shot myself upIf 1977 was the year Iggy Pop presented his professional face to the American public, it was really by a matter of degrees. Think about what constituted Mainstream USA back then and ask if it was ready for Iggy, even in the guise of a clean-living and professional working stiff? The question’s rhetorical so don’t bother answering.

The Iggy that Americans saw (those who took notice) is captured on “Shot Myself Up”, a made-for-radio recording captured live in a studio on Pop’s ’77 tour of his homeland.

With David Bowie mentoring him and a debut solo record (“The Idiot”) under his belt, Iggy assembled a band that would lend his songs the professionalism that would make him acceptable to “industry” tastemakers. Bowie assigned his own guitar sideman Ricky Gardiner to the team and signed himself on as low-key keyboardist. Importantly, Bowie and the Ig employed a killer engine room in Hunt and Tony Sales, so the outfit rocked.

Iggy circa ’77 was a different performer to the barely coherent, smack-shambles of three years earlier and it surprised many that he was still alive. The element of danger the Stooges in their various guises brought to the songs went missing, replaced by a barely contained rage with the attendant energy sharply focussed.

“Shot Myself Up” was previously available as a bootleg called “Live at The Mantra”, named after the Chicago studio in which it was recorded. There’s no audience apart from the engineers and crew - it’s Iggy and band laying down their live set in a somewhat sterile setting. It isn’t however, a drag on the performance. The re-mastering job is an advance on the original.

The set’s heavy on Stoogemusic (eight of the 12 songs) and that would be a familiar live template right up until Ig and the Ashetons re-grouped in the ’00s. The band puts its own spin on the songs, of course, with Bowie’s keys and backing vocals notably prominent. Safety nets are absent but nobody’s on a tightrope this time out.

If you’re a dyed-in-the-wool Stoogefan you may need to suspend your prejudices to enjoy the re-interpretations. “Dirt” really stretches out and is the pick. “I Need Somebody” sounds suitably lecherous and strung out. “Dog” also has a keen bite. Then-current compositions “Turn Blue”, “China Girl”, “Funtime” and “Sister Midnight” make up the balance and don’t suffer by comparison. Gardiner is competent without emulating or approaching the heights of Ron Asheton or James Williamson. Hear the stilted “Search and Destroy” to know this is true.

The point here is that you’ve heard versions of these songs on the RCA contractual obligation “TV Eye” album from the same tour. It was a bombastic, tossed-off record that probably doesn’t find its way onto the turntable very often. “Shot Myself Up”shits all over it.

For course it wouldn’t be an Easy Action release without added extras and there are four alternative mixes of “The Idiot” tracks as well as dissonant TV recordings of “Funtime” and “Sister Midnight”. Slimline wallet packaging and a succinct Ken Shimamoto essay are cream.

It's probably most suitable for the fans and an ideal companion to the 4-CD "1977" set from the same label.


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