Iggy Pop: Lust For Life

Iggy Pop: Lust For Life (2008)
ABC Entertainment

It's taken a punk and metal revival to uncork the once-elusive truth that the Ramones (whom this writer adores with his very heart) and the Sex Pistols were not the inventors of punk rock, but rather the MC5 and of course, Iggy and The Stooges.

It's enough the colossal garbage riffs purged from Ron Asheton's guitars provided the catalyst for prospect distortion bombers, but as frontman for The Stooges, the rail-thin yet street Adonis-chiseled Iggy Pop endowed a lanky charisma for all who followed in his gyrating wake.

When a vocalist is said to throb behind a microphone, undoubtedly Iggy Pop serves as the prototype, given his dexterous gesticulations, bodily smearing and cutting, onstage nudity and post-Morrison swooning. If Jim Morrison was The Lizard King, then James Newell Osterberg, Jr. is ideally The Iguana as has been his tag since fronting a band of similar name prior to The Prime Movers and ultimately The Stooges. As Iggy Pop, he has decidedly assumed an anti-pop stance yelping out The Stooges' halcyon "I Wanna Be Your Dog," much less "Down On the Street" or "T.V. Eye" from their landmark "Fun House" album or even later in his solo career with his calling card single "Lust For Life." There's something always tuneful about Iggy's music yet subliminally smarmy. All part of the man's charm as an extreme performer and underground personality.

"Lust For Life" is a German documentary originally filmed in 1986 during the release of Iggy Pop's "Blah Blah Blah" album and the success of his sex-driving cover of "Real Wild One." At this point sporting a flappy bowl do ala Moe Howard of The Three Stooges (whom Iggy originally contacted for the latter's blessing in the early days), Iggy is featured as a bobbing and bouncing alt rock guru gallivanting with less shock value to an assumedly sold-out European crowd. Having already been a part of David Bowie's traveling ensemble and eventual co-collaborator, the enigmatic Iggy had become a master showman always on the hair's edge of detonating into his mike even when devoid of the bombastic Stooge dissonance instigating his live shenanigans. As one of the first performers in rock history to stage dive, Iggy's contained shimmying in the mid-eighties was sort of antithesis to his character yet very much on-par with it. Having battled drug addiction in the midst of a doomed Stooges collapse, Iggy Pop's road tracks were borne on his body as much as the highways from his routine travel. Perhaps he was thus due a break from the swift insanity of his previous life.

At 41 minutes, "Lust For Life" makes its point in a hurry and still leaves room for live footage of a mid-eighties Iggy wailing through "T.V. Eyes" as well as his solo material including a starchy and barely interesting version of the title song. However, what is worth watching "Lust For Life," considering it changes to German narration (bone up on your Deutsch quickly if you want to keep up) in the latter portion for is the stories delivered by Iggy himself, as well as some faintly-audible recollections and riff demonstrations from the late Ron Asheton.

It's cool to see a lucid Iggy talk about forming The Stooges while getting visually excited hearing his band emanating through a hand recorder during the interview segments. Clearly the passion for The Stooges—which split up originally under the massive weight of drug abuse—lurked greatly enough to bring the posse back together for a recent multi-year drag on the road in addition to their 2007 "reunion" album, "The Weirdness."

Those caught up in the furor over recent Stooges activity will want to be present for this DVD as Iggy talks about his differing personae (and vocal pitches) as lead singer to a band nobody gave two nickels' worth of interest during their original run. Now as much a celebrated enigma as the aforementioned Ramones and MC5, Iggy and The Stooges are mentioned fashionably by today's punk revivalists. These youthful bucks and the older guard will take joy in watching a younger Iggy slither onstage while Ron Asheton testifies to the haunts The Stooges originally played at. Also taking the viewer to the house where The Stooges crashed for inspiration and substance consumption whilst basking in the axis-sparkled genius of Jimi Hendrix will likewise appeal to fans.

Though "Lust For Life" could've gone on longer with the addition of bonus materials, the whole thing is at least validated when Iggy talks about how The Velvet Underground, Chicago bluesmen and industrial factory noise served as his greatest inspirations (hence the gratuitous vacuum and blender ersatz in the The Stooges' earliest work) en route to a legendary career, one that is reportedly destined to continue without Ron Asheton. Call it a sham or a lust for something larger than life, The Stooges have at last enjoyed their comeuppance.