Iggy Pop

Iggy & Ziggy: Cleveland '77

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In 1976, Iggy Pop had hit bottom after the messy breakup of the Stooges and he needed help, and when friend and fan David Bowie offered to lend him a hand, he was smart and grateful enough to accept. Bowie produced Iggy's first solo album, The Idiot, and after Iggy set up a tour to promote the record, Bowie put together the band and tagged along as their keyboard player. Bowie's presence insured a larger audience than Iggy had attracted during the grim final days of his band, and he was determined to prove he could deliver the goods without making a spectacle of himself or collapsing into a drug-sodden heap on-stage. Unfortunately, anyone familiar with Iggy's body of work knows the last thing you want from one of his live shows is a professional-sounding performance without a sense of danger, and unfortunately, that's what the audience got during this March 21, 1977 show in Cleveland, OH, part of a three-night stand Iggy and the band would perform at the Agora Ballroom. Iggy & Ziggy: Cleveland '77 finds Iggy in fine voice, and at a time when he had a lot to prove, he leaves no doubt he was a solid musician and showman, singing with a sense of control and dynamics he couldn't approach with the Raw Power-era Stooges. However, Iggy also seems clearly afraid to push this material too far, and the caution robs the songs (nine of which are drawn from the Stooges' songbook) of much of their life force. Even worse, guitarist Ricky Gardiner doesn't seem to know what to do with the Stooges material -- he's at least as skillful as Ron Asheton or James Williamson, but his attack is so toothless and polite that he reduces some of the greatest rock songs ever to mush. (Bowie's keyboards are not nearly as ill-advised but they don't fit the old material very well, though Hunt Sales and Tony Sales are a great rhythm section who do what they can to give Iggy the energy he needs.) Some of the material from this show also appeared on Iggy's lamentable live album TV Eye Live, and while the sound quality is better on this release and the songs work better in their original context, only fans grimly determined to find and collect every semi-authorized Iggy Pop live album in existence should go out of their way to listen to this. (This same concert was also released in 1999 on the album Sister Midnight [Live at the Agora].)

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