Jarring the memory back about 20 notches, picture you and your friends spilling beer in a 1974 Plymouth Fury parked on some empty red dog road in rural America. Maybe near a river, up in the hills, on the beach, and there isn't a soul for the ten pitch-black miles in any direction. It's just the gang, a couple of girls from class, a case of Old Mil, a bottle of Beam, and that almighty state-of-the-art Pioneer Supertuner with a thousand wires running under the dash to the cheap EQ/power amp lit up like a Christmas tree in the glove box. Things are getting strange. One of the women turns around, swapping spit with the other babe in the back seat. YeahŠ that's the action. Suddenly the driver pops out the Zep cassette, slaps a new tape in (he's the music machine, everybody's hero), and before it cues, with a coy smile he reaches over, hitting the brain-melting button on the amp like some evil bastard, instantly shooting an additional 40- watt hiss to the six speakers placed in strategic locations. And then BOOM, that honey-voiced "First of all we'd like to wish everyone a Happy New Year," comes on. Yeah man, that's it. The driver reaches over and shoves the EQ into a perfect V, grabbing all the top and bottom humanly possible, because the only way to really focus when Jimi Hendrix is about to peel paint and frighten deer with "Machine Gun" is without that annoying mid-range.
And that's what the release Voodoo Child: The Jimi Hendrix Collection is all about, top and bottom. Only the hissing is history, making the Hendrix plunge that much more thought-smearing when it nails you. Yeah, yeah, right, another Hendrix reissue? Which is beside the point. From the original remastered cuts on this thing, along with a dozen reissued and unreleased numbers including a super-polished "Little Wing" and live "Purple Haze" (thirty tracks total) this one is for ragers who want the core gems without getting blind-sided with the freaking $75 rip-off, limited-edition purple velvet box-set made for geeks who simply must have every last crumb of vault noise.
Beat 'Em Up / Virgin
Dispensing with the "Grandfather of Punk" ironic platitudes, Iggy Pop, who is eternally pissed off if no longer young, manages more self-resurrections than probably anyone in rock music today. It may be that his uniquely grimy cuisine of street raunch and bottom-of-the-ashtray nihilism is so completely immune from duplication that the guy just seems to defy physics, lingering on the fringes, howling brutish and ugly when everything else seems to grow sterile, controlled and polite.
And after 1999's tepidly received Avenue B, comprised largely of ballads, The Ig returns with his first post-millennium offering, a bruising affair called Beat 'Em Up, which finds the artist astride a straightforward garage band lineup fronted by guitarist Whitney Kirst, brother Alex on drums and bassist Lloyd "Mooseman" Roberts, an ex-Body Count member who was killed in a drive-by shooting last year. "You're masking a mask/You look better that way" he snarls on the opening "Mask" before collapsing into a free-for-all rant about broken people and professional fakes and ass-licking in Los Angeles. Vintage Ig here.
"Savior" comes slithering in a few cuts later, with its repeated and convincing chorus "Get me outta here!"-Pop's voice is broad, huge and Transylvanian. "Watch me walk on waterŠ" he taunts, before pleading for his own deliverance. And deliverance isn't something he's encouraging us to hold out for either. "You're gonna pay for shit music/pay for shit food/pay for everything because nobody wants youŠ" he howls on the dizzying "Drink New Blood," which concludes with a tweeter-tearing scream, one of the CD's most spontaneous, heart-warming raw moments. This is the Igster after all.
For their part, Pop's assembled band more or less stays out of his way, alternating between straight-up punk slamming ("Mask," "Weasels," "Drink New Blood") and more sinister, languidly poised headbanging. Check out the damaged testimonial "Go For The Throat," with Roberts and the Kirst brothers throbbing beneath Iggy boasting: "I'm fucked up/Go for the throat"-a portrait in anger and damage beyond repair that puts most of the kiddy angstrockers queuing up at the awards ceremonies these days to shame.
And so, after nearly an hour of dishing out some pretty serious abuse on the rest of us, he turns to a dripping bit of sarcastic waltzing with "V.I.P," a nearly stream-of-consciousness scree on the fleeting b.s. of stardom and free drinks and good tables and luscious groupies. This is a glimpse into the strange and wonderful world of Iggy Pop, where stardom smells as bad as the dumpster out back.