One of my biggest pet peeves in corporate pop music is when labels issue greatest hits compilations that are entirely unwarranted. Did Britney Spears really need a “Best Of” after four albums? Was that completely necessary? Probably not, although I did kind of enjoy the “My Prerogative” cover. If Mrs. Federline merits a compilation, Iggy Pop deserves, on my rough estimate, 47 discs dedicated to his staggering body of work. We don’t get 47, but with A Million in Prizes, we’re treated to two discs packed full of Pop punch.
There is not one miss on the first disc, which spans from his tenure in The Stooges to his 1977 effort Lust for Life (“Some Weird Sin,” also from Lust for Life, appears on Disc Two). Since this is a compilation for Iggy, a lot of his work with the Stooges is cut in favor of his earlier solo material, skewing more towards The Idiot and Lust for Life than Fun House or Raw Power, which leaves a lot of favorites from the Stooges era off the disc. Fun House, the Stooges album with the strongest songs, only gets one appearance on Disc One (“Down on the Street”). To be fair, on Disc Two, there are live recordings of “T.V. Eye” and “Loose” (both originally from Fun House) from the Feile Festival in 1993 instead. While it could be argued that these new versions breathe new life into two classics, they also lose the edge, the slow, trudging sleaziness of the originals that made them so fascinating to begin with.
Disc One becomes more of a just an overview of the Pop oeuvre when it steps into rarities territory. “I Got a Right,” “Gimme Some Skin,” and “I’m Sick of You” were originally demos for the Stooges’ last studio album Raw Power. The songs have since been released as EPs on Bomp! Records and various other compilations but they are often overlooked. These songs are as strong as many of the album tracks and deserve their day in the sun as well. In them, along with Iggy’s other tracks, you can hear the building blocks of punk being laid down, to steal a title from Iggy himself, brick-by-brick.
Disc Two is what greatest hits compilations are made for: picking out the diamonds in the rough (and let me tell you, there’s a lot of rough). Pop himself once said, “To me, the nut of the thing is that if what you make is hard like a diamond, you can put it anywhere. You can put it up your ass it and it will still be beautiful.” There are some solid songs on Iggy’s later output and A Million in Prizes collects them into one simple package. Just think of it this way, a song like “Cry for Love” is the nut of things and Blah Blah Blah, the album the song originally appeared on, was like his ass. Other fun mementos that could only be created by include duets with Kate Pierson of the B-52s and Debbie Harry of Blondie fame. The duets are kind of campy and kind of ridiculous (especially the Harry tune “Well Did You Evah!” which reminisces about the bygone punk era) but they are both still quite a bit of fun.
Unfortunately, some of the rough got mixed up with a couple of the diamonds. I don’t think the world particularly needs a six-and-a-half minute jazz/spoken word piece by Pop, but we are give one anyway. “Skull Ring,” Pop’s collaboration with pop-punkers Sum 41 from his latest album of the same name is almost embarrassing. “Skull rings / Fast cars / Hot chicks / Money,” Pop sings in the chorus. What? The future Mr. Avril Lavigne couldn’t help you with better lyrics than that?
Iggy Pop – Nude and Rude: the Best of
David Bowie – ChangesBowie
Lou Reed – Between Thought and Expression: The Lou Reed Anthology