Review Summary: As the final collaboration between Iggy Pop and David Bowie, “TV Eye Live 1977” serves to capture the moment for an influential duo at a critical juncture.
By 1977, the career of Iggy Pop had just about seen it all; with the exception of commercial success. From the garage rock roots of his seminal proto-punk group, The Stooges, to the release of the genre-founding, punk rock assault displayed upon reformed Iggy & The Stooges' album, Raw Power
- all this prior to finding himself deep in the trenches of heroin addiction and a self-imposed admission to an LA loony bin. Down and out, Iggy's situation looked bleak, with nothing left, save the talent and ambition that would land him back in the loving graces of career savior, David Bowie, and his 1976 Isolar
tour of Europe. This excursion would result in the two holed up in Berlin, where they'd collaborate and record what could be considered the strongest work of both of their iconic careers: Iggy Pop's The Idiot
and Lust for Life
albums, as well as David Bowie's “Berlin Trilogy” of Low, Heroes,
When the time had come to fulfill a contractual obligation to RCA, Iggy would take a large cash advance from the label, pocket the vast majority of it, and head back to Berlin with Bowie to assemble a passable live album on a small allowance. Culled from soundboard tapes derived from his 1977 tour (in which Bowie would accompany his protege on keyboards and background vocals), the two would master Iggy's first official live recording, TV Eye Live 1977
. Reception for the record was far greater negative than positive, with complaints varying from poor sound quality to failure to capture and bottle the true spirit of Iggy's fabled stage antics and passion. While these critiques may hold weight, they do not justify passing on this unique opportunity to listen in on a legend in full stride. Eight hard punches to the face, the live renditions on TV Eye Live 1977
often improve upon their studio counterparts.
With a raw, primal scream and one of the most prominent riffs to ever kick its way out of a Stooges song, Iggy tears into a brutal rendition of title track, “TV Eye.” “You gotta stomp on it, bitch!,”
Iggy demands, before taking his men into battle with an assault on those in attendance. Perhaps not quite as raucous or unrestrained a rendition as you could have witnessed in person during the prime of Iggy's wild years, the performance is looser and drives faster than the studio version. With this record featuring the only official live recordings of any Stooges songs to that point or long after, the live version of "TV Eye"
contained here could be considered the best available – if you're in it for the rough stuff; and if you're a fan of Iggy Pop, you'd most likely prefer him kick you in the teeth as hard as possible than go easy. A second attack is launched in Sixteen
, another example of the live version fighting harder and doing more damage than the original. “I must be hungry / 'Cause I go crazy / Over your leather boots!”
Iggy is possessed and the guitars are on a rampage. The song is a thrashing animal, turned loose on the delinquents fortunate enough to have bared witness. A third instance of the live version laying a beating on the original can be found in the Stooges epic, ”Dirt”
. Stripping away the psychedelia from the 1970 version and replacing it with pure angst and grit, the track can be unnerving, yet incredibly satisfying when sharing in its sentiment. Mid-way through the third minute, the song reaches heights previously unexplored, adding an entire new verse, more atmospheric and desolate than the one that came before it.
Aside from featuring pronounced backing vocals from David Bowie, “Lust For Life”
doesn't go anywhere the original hadn't already been. Stooges track “I Got a Right”
also lacks any sort of distinguishing quality, but doesn't do any kind of damage to the set either. “Nightclubbing”
gets a German makeover, lyrically, which gives it a unique “Berlin-era” feel – but runs out of steam as it draws past five minutes. These setbacks, along with the abbreviated track listing, keep the album out of classic territory, but the collection as a whole is highly enjoyable, vintage-era Godfather of Punk. Nearly everything Iggy Pop had his name attached to up through his two Bowie produced albums was forged from gold. This album marks the official end of that golden era - but everything contained within still shines a reflecting glow, this included.