TV Party - I

IGGY AND THE STOOGES - Escaped Maniacs {MVD} It's rather surreal, and hugely depressing, to review this in the wake of Ron Asheton’s death. It’s been in the review pile for a while, but clocking in at a gargantuan 5-and-a-half hours plus (with added DVD-ROM material), it’s not something to be viewed in a mere single sitting.
The core of this double DVD package is the STOOGES’ performance at the Lokerse Freestern festival in Belgium from August 2005. The main feature is laden with visual trickery and looks to be a Glastonbury Festival kinda deal. You get multi-camera colour footage mixed with b/w, strobe switching, increased contrasts, slow motion, freeze frames, image layering, blurring, image zoom and more. I’m not too sure why because it detracts from the live show. Of the songs? ‘1969’ is deplorably weak but thankfully the unrelenting strobe fix of ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ and the set-stealing highlight (thanks to Mike Watt’s colossal bass performance) of ‘TV Eye’ compensate. ‘Real Cool Time’ sees the ubiquitous stage invasion while ‘No Fun’ has IGGY rolling around with ¾ of his butt exposed. I have to say, the ‘Live In Detroit’ DVD is a much better representation of the intense live show of the STOOGES.
But this wins out on amazing extras. First off, you get the ‘Director’s Cut’ of the same show - which is much better! There’s less visual trickery, more full stage shots and is generally more focused on band and audience. Why this was not the official cut is beyond me - it’s what I want to see (as in the band - not a load of retro-70s ‘Top Of The Pops’ style studio visuals) and I guess it is what STOOGES fans wanna see. Bizarre... The first DVD culminates with interviews with both Ron and Scott Asheton.
Disc two’s big draw is the IGGY POP retrospective. The core IGGY footage seems to be filmed in either New York in 1986 or during the reformation shows. He talks of his fascination for the "industrial hum" of Detroit and there is a lot of vintage footage, nearly all (unfortunately) overdubbed with studio recordings. Bowie’s influence is well stated but the periods of immediate post-STOOGES and post-Bowie receive little discussion. There’s a fantastic Letterman interview and, all too soon, it has gone full circle and we are back to the start.
There are yet more extras with another IGGY interview and also Esther Friedman who toured (and more!) with IGGY for seven years plus. Finally there is a wealth of CD-ROM extras including a discography, Creem interviews, band biographies, acting appearances and more! Oh - great booklet too with yet more anecdotes.
This is definitely one for IGGY/ STOOGES obsessives and should be viewed as a massive labour of love (for compiler AND viewer!). Personally, I prefer the ‘Live in Detroit’ disc as a definitive representation/ package of the STOOGES reformation shows; but the depth of commitment and quality of information here makes it an essential viewing. (20.02.09)

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