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Iggy Pop: Lust for Life
Mention the name Jim Osterberg to people, and more often than not, you'll get a mix of "Huh?" or maybe a confused music fan will say "the guy who sang in the Replacements?" Mention Jim's stage name Iggy Pop though, and those same faces brighten up, because they've got an opinion on him, and are preparing to give it to you. "He's crazy!" "Didn't he rub peanut butter on himself during a concert?" Like the music or not, one can't help but respect and recognize what he did as a performer that connected with every person that went to a concert.
Osterberg, along with guitarist Ron Asheton, Ron's brother Dave (who played drums) and bassist Dave Alexander formed The Stooges. The band served as an early voice to counter the psychedelic rock of the late '60s. Their second album Fun House is cited by many in the American punk rock scene as their touchstone album, the one that got them into music. For others, it was a segue into the punk scene of the '70s, when British bands like Generation X and The Sex Pistols provided lyrics soaked in cynicism and personas that were brash and bratty. But by the time the Pistols came and shocked the world, Osterberg was submerged into the Iggy persona himself. And Iggy was becoming more and more dependent on heroin to the point where he was intolerable to deal with. Despite the release of another excellent album in "Raw Power", the band decided that Iggy was too much to handle.
Iggy eventually cleaned up and, with the help of friend David Bowie, found his creative legs again, with albums like "New Values" and "Blah Blah Blah" restoring some luster to the star. Iggy's "Lust For Life" song, released way back in 1977, found new life in the film Trainspotting, and he's gradually returned to prominence, even reuniting with the Ashetons (Mike Watt of the Minutemen filled in for Alexander, who died in 1975) for a new Stooges album and tour. Ron unfortunately died in January of 2009, but the boys don't appear to be stopping.
This particular documentary was done in 1986, when Iggy was back in New York, and in pretty good health. Shot for German television, it features loads of interview footage with Iggy and Ron Asheton, and the two talk about growing up and playing music together, and their influences at the time. They also share their thoughts about why Iggy and Ron aren't The Stooges by the time, and it's interesting, but by that point, the feature is over. The Germans spend some extended time on Iggy's performances and the songs the band plays, along with some of the band's influences. Which is fine, but in a documentary on The Stooges that's just over 40 minutes long, the focus should be on, you know, the Stooges, rather than the first verse and chorus from a Hendrix song.
The piece isn't all that special, and when you consider that there's been some much needed closure to the open Stooges arc, with the record, tour, the excellent Paul Trynka book on Iggy titled "Open Up and Bleed" and now a biopic on Iggy's life all in the works, there's much better material to peruse than this. While dated pieces like this are a snapshot of what occurred at the time, the Germans involved with this quick production didn't even spend the time to focus the camera.The Disc:
Full frame with some cheesy production graphics at the start before things kick in. Iggy's eyes have a slightly vivid shade of blue, even in the '80s, but this looks like any other television special that would have been burned to a disc.Audio:
Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo work, but the levels are kind of screwy (the interviews are MUCH weaker than the music) and you can subject yourself to an occasional jolt. One thing about this little documentary/television special; if you're going to release a Region 0 DVD with material produced in another country, subtitles would be good. What little narration was done without them, which sucked.Extras:
Zippy skippy.Final Thoughts:
While I like the footage of Ron Asheton discussing his time as a Stooge and playing music with "King Stooge," if you will, let's call Lust For Life what it is; a cash grab which is attempting to capitalize on Asheton's death by releasing this footage for die-hard Stooges fans. Go read the book or buy the albums to get a better look at Asheton's life and work, not to mention the work of one of the most influential bands in the last 40 years.