Kill City by Iggy Pop and James Williamson, produced by the latter--- it's as much a classic as their Raw Power by Iggy and The Stooges: it's merely not as earth-shatteringly ground-breaking. It was supposed to be a shovel-ready batch of demos to reveal a more commercial if still compellingly idiosyncratic side of its makers who had been major label artists heretofore.
Instead after several years of banging heads against the usual brick walls of the music industry, Kill City was sold to and released on Greg and Suzy Shaw's alternative/garage/punk oasis in the 1970s, the Bomp! Records label.
Any artist's tenure in L.A., then as now, ends in external or self-corruption and quasi-failure 90% of the time, eventually proving no different for Iggy and The Stooges. Therefore, Kill City's subject matter grittily presages the decades later fad for keeping it real about the depressing underside of life, still only a glimmer in the eyes of punk, rap, hip hop and reggae. (This last precept I know personally, as publishers' instructions for my mid-70s book on Bob Marley and the Wailers commanded I gear it to the intellectuality of college students, as the audience one might have presumed receptive for reggae, African-Americans, still preferred the glitz of Diana Ross and The Spinners to that of urban decay in those days.)
Kill City's sound is, to steal a description of the contemporary version of Keith Richards, elegantly wasted, alternately both energized and utterly laconic, the early morning chill out from the night before's former blast of raw power.
Another writer correctly deemed it "Exile On Stooge Street" and I agree its innate quality definitely should have put those two into The Bigs alongside the Stones. Excellent song-writing, excellent playing, excellent if harrowing delivery, and now with the remastering, you can hear everything going on! (This newfound clear audio also reveals at least one of the bases of James Williamson's and Scott Thurston's sympatico, as the keyboard and guitar parts complement one another wafting in and around each. It's also mostly the ensemble David Bowie poached for his future Iggy plans.)
How can retinkering the same ingredients make such a difference, which it most certainly does? Firstly, thirty-five years ago it initially was recorded on the cheap and on the fly with donated studio time and a lead singer carted in on day passes from the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Ward. (I used to witness Iggy projectile vomiting and falling down repeatedly in the gutter in front of The Whisky when I photographed acts there. I'm ashamed to admit that my early 20s self did not call for help for a young man obviously in much physical distress, but I was young and though one doesn't like to admit same, actually didn't know everything at the time. Thank heavens for his own later moment of clarity to self-admit to the UCLA ward to rehab.)
Secondly, consider it similar to the fine-tailoring of a bespoke suit instead of someone wearing one off the rack. You just perceive that the person comes off better and classier without knowing exactly why. Everyone involved credits Ed Cherney and rightly so for the new, remastered engineering mix which invisibly highlights what actually should be.
Subjectively, I'm likewise glad my late friend Suzan Carson's photos are showcased here sumptuously with her byline credit intact for a change. Boo on Getty Images for anonymity of her legacy therein. She was a fabulous photographer and a genuinely nice person, so nice I wasn't even jealous that she got most of the assignments I might have coveted, but understandable for her as we shared musical tastes for the adventuresome in that proto-punk era. We also shared the same circle of UCLA graduate chums who had morphed into the local entertainment biz.
When I emerged from my serious illness in the 80s, she was one of the first people I wanted to see, with thoughts to jump-starting my photography after this lay off. We talked about sharing costs for renting a studio together since we sort of worked similarly and knew that we could get along (important: I got stiffed/betrayed bigtime by my best friend when I had worked at a major record company. At least after the requisite cooling off decade, this person and I were and are friends again.) Then Suzan got her serious illness, and she didn't emerge.
Lastly, I used to play the original release in darkened rooms over and over and over because it seemed to mirror the unlikely combo of arrogance and despair in my own quest to get the art out and the love in. I'm glad those days are long gone for everyone connected with Kill City and everyone survived those queasy times, with the exception of Greg Shaw and Suzan Carson, talents taken away from us all far, far too young.
L-R: Models Mary Kay of The Dogs and Kirk Henry with Suzan Carson at my shoot for a Warner Brothers tv commercial, 1986
Treat yourself to this important release. Obtain here: LINK
and get a taste of Suzan Carson's fine photography in it and one of the amazing Kill City tracks in the video below: