Sweeney (Chavez, Zwan) blossomed into a worldwide tour. He also found time to contribute two tracks to guitarist Hotei’s (Tomoyasu Hotei) new album, and one track to the soundtrack to HBO’s short-lived series, Vinyl.
For most artists, that would make for a year or two of output, but Hurricane Iggy 2016 was steadily building to a Category 5.
Post Pop Depression: Live at the Royal Albert Hall
This week sees the release of Post Pop Depression: Live at the Royal Albert Hall, a 3-disc celebration of one of Iggy’s biggest and best tours yet. You get the full show on vibrant BluRay or DVD, plus the majestically mastered audio spread across two CDs.
Live albums are a mixed bag; for most bands, they are simply record contract filler, especially boring when the song arrangements don’t stray too far from the studio versions, or the band phones it in and sticks to the hits. The best live albums, like Frampton Comes Alive and Cheap Trick @ Budokan, are urgent and compelling snapshots of an artist living in the moment. Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense and Prince’s Sign O’ The Times Live were created primarily for film and became landmarks of both artists’ careers. Post Pop Depression: Live at the Royal Albert Hall ranks high among the best ever concert films, it’s an incredible document of Pop in peak form.
Homme and the band, dressed in elegant red-brocade smoking jackets, are one of the best bands Pop has taken on the road. They bring ferocious energy to Pop classics from his Bowie years. The songs break free of their studio shells to expand and flex and grow and groove, all while staying true to the spirit of the originals. Some of the slower, more menacing new songs act like mortar between the brick wall of hits. Others, such as ‘Gardenia’, ‘Sunday’ and ‘American Valhalla’, establish their place as new additions to Iggy’s greatest hits.
The show roars out of the gate, and before too long, blood is rushing down Iggy’s face. He never blinks or misses a beat and works the crowd relentlessly, from amorous ladies in the front rows to dudes up in the nosebleeds.
The London show was well into the tour, not to mention six decades into his career, and yet, he is truly awed and appreciative of the moment, the response to the new songs and the overall energy from the room. He asks for the house lights to lift so he can drink it all in. Other bands tend to slog through their tours; Iggy savors every moment. Bowie is gone, as are the Asheton brothers and Stooges sax man Steve Mackey, who lived long enough for the 2003 reunion. Iggy is clearly aware that his time on this earth has an expiration date, so he’s having the time of his life.
Should he retire and spend the next 40 or so years relaxing with poetic beauties on a French estate, Post Pop Depression: Live at the Royal Albert Hall is the fitting swan song to an epic career. But I have a feeling, he’s just getting started…
As much as Post Pop Depression celebrates Iggy in the now; he’s also firmly in control of how we look back on his real wild child days. Pop and Jarmusch recently spoke about their new film, Gimme Danger, with The Guardian (read it here).
Iggy recently visited the Red Bull Music Academy, resulting in a wide ranging discussion that is long enough to serve as a secondary full length tribute to his life and career.
As a fitting encore, here are all the tunes we talked about earlier.
Pick up Hotei’s album, Strangers, featuring two tracks by Iggy Pop, on Amazon. Read more about it in our POPDOSE review. Even if Hotei’s name doesn’t ring a bell, you definitely know his music, including one of the most iconic guitar riffs of all time.
And finally, don’t forget the original Post Pop Depression, one of the best albums of 2016.
Be careful when ordering the live set because it appears to be in multiple single and 3-disc formats. I highly recommend the 3-disc version on DVD or BluRay.