Why, it seems like only yesterday [cue harp and wavy, out-of-focus visuals] when you could pore over an album's liner notes and not have to squint to garner an embarrassment of riches and a treasure trove of tidbits…
With a sound ranging from tinny din to sonic sludge-fest, Iggy and the Stooges’ Metallic 2 K.O. (recorded in Detroit on Oct 6, 1973, Feb 9, 1974 and released in 1988) wouldn’t seem a natural candidate for expansion from its bootleg beginnings and original 1976 single-record version. It certainly isn’t ideal as an introduction to the song stylings of James Newell Osterberg – that’s what you have Fun House from 1970 and 1973’s Raw Power for.
But for anyone who has ever seen Iggy in live performance, in either his Stooge or Pop incarnations, this double album is a reasonable — though not-to-scale — facsimile, a what-you-hear-is-what-you’ll-get proto-punk Pop approximation that includes the audience participation portion of the program. Which pretty much amounts to a confrontational rough-and-tumble that largely lasts, as I recall, throughout the entire concert: mutual abuse and altercation for all, spit and suds and all, if not the blood and broken glass free-for-all.
The renowned critic Lester Bangs, one of Metallic 2 K.O.’s liner note writers, along with Giovanni Dadomo and Nick Kent, succinctly and evocatively sums up what this means, for you, the record buyer: “It’s the only rock album I know where you can actually hear hurled beer bottles breaking against guitar strings.”
Surely such disorderly conduct is at odds with the careful craftsmanship that went into writing and refining the songs, with say, “Cock in my Pocket” an improvisational exception? “No,” insists Iggy, “that particular track was written in Los Angeles at home one night – I think it was over the New Years’ holiday. And I remember that because it took some time – maybe half an hour writing that!”
Not that perfectionism is uppermost in Iggy’s mind. “We’re the hardest working band in the business,” he reminds the crowd right before he and Ron Ashton, Scott Ashton, James Williamson, and Scott Thurston launch into “Gimme Danger.” “I don’t care if we aren’t the best.”
He’ll get no argument from Giovanni Dadomo, who puts Metallic 2 K.O. in a broader context in his commentary. Regardless of it being “no great record per se,” and “crass, conceited, vulgar and unpleasant,” it is nonetheless unique as an “astonishing piece of documentary work, revealing as it does the face of rock ‘n’ roll that few singers/musicians would ever be so rude, angry, wrecked or impolite to reveal.”
Metallic 2 K.O. is simply, Dadomo concludes, “A record that quite literally has to be heard to be believed.” A little in the way of vivid and descriptive liner notes can be of help, too.