Or “Touch Me, I’m Sick.”
And I do mean sick.I caught “the last singer left alive” near the tail-end of the timeline preserved here, on a hot August night in 1981 at Ann Arbor’s Second Chance, and the guy was a mess; amphetamine-spiked dental work, barely able to find his ass with both hands and a flashlight let alone entertain his fawning hometown public, looking to scrap with the entire second tier after someone dumped a cup of beer on him as he exited stage left at set’s end, and exhibiting all the class of stained faux-satin bed sheets.
Easy Action have never been adverse to a little dirty work.“Where the Faces Shine” is their third in a series of missions to track down dodgy, unauthorized,and uh, well, let’s just call them what they are – bootlegs – clean them up, wrap them in top-notch packaging, and stamp them with legitimacy, and they’ve quickly carved out a reputation for themselves as conscientious archeologists, compilers, and curators of Murder City relics.They’ve made their bones by anthologizing the James Williamson-era Stooges and Sonic’s Rendezvous Band, both boxes the embodiment of obsessive, compulsive, fanboy music geekdom, packed with cardboard inner sleeves and booklets crammed with a plethora of information, interviews, memorabilia, and photos so you’ll have something to do while your inner ears are reduced to rubble.
This can of worms is no different, devoting one disc each to performances from the years 1977-1981, Iggy trying to find his footing in a post-Stooges world, thunder co-opted by legions of upstarts with punk rock identikits, better publicity, and a groundswell of grass roots support, his headspace alternating between heavily medicated and strung out, trolling through “The Idiot,” “Lust for Life,” “New Values,” “Soldier,” and “Party,” and leaning heavily on the entire Stooges back catalog to fill his set lists.
Disc 1: Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, 3/28/77
Three-quarters of what would eventually morph into Tin Machine - a guy named Bowie playing keyboards in the shadows and the brothers Sales manning the engine room – as well as guitarist Rick Gardiner, turn this set on its ear, despite some dodgy editing, i.e., track fadeouts and silence between tracks.“Jesus?This is Iggy…” he confesses during “Turn Blue,” as if any introduction is necessary.
Disc 2: San Diego State University, 11/16/77
Iggy’s no stranger to college campuses – The Stooges germinated (some would say “festered”) in and around Ann Arbor, Michigan - but this set gets off to a rough start with an ill-advised pass through Them’s “One, Two Brown Eyes” before the steady hands of “Metallic K.O.” survivor Scott Thurston and guitarist Stacey Heydon rein in Soupy’s boys and right the listing U.S.S. Pop.There are what appear to be a few works-in-progress here in the form of the bouncy “Modern Guy” and the portentous “Rock Action,” excuses for Iggy to hash out the lyrics in a live setting (with mixed results).
Disc 3: Domino Club, Stockholm, 5/24/78
The filching of Sonic’s Rendezvous Band to anchor this tour may have not have left Scott Morgan chuffed at being left back in Michigan, but it undoubtedly made Iggy all warm and fuzzy inside knowing that Detroit’s finest (does the name Fred “Sonic” Smith ring a bell?) had his back.Solid if unspectacular set marred by less-than-inspired song choices (“The Endless Sea,” “Curiosity,” “One for My Baby”).
Disc 4: Stardust Ballroom, Los Angeles, 11/30/79
Apparently someone forgot to tell the suburban surf punks crowding the stage not to believe everything they read in the press about proper behavior at an Iggy gig, so he takes several opportunities to set them straight.Old-school Brit punks Brian James and Glen Matlock lead the charge through a set just beginning to ooze and throb with selections from “Soldier” and come up mostly all aces, including a cover of The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me.”
Disc 5: Picadero, Barcelona, 5/15/80
I’ve never been anywhere within spitting distance of Spain, but I imagine it’s pretty hot there around mid-May.This show is pretty hot as well, Iggy shaking away the cobwebs and leading what sounds like a fairly rabid throng and Rob Duprey (guitar), Douglas Bowne (drums), Michael Page (bass), and Ivan Kral (keyboards/guitar) through a round of his own peculiar brand of singalong, good-time proto punk.It was around this time that Iggy made a bizarre appearance on NBC-TV’s “Tomorrow Show,” flashing a gap-toothed grin at host Tom Snyder while semi-coherently explaining Dionysian art, stage monitors, and just what comes over him once the stage lights come up.
Disc 6: Palasport, Bologna, 6/18/81
Let’s face it – no one goes to an Iggy gig hoping to hear “Eggs on Plate,” “Rock and Roll Party,” or “Pumpin’ for Jill,” but the suits at Arista probably insisted on their inclusion in the set list in order to promote the “Party” album then on the racks.The same band staring at his back as Disc 6, plus another slumming Patti Smith Group member (Richard Sohl) thrown into the mix, plow through 17 songs, but only come down with both feet on Stooges terra firma once, er twice, trotting out “Search and Destroy” to open the set and as an encore.
None of what’s here is what those spoiled by virgin vinyl, SACD, or surround sound would classify as an audiophile experience, but it’s all as compelling and morbidly fascinating as rubbernecking a multi-vehicle pile-up on I-75 North the Friday before July 4th weekend.
Simple minds, simple pleasures…