Category: Iggy Pop

Live review: Iggy, Stooges stay in attack mode

Back on his feet, the wild man punches out proto-punk classics at the Palladium.

Live review: Iggy, Stooges stay in attack mode

It says everything about Iggy Pop that in an age of wireless technology he still opts for a microphone with a cord. The choice led to some serious inconveniences Thursday night at the Hollywood Palladium, where Iggy & the Stooges played the first show of a brief West Coast tour.

The 64-year-old frontman was shadowed by a cable wrangler whose job was to collect the slack created every time Iggy Pop dived into the audience; it fell to this guy, too, to prevent the cord from tripping up the 100 or so fans who joined the Stooges onstage during “Shake Appeal.” (“Occupy Hollywood!” Iggy Pop had shouted by way of instruction.) Are roadies entitled to hazard pay? The cable wrangler, his shirt tucked business-mindedly into his jeans, made a strong argument for it.

Iggy Pop's use of the tether didn't signal any kind of old-school chauvinism; it wasn't wrapped up in ideas about the superior sound of vintage equipment. The singer works this way because he understands his role as an essentially theatrical one, and he knows that theater requires conflict.

So there was the microphone, straining against (but somehow never breaking free from) whatever it was plugged into. And there were Iggy Pop's pants, inching down (but somehow never slipping off) his ropy, parenthesis-shaped form. And, of course, there was the Stooges' music, which for 72 minutes kept threatening to veer off-course and collapse into a heap of riff and beat. It never did.

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Iggy Pop on 'American Idol': Still magnetic, still disturbing the American populace with 'Real Wild Child'


Thursday night on "American Idol," Iggy Pop managed to shock enough of the American populace that it's still discussing it the next morning, even though the song he performed, "Real Wild Child," isn't one of his hardest, weirdest or most obnoxious. It's more like Alan Vega lite, a little rockabilly-ish ditty with those hard early-'90s drums, a cheesy organ line and, in the video, the Igster sporting a black dye job. But Thursday night he managed to earn a standing ovation not only from the crowd, but from the judges, the contestants and, apparently, a large part of the viewership.

But Iggy's always good for some spectacle, and more than four decades into his career -- he's 63 years old, believe it or not --  something about him is still enthralling and dangerous. Hopefully some of the less magnetic potential Idols were taking notes: as in, "when in doubt up on stage, act crazy and shimmy around on the stage."


Redefining 'classic' Iggy Pop

Shocking elimination on 'American Idol'

Iggy Pop and Stooges add life to the Hall of Fame induction ceremony

-- Randall Roberts

Photo: Iggy Pop on the 'American Idol' stage. Credit: Fox

Copyright debate erupts over documentary on Cuckoo's Nest punk club

Cuckoos Nest Ramones-Jerry Roach “We Were Feared,” the new documentary chronicling the fractious tale of Orange County’s celebrated punk rock club the Cuckoo’s Nest, may need to be retitled “We Were Litigated.”

On the eve of Sunday’s scheduled Newport Beach Film Festival premiere of the hour-long doc, Cuckoo’s Nest owner Jerry Roach and the film company, Endurance Pictures, find themselves caught up in a tussle over legal ownership of some of the vintage footage of the wild and woolly scene at the Costa Mesa club in the late-‘70s and early –‘80s, before it was shut down by local authorities.

Not long after  it closed, Roach produced a short documentary called “Urban Struggle: The Battle of the Cuckoo’s Nest.” This week, the director of that film, Paul Young, issued a claim that he owns the copyright on the “Urban Struggle” material, some of it featuring Roach interviewing musicians and club-goers at his establishment.

Roach says that Young, who was a student at Orange Coast College when he was recruited to help make the film, worked on “Urban Struggle” for credit toward his film studies, and that as that film’s producer, Roach holds the copyright on “Urban Struggle.”

So far, Roach and Endurance Pictures officials say they haven’t seen the documents that might provide the basis for Young’s claim. “I have no idea when he copyrighted this or what he copyrighted, but he has nothing with my signature,” Roach says. Young could not be reached for comment.

“We Were Feared” director and co-producer Jonathan Mills told The Times on Tuesday: “We are hoping to negotiate a resolution with Paul. Lawyers are involved. As it stands I’m quite devastated as I’ve spent the last two years putting together a film that now stands never to be released, or at least not released this weekend. It’s all rather disheartening.”

“We Were Feared,” also includes film and archival photos of performances at the Cuckoo’s Nest by the Ramones, Iggy Pop, the Circle Jerks, TSOL and numerous other punk acts of the time, as well as contemporary interviews with some members of those bands, former club-goers and others, including this reporter, who was assigned to covering pop music in Orange County for The Times during that period.

The new film is slated to premiere on Sunday and screen again on Tuesday.

--Randy Lewis

Photo of the Ramones with Jerry Roach, second from right, circa 1978 at the Cuckoo's Nest. Credit: Endurance Pictures

Cuckoo's Nest film 'We Were Feared' revisits early '80s O.C. punk scene

Cuckoo's Nest exterior

Longtime followers of the Southern California punk rock scene should well remember the Cuckoo’s Nest, one of the key punk clubs of the late '70s and early '80s and one of the few places a punk band could find a paying gig.

The Cuckoo's Nest and its colorful owner, Jerry Roach, are the focus of a new documentary, "We Were Feared," that's slated for a pair of screenings at the upcoming Newport Beach Film Festival. The club hosted touring acts including the Ramones, Iggy Pop and David Johansen and Southland stalwarts such as Black Flag, Fear, the Circle Jerks, the Vandals and TSOL during its brief three-year life as a punk rock haven. It closed in 1981 following ongoing disputes with neighbors and city officials who objected to leather-jacketed, spiky haired kids with tattoos who frequented the club.

Full disclosure: As a writer assigned to covering pop music in Orange County for The Times starting in 1981, I covered the Cuckoo's Nest regularly and was one of many sources interviewed by the makers of "We Were Feared," although I haven't seen the film yet. 

One of my most vivid memories of the wild nights of slam dancing and stage diving I witnessed at the Cuckoo's Nest was at a show headlined by Fear. I was milling around the concrete floor in front of the battle-scarred stage waiting for the band to go on when a firm hand clamped down on my shoulder. An ominous-looking guy with an equally ominous-sounding voice said, "Are you Randy Lewis? Lee Ving wants to see you."

Immediately I started wondering whether something I'd written earlier in the week about the group's upcoming show had angered the group's volatile lead singer. Instead, when I found Ving backstage, he was all smiles and simply wanted to thank me for giving the group some attention in The Times. The sigh of relief I let out is probably still hovering somewhere over Costa Mesa.

"We Were Feared," directed by Jonathan W.C. Mills and produced by Roach and York Shackleton, will screen April 25 and April 29 at Edwards Island Theater at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. Roach also produced a short documentary in 1983 about the punk scene at the Cuckoo's Nest; that one was called "Urban Struggle."

Of the irony of the premiere in tony Newport about the gritty scene three decades ago in an industrial section of Costa Mesa, Roach quips, "They’ll be sorry for inviting me back."

-- Randy Lewis

Photo: The Ramones circa 1978 at the Cuckoo's Nest with club owner Jerry Roach, second from right. Credit: Endurance Pictures.

A modest proposal for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Faith Hill-Rock Hall of Fame 3-15-2010

Watching Faith Hill sing ABBA’s “The Winner Takes It All” during Monday night’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in New York brought to mind two words that hall officials should seriously consider before next year’s show:

Tribute bands.

There was nothing technically wrong with Hill’s performance — she even had ABBA member Benny Andersson accompanying her at the piano, and it was endearing to see this guy who was part of a group that sold 10 kazillion records in the '70s shaking nervously upon getting onstage in front of an audience of music-biz heavyweights.

But ABBA’s music wasn’t designed to be the kind of spare pop ballad that Hill delivered. Without the scintillating four-part harmonies and shimmering production of the group's records, it was just another drippy breakup tune.

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Iggy Pop: From a howl to a croon

The archetypal madcap rocker leaves his howl for a croon on 'Preliminaires.'

Iggy Pop, the shaman of punk, metal, glam and alternative rock, the man known for his baritone howl, scarred chest and unsettling stare, is sick of what the music he helped forge has become. "Rock is worse than 'Kumbaya,' " Pop said from the art-filled Miami riverfront bungalow he uses as a studio and clubhouse. "I think it's a terrible form."

So when he began to record his 20th studio album, the schoolteacher's son turned to other musical loves. Fans of the Stooges, the legendary proto-punk Michigan band that launched Pop's career and reunited in 2003, might be in for a shock when they hear "Préliminaires," released Tuesday, on which Pop finds his inner crooner.

He sings French cabaret like Serge Gainsbourg, poetic blues like Leonard Cohen, bossa nova like a blasted Sinatra and jazz like Louis Prima.

Rockers who start second careers by singing jazz have become an industry cliché, but Pop, no surprise, doesn't just rework the standard songbooks. Using "The Possibility of an Island," Michel Houellebecq's 2005 existential sci-fi novel about a dissolute, desolate icon as a springboard, "Préliminaires" follows the poète maudit tradition of Baudelaire and Rimbaud, not the sunny show tunes of Gershwin.

Pop sings "Les Feuilles Mortes," the mournful French basis for "Autumn Leaves." On "A Machine for Loving," he recites a passage from the book over an acoustic guitar: "Through these dogs, we pay homage to love." The ironic anthem "Nice to Be Dead" is the closest "Préliminaires" comes to a rocker.

"If someone wants to hear a good rock song by me, I've got a few," Pop, 62, said with a laugh, alluding to a catalog that includes "Raw Power," "Lust for Life" and "China Girl." "Your thyroid slows down after a certain age. I can still do it live, but I don't wake up dying to write one in that vein."
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