The excellent Easy Action label has released volume 2 of their Iggy Pop box set series, Where The Faces Shine.
Volume 2 includes a disc which is of particular interest to Pistols and Steve Jones fans, Odds n Sods Playin' with Cars n Pistols.
Steve features on no less than 11 tracks. First is a demo of Repo Man, recorded in ‘83 with backing by Chequered Past. Steve was struggling with his drug problem during his time with Chequered Past, but you'd never know listening to the recording. Chugging solid guitar powers this demo in much the same way as the final movie version. It's reassuring to hear him sound so confident during this difficult period.
The five Hancock Park demos from September ‘85 have appeared before on different CD and vinyl releases, but this is the first time all of them have been brought together on one release. Both Steve and Iggy Pop were starting to get themselves back on track both personally and musically by the mid-80s, and these demos bear evidence of this. Woman Dream is a smart reminder of the trademark sound Steve can pull out of his guitar. However, for a full on power-riff the cover of Purple Haze delivers in spine tingling fashion. Steve has remarked in the past that the first record he recalled grabbing his attention was Purple Haze, so it's a treat to hear him cover the song.
When Dreaming Fails and the cover of Sly and the Family Stone's Family Affair are close in feel to Steve's solo Mercy album and illustrate the sound he was moving towards. The mellow feel of these tracks allows Steve's guitar to breathe and for the first time we hear how accomplished he'd become since his Pistols days.
The real gem from these sessions is Beside You. Iggy would later release a re-recorded version as a single, but it doesn't touch this cut. A joint Pop/Jones composition, the gentle tantalising intro is eclipsed as Steve unleashes a screeching salvo that announces “I'm back.”
The pre A&M Cry For Love demo carries on the renaissance. For fans of Steve's work, it's a step up from the released version, with Steve's input more in evidence on this demo cut. It was Cry For Love that told me Steve had returned from the wilderness. I switched on Radio One back in '86 and the song had already started. I recognised Iggy's voice, but then the most amazing guitar solo kicked off. I just knew it was Steve. Listen to the solo on this demo: it's just as good.
Steve made a special encore appearance at an Iggy show at the New York Ritz in July '88. It's good to hear Steve perform a couple of tracks (Cold Metal & Squarehead) from the Instinct album on which he'd played, and a real treat to hear him back Iggy on No Fun – a blending together of the Pistols' and Stooges' iconic versions. I Wanna Be Your Dog is a delight as well. The sound quality is superb giving an extra kick to the proceedings.
Also on the disc are other Iggy tracks from the period including demos recorded with Ric Ocasek of the Cars.
The remaining discs in the set feature quality live recordings recorded between ‘82 and '88. Iggy in concert never disappoints, and this collection is a wonderful document of him performing his unique, unmistakeable brand of rock ‘n' roll through the different tours he undertook. Previously unreleased, either in bootleg form or official capacity, with over 100 songs in the box set, there is a wealth of amazing performances on offer, all digitally re-mastered. Just select a show and dive in. I particularly enjoyed the Breaking Point Tour and the Instinct Warm Up Tour shows.
The shows are as follows: Zombie Birdhouse Tour, Ritz New York, 9th December 1982.
The Breaking Point Tour, Keystone Palo Alto, California, 13th February 1983.
Blah Blah Blah Tour (over 2 discs), St Andrews Hall Detroit, 8th November 1986.
Warm up show for the Instinct Tour, The Whiskey-a-Go-Go, Los Angeles, 8th July 1988.
Rounding off the collection is a DVD recorded at Pinewood Studios in 1988 featuring six tracks from the Instinct period plus interviews. No Steve Jones, but a fantastic performance by Iggy's band. A 7000 word booklet accompanies the set and includes many unpublished pictures.
Steve's involvement with Iggy makes Where The Faces Shine Volume 2 worthy of your close attention. Easy Action have done a terrific job with the mastering – this is the best quality I've heard the Hancock Park demos.
If you love Iggy Pop in his own right, and let's face it we all do, this makes for a gripping collection. It's also available at a great price.
Well done Easy Action.
Review by Phil Singleton (2nd December '08)