Iggy Pop - A Million in Prizes

2006-03-30 05:01

If you think you don't know Iggy Pop's music, you're wrong. You'll know at least one song. Perhaps "Lust for Life", the catchy track off the heroin movie Trainspotting (1996) starring Ewan McGregor. "Nightclubbing" is also on that soundtrack and was covered by the much-shaved Grace Jones. Or you'll know "China Girl" which David Bowie co-wrote, and re-recorded for Let's Dance (1983). Or you'll know "Candy" ("Candy Candy Candy I can't let you go") and "Wild One", off Blah Blah Blah (1986) which were Radio 5 No. 1 hits in the late 80s. Failing that, if you're still very wet behind the ears, you'll know "The Passenger", which was also a hit for Sousxie & The Banshees, and should win an award for Most Inappropriate Use of Song as a Marketing Jingle Ever. It's - wait for it - the Netstar advert theme tune: "I'm a passenger / And we ride and we ride..."

Yes you know Iggy Pop. But why isn't he as obviously famous as you'd expect?

Well, he suffered from a lack of editing. Though most albums had at least two hits to offer, and though it's considered abundantly cool to actually own The Idiot (1977) and Lust for Life (1977) or something by the band he first made it big with - The Stooges - there's lots of sloppy work to wade through. On his live albums, he often even sang completely out of tune and time.

So in 1986 or thereabouts, Iggy tried cleaning up and making more commercially viable albums, and had a couple of radio hits off Blah Blah Blah(1986) Apart from that, it's been compilations that have saved him from complete obscurity. When the movie Trainspotting revived his star in 1996, a 17-track compilation called Nude & Rude was quickly released to mop up the money before fans forgot about him again.

Iggy Pop's fame was partly about the larger than life public punk persona, and not just about the music. Like his inspirations The Who, Jim Morrison, Bowie, Lou Reed, Mick Jagger and others from the time, Iggy Pop was a cultural phenomenon and performer, not just a recording artist. He could do all the wrong he wanted and be adored, and recorded despite it (or even because of it).

In fact, many feel his glory is more in the past than the present. Some even say he's not nearly as good since he kicked the candy. And either they're right, or the past is a great filter that allows you to forget the junk and remember only the good stuff. That's what makes this particular compilation such a killer. It does get a lot of the junk, pun intended, out of the way, while preserving Pop's inspired madness.

While it might be cooler to own everything by The Stooges and Iggy Pop himself on vinyl, A Million in Prizes is better fun. At 38 tracks - including 10 from Stooges days - it's more comprehensive than Nude & Rude and more likely to get played than his rather patchy actual albums. Fans will complain that there's too much of this and not enough of that, but you can't go pleasing everyone. That's Kylie's job.

Listen to the sound clips on this page to hear some of the tracks. Get the full tracklisting and a good price on the CD at Kalahari.net

- Jean Barker


The sound is great throughout, and so are the songs, even as they veer from proto-punk primitivism to metallic ear-shredding to dope-fueled new wave to energetic anthems to pop crooning to mainstream rock to beat poetry.
- Charlotte Robinson for Pop Matters

Even though A Million in Prizes accomplishes exactly what it set out to do, it's difficult to get excited about this collection, especially with upcoming reissues of The Stooges and Fun House to look forward to.
- Stephen M. Deusner for Pitchfork Media

Compiling an anthology of the work of a drug-addicted, alcoholic, partially psychotic, promiscuous punk rock star from the trailer parks of Michigan who should actually have died of his excesses years ago when all his friends did, but miraculously lives on? Well, the key to success is to take a balanced approach.

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