It's become an article of pat faith among today's so-called 'arts commentators' that [a]Iggy Pop[/a] is something of a joke...

It’s become an article of pat faith among today’s so-called ‘arts commentators’ that [a]Iggy Pop[/a] is something of a joke: the one-time real-deal embodiment of rock filth reduced to extolling the joys of domesticity, singing about how he wants to live “a little bit longer”. What these smug excuses for amoebic pond-life fail to realise is that no-one has embodied rock’n’roll more totally than Iggy, nor come closer to paying for such utter commitment with his life. He can, therefore, do whatever he wants.

Conclusive proof for such exorbitant babble resides with ‘Metallic KO’. Legend maintains this more-talked-about-than-actually-heard document of the last Iggy And The Stooges gig on February 9, 1974 (plus another show from October ’73) offers a goo-drenched vantage point at what was, as Iggy himself gleefully yowls, a “riot in the Motor City!” caused by an entire Hell’s Angel chapter bent on snuffing out these no-mark punks. In truth, however, the recording’s limitations – two fans bootlegged the gig and sent the tapes to Stooges guitarist James Williamson – conspire to minimise the mayhem at Detroit’s Michigan Palace. All we have are Iggy‘s words for it, but as ever, these speak more eloquently than the combined life’s work of a million poets.

“You can throw your goddamn cocks, I don’t care!” he pouts amidst a barrage of bottles, glasses, eggs, light bulbs and whatever else was handy at the time. “You pricks can throw every Goddamn thing in the world, and your girlfriend’ll still love me. Ya jealous cocksuckers!” The intro to ‘Cock In My Pocket’ simply goes: “A-one! Two! FUCK YOU PRICKS!!!”

Musically, ‘Metallic KO’ is hardly a thing of beauty. At points, The Stooges sound like a barely alive bar band from hell – which, after years of internal rancour and merciless narcotic abuse, they essentially were – and indeed the ’73 recording reveals a far more cohesive unit, with portents of all the bands who would subsequently claim these scrawny losers as prime inspiration. Yet as a portrait of a man simultaneously defined and doomed by his unquenchable desire for an adrenalin kick he couldn’t find elsewhere, this is vivid, brutal entertainment.

“Thank you very much to the person who threw this glass bottle at my head. It nearly killed me but you missed again so you’ll have to try again next week.” Twenty-five years on, they’re still trying to kill Iggy, still trying to prove his mortality. The wisest man in rock, meanwhile, is still singing ‘Louie Louie’.