Iggy Pop

Live at the Ritz NYC (1986)

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Iggy Pop was in a peculiar position in the mid-'80s. On the one hand, the white heat of excitement that surrounded his reemergence during 1977-1978 had been dissipated not only by time, but also by the succession of the increasingly unconvincing albums he released at decade's end; on the other, he was now so firmly entrenched within the rock & roll furniture that it wasn't even a shock when he scored a hit single, with Blah Blah Blah's recounting of "Real Wild Child." But he still put on a live show that left your jaw on the floor, and though the set list here owes nothing to the increasingly tightrope-like performances he gave in the late '70s, there is no denying the energy and effort involved. For obvious reasons, the newly minted Blah Blah Blah devours the lion's share of the set list. But, woven between the fiery reinventions of a studio set that was just a little too smooth, flashes of past brilliance gleam like the jewels they always were -- "I Got a Right," "Gimme Danger," and "Some Weird Sin" kick things off, "Sister Midnight," "Nightclubbing," and "China Girl" percolate amidships and, if the earliest Stooges are horrifically under-represented, with just one song from the first two albums, the version of "Down on the Street" is compensation regardless. Not a classic Pop live album -- for that, you need the shows that were recorded between 1977-1980, when he was still dancing on the edge of musical survival. But still it's a firm reminder of why he remained important...and why he's still up there today.

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