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Iggy Pop

by Carol Cooper

In 1967, when The Doors released their first LP, a young ex-drummer named James Osterberg formed the Psychedelic Stooges to voice the primal urges of grungy, downwardly mobile, mid-western white kids. If Jim Morrison was the Lizard King, then Jimmy Osterberg was the Iguana Stooge -- a leather-skinned, cynical, self-invented "loser" neither duped nor encouraged by the hippie era's overly optimistic mysticism. Calling himself first Iggy Stooge, then ultimately Iggy Pop, Osterberg made raw, angry, libidinous rock and roll.

The Stooges' 1969 debut album is now thought of as the first legitimate punk-rock album. Through the early '70s, Stooges tours were as popular for their violent, self-flagellatory stage antics as for their songs. Periodic collaborations with David Bowie further consolidated Iggy's place in history as a lasting source of inspiration for some of the most honest and visceral songwriting in postmodern pop.

Monday night at Roseland, Iggy Pop's opening acts telegraphed the two halves of his core persona: the dark, moody mojo of Junior Kimbrough's country blues, and the hyper, sexually ambiguous energy of the young glam-punk outfit Psychotica.

Iggy himself hit the stage full-tilt with "I Wanna Live," naked and rippling from the waist up as if dressed for crucifixion. Between stage dives that bloodied his brow and tore his pants, Iggy sang a mixture of old and new material that proved beyond any doubt to a crowd of old and young fans that this is one 49-year-old rocker who regrets nothing but the fact that he can't live at peak velocity.

The new music comes from Naughty Little Doggy, (Virgin) his tightest collection of tunes since 1973's Raw Power, only more reflective and overtly funny. On "I Wanna Live" the aging hell-raiser admits: "I've got no choice but careful now/ Thank God I've done my crime." On "Shoeshine Girl" he extols the biker-chick charm of "a comely Goth girl/ with tattoos on her form."

Published in: Newsday, 11 April 1996