"Here's the deal, folks. You do a commercial - you're off the artistic roll call, forever. End of story. Okay? You're another whore at the capitalist gang bang and if you do a commercial, there's a price on your head. Everything you say is suspect and every word that comes out of your mouth is now like a turd falling into my drink." - Bill Hicks
Oh Iggy, what happened? Possibly the most feared, revered and ferocious performer in rock n roll is now hawking car insurance alongside an imitation puppet of himself. Whatever reason Iggy has for this isn’t clear and this isn’t the place for the selling out debate, but friend or foe, one must concede that this has tarnished the once untouchable image of Iggy Pop, one of the most iconic figures, well, ever. So his new live album ‘California Hitch-hike’ is approached with a slight sense of trepidation, even though really it shouldn’t be, this album was record thirty plus years ago, but I guess it shows the damage that’s been done. Anyway, recorded in 1979 with Brian James of The Damned on guitar and Glen Matlock of The Sex Pistols on bass, it comprises no members of The Stooges and oddly only one member who was on any of his previous solo records - his last album ‘New values’ - drummer Klaus Kruger. So essentially, a mish-mash of people thrown together for shows with no previous incarnation, it should fail, right? Yes it should, but it doesn‘t by any means, it’s a cacophonic onslaught lead by a rabid and deranged wolf, no doubt foaming at the mouth. TV Eye cut’s through you like an ice pick, it’s sharp, cold and deadly.
The performance is razor sharp in it’s delivery and execution and it’s mixed really well, the guitars penetrate your ear lobes almost relentlessly but hang just low enough in the mix that when that wolf starts to howl, it cuts above everything in what feels like pure unadulterated raw power; seeping from every sweating pore. Some songs benefit better than others, but that’s based more on the strength of current material rather than the performance itself. Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell is brutal and pulverising, I Wanna Be Your Dog makes you long to be transported back to that venue at that place and have your face taken off. Finishing on No Fun it’s an apocalyptic ending, and a stark reminder of how brutally good this man could be. For the almost hour and a half length of the record you forgot all about 2010 Iggy, because 1979 Iggy doesn’t as much demand your attention, as kidnaps it.