From K.O. to Chaos documents the death of the birth of punk rock

From K.O. to Chaos documents the death of the birth of punk rock
Iggy. Fucking. Pop.

They tell me he’s the grandpappy of that toe-tapping genre the kids are calling punk rawk, and who am I to argue? Don’t get me wrong: I don’t go for any of that baritone cash grabbin’ car commercial Iggy that your brother in law probably likes. I’m talking about the motherfucking Stooges, when his trusted delinquent Ron Asheton stood by his side as Iggy teetered on the precipice of nihilism before deciding to toss the whole thing in and plunging directly into the yawning chasm of chaos.

Mere weeks before Iggy finally put a stake in the heart of the-long suffering Stooges and checked himself in to a psychiatric hospital, he had one final gig — on Feb. 9, 1974, in his home state of Michigan — that would perfectly document the moment when the wheels finally came off. The recording of that concert, Metallic K.O., is musically mediocre at best, but as a historical document of the roots of punk rock, it’s as good as you can get.

Metallic K.O. by Iggy & the Stooges, part of the From K.O. to Chaos

Long before punkers at the Roxy or CBGB’s in NYC  were taunting the crowd in an attempt to shock, or engaging an audience to gob at ’em, Iggy was dodging a storm of flotsam sent stageward that included everything from batteries to whisky bottles. When Metallic K.O. was released as an import-only oddity in 1976, the ultimate culture commentator of all time, Lester Bangs, heralded its arrival with: “Metallic K.O. is the only record that I know where you can actually hear hurled beer bottles breaking against guitar strings.” Celebrating this record that helped birth punk rock comes From K.O. to Chaos (Skydog/Jungle/MVD), a box set featuring seven CDs and one DVD.

This record is nothing without its backstory, because (again), musically this is hardly the Stooges at full flight — that would be Funhouse, duh. The six tracks that originally appeared on Metallic K.O. showcased a band that was strung out — all of the stuffing was clearly beaten out of them as they sweated it out to the oldies while dodging beer bottles and jeers just so they could make enough money for a fix. By the beginning of ’74, you could definitely see the band circling the drain.

As the story goes, Iggy got completely knocked out by a biker at a gig in Michigan the week prior to this show, so the Iggster went on the radio and called out the whole bike gang, who dutifully showed up to the final Stooges gig looking for blood as the band crumbled before everybody’s eyes.

Iggy & the Stooges

For true gluttons for punishment (like me), this super duper edition of Metallic K.O. is great stuff. Enclosed in a handsome clamshell case, From K.O. to Chaos collects all of the Stooges material released on the Sky Dog Label including a full director’s cut of Metallic K.O. with a bunch of new material — thankfully speed-corrected as the original version ran too slow. Metallic K.O. takes up three discs here, two discs of killer outtakes and rarities, two acoustic CDs/DVDs, which are best left in their sleeves, and a fairly recent recording of the reunited Stooges, which is meh.

If the Stooges were gonna fly off the rails, they were going to do it spectacularly. Like the band from the Titanic, they held out for as long as they possibly could. God bless the Stooges and all who sail with it. ■

This column was originally published in the April issue of Cult MTL. For more about the Iggy & the Stooges From K.O. to Chaos box set, please visit the MVD website.

See previous editions of Hammer of the Mods here.
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