Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Iggy And The Stooges—
Metallic K.O.


Released 1976 on Skydog/Import
The Seth Man, December 2003ce
The tenacity of The Stooges saw them survive a break up in 1971 and then an extended period of enforced inactivity at MainMan’s behest as the aforementioned management art was concentrating all their star-making energies into David Bowie’s career. By early 1974, The Stooges had been long dropped by MainMan and without a record contract, soldiered on as a slightly different unit from the one that cut “Raw Power.” With additional member Scott Thurston on barroom piano and harmonica, the new material showed a different approach that reflected the catalyst that happened under the influence of supersnazz guitarist James Williamson and his guitar stance that cut into the riffs, moves and attitude of then-contemporaneous Stones tracks. Undermining their earlier tunnel-vision repetitions that made their Elektra LPs so vitally visceral, the final, ’74 model Stooges kept the angst of those records but dropped ‘em into a vat of vagrancy, boredom, and sleaze. One listen to “Metallic K.O.” shows why The Stooges called it quits: short of surgically incising his midsection and hanging himself from the rock’n’roll stage with his own entrails for a final encore, there was nothing left to do but remove himself from the locked groove of booz’n’drugs’n’gig’n’motelrooms’n’cheapfucks’n’onstageviolence and quit outright to just to keep himself alive.

“Metallic K.O.” is a document of the last stop on Iggy’s self-described ‘vodka tour’ as The Stooges ground to a halt soon afterwards. A soundtrack of true misbehaviour, the sound quality of “Metallic K.O.” ain’t zackly up to Mobile Sound Fidelity Labs standards (its source a borrowed cassette never returned to the Ron Asheton archives) as the sonic balance favouring Iggy’s vocals, Ron Asheton’s bass guitar and Scott Asheton’s bass drum. The result is a bottom heavy collision of sound that verges into a midrange clattering din at times. But as the performance burns and seers its way unchallenged through all the distressed sonic imbalances of the recording, I ain’t complaining one bit because “Metallic K.O.” is a gutsy and crazy live album.

Faced by an audience with hostile elements, the set opens with slamming speed through the machine-like piston pump of “Raw Power” with all the decorum of a biker gang bang and for the rest of the album is an agonising succession of sloppy seconds, thirds and fourths while topped off by a fifth of liquor and pills until it’s clear that despite running on fumes, The Stooges are still willfully putting the pedal to the metal: Ron Asheton’s bass is a swamping mass of perfectly calculated runs, brother Scott is a mean machine chipping out rhythms in the engine room, Scott Thurston’s piano accompaniment plays counterpoint like a low rent Nicky Hopkins banging away as though the only way to keep up with these hooligans while Williamson peels off a wad of solos throughout the show that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that this acne-scarred juvenile delinquent Spock to Ig’s Captain Kirk is truly on a phaser stun gun burn that was one of the very best what ever graced the rock’n’roll stage that year...Or any year, for that matter. And Iggy reigns supreme over the whole monstrous mess with pleading, cajoling and insults to the audience. Who respond back with insults, eggs and later: beer bottles.

“Head On” is a new number the dum-dum boys were still working up in live performance. A banged out introduction soon steps down into a repeated “L.A. Woman” riff perforated by Scott Thurston’s strident piano accenting, Scott Asheton’s muffled though pounded-out drums over Iggy’s autobiographical wail of: “I was born in a trailer camp/Days were cold/Nights were damp/Incubator baby, I was half-alive/I’ve been eatin’ lots of shit and jive!” The music hangs behind the veil of the “L.A. Woman” riff until Iggy builds up to screaming out the title, causing the backing to jolt upwards with it. There’s a fantastic Ronald Frank Asheton bass solo, with bro Scotty joining in heavy on the toms until Iggy cues his cohorts with a “LOOK OUT!” to re-commence right back into the tear-ass, storming intro. Whoa. After the smoke clears, “Gimme Danger” opens with Iggy getting into the first of many verbal fisticuffs with the audience, proclaiming The Stooges to be “the hardest working band in the business...I don’t care if we’re the best.” What then unfurls a completely different take on “Gimme Danger,” as Ron’s amazingly felt out bass lines provides a backing canvas for the real Iggy to wriggle out from under his skin to re-connect for an instant with his true, unflagging spirit of LIFE:


“I wanna be loved...
Special way...
I wanna be loved...
More than every day...
More than any life!
With no LIES!!!
I wanna trust you...
Touch me...
And love me
Love me! Love me, feel me and touch me!!!
I need! I need! I need!
I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it.
I want to be touched.
No matter what happens...”


The original version of “Metallic K.O.” failed to include a brilliant run-through of “Search And Destroy” that is just as ear to the hammering, power plant dynamo piston-pumper as “Raw Power” only with the added bonus of the fantastic ‘did-he-really-sing-that-line-out-loud-oh-he-did-fuck-that’s-weird’ line: “I play for you and half and the police/I play for you/And uh, got no grease...” I’ve pondered that line for over two decades now, and it still paralyses my mind. Makes me question everything like a koan or sumpthin’. Also makes me wanna break some windows tonight. Fuck: ‘got no grease’?!!! WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT MEAN: “got no grease”?!!! Oh, it’s so great, I don’t care. ‘Specially seeing as Iggy’s in no short supply of viscosity here, it’s a marvel his clothes just didn’t shimmy right off his bod at the onset. “Heavy Liquid” ensues with an introductory 4 year old spazz drum beat, pulverising as hell and falling away into predominate bass drum footing. Scott Thurston’s backing vocals from behind the chipped piano with one broken leg even drowns out Iggy’s by virtue of the soundboard mix. It’s a retardedly ramshackled take on “Brown Sugar” and those vocals nearly drown out the ragingly insistent backing. It shifts rhythmically with Iggy’s “Uh oh!” into a “Gimme Some Skin” uncontrollably fever-pitched, breakneck bridge. Then they dive back into the previous “Brown Sugar” stylings. As ladies in the audience call to see his dick, cock and balls, Iggy renders a short, sweet and sarcastic spoken rendition of “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” After insulting another member of the audience, “Open Up And Bleed” enters as the slowest number of the whole album, opening wounds until a spin-off into the desperately driven “I Got Nothing,” with Iggy lashing out at the humdrum of existence’s down time all bored and frustrated.

The final side is a sideways slide into the sleaze gutter, beginning with “Rich Bitch.” It’s the loosest track of the pack, and that’s saying somethin’, Mister. The air is thick with projectiles now, and the track is constantly idling as the band waits for Iggy to keep them on track and come back from baiting the audience. With a “One, two...FUCK YOU, PRICKS!!!” The Stooges blaze through “Cock In My Pocket” in all its light speed powerdrive of dirtball sleaze that burns like a motherfucker out of control. It’s crazy.

I want to break more windows tonight. After several eggs get heaved at Iggy, a bottle audibly breaks near a microphone. Famously, they retaliate with a vicious pile-driving reading of that hoariest of frat rockers, “Louie, Louie” which closes the show and the album...And for their efforts, are rewarded with a couple chucked bottles of Strohs.


Note:
Although October 6, 1973 is listed as the date for half of the expanded “Metallic K.O.x2”, I think the whole shebang is from the final show of February 9, 1974. Consider this: there are no overlapping tracks, the recording levels match in crud fidelity while Iggy’s in-between song banter would seem to indicate it’s coming from the same performance. Plus, there’s some joker in the audience with a car horn who keeps firing it off as Iggy addresses his assembled multitude, right before “Gimme Danger,” “Heavy Liquid” and “Open Up And Bleed”: tracks whose origins are dated as being from both October and February. Ah, just slap it on and play it loud and you won’t care.