What’s your favorite live album? That’s the conceit for Day 12 of the #mayvinylchallenge, and my brain spun with so many choices I had to take a pic of five (and that was trimming it) for the daily Instagram pic. But when it comes to this site I like to only focus on one, and while my child’s heart would probably scream that Live After Death is my all-time favorite (it was the first live album I ever owned), I thought I’d focus on the most recent live album in my collection: the so-good-it’s-kind-of-ridiculous Post Pop Depression: Live at the Royal Albert Hall from the godfather of punk, rock, and everything else under the sun…Iggy Pop.
Pop’s stellar legacy aside, it’s important to think about where he was at the time that Post Pop Depression came out. His last “rock” album was the guest-laden Skull Ring in 2003; since then there were two albums that took a decidedly different track: 2009’s Préliminaries was a mixed bag of softer, jazz-influenced tracks with Pop signing in both English and French. 2012’s Aprés tossed out English altogether, opting for cover songs entirely sung in French. It worked to an extent, but I don’t know if folks were really expecting Iggy to come back with the force he did on Post Pop Depression.
A lot of the punch is thanks to his choice of partners this time. Rathe than go the guest star route, he enlisted the help of Josh Homme (QOTSA, Eagles of Death Metal) as a songwriting partner and producer. Homme in turn brought aboard QOTSA guitarist Dean Fertita and Arctic Monkeys drumming powerhouse Matt Helders. The result is Pop’s best album in forever, blending together all of his recent fancies with a driving rock pulse that is at once modern and classic. That band – with the addition of Matt Sweeney on bass and Troy Van Leeuwen on guitars, keyboards, and percussion set out across the globe with a fire that is perfectly captured across six sides of wax, a limited edition Record Store Day set, which captures the entire performance.
Where the studio record is a pulsing, throbbing rock record, the live document is ferocious, with Pop screaming and prowling through the speakers, raging against crowd, laying bare his effort in the way only he can. The band matches him beat for beat: classic like “Lust for Life,” “The Passenger” and even “Repo Man” are the most alive they’ve been in ages. But what’s even better is that the new material in a live setting feel exactly the same, from the post punk vibe of “Gardenia” to the ominous tone of “American Vahalla” and “Sunday.”
If you’re reading this and familiar with the CD or streaming version you already have a taste of what’s in store. “But wait!” you say, “What’s this about “Repo Man” being there?” Yup – you get 22 tracks versus the 12 on other services, and if you haven’t heard how “Paraguay” merges into “Success” the actual closing number of the show, then you haven’t heard Post Pop Depression Live at the Royal Albert Hall yet.
And trust me, you need to.