Kill City 3

KILL CITY – Description
As I have written about previously, the first LP released by Bomp! Records was Kill City, representing music that Iggy Pop and James Williamson put together right after the Stooges broke up.  As Greg Shaw tells the story in the liner notes for the double-CD compilation album, Destination: Bomp! in the entry for the Stooges song “I Got a Right”:  “In 1976-77Bomp was about the only established label in America that was actively pushing the new music.  For a brief time, I could have had virtually any band that I wanted.  It couldn’t last of course, but while it did, it was a real rush. 
“But I never dreamed I could have the Stooges, until James Williamson showed up one day with a tale of woe:  Iggy, fighting to kick drugs, had finished most of a great new album, but his rep was so bad no label would touch him.  Even Sire [Records] had passed on Kill City.  Was I interested? 
“Even though I had to almost sell my soul to raise the needed cash, I wasn’t about to let this deal pass.  To this day, Kill City is the single most important item in the Bomp catalog; but what made it extra nice is that James also threw in a big box of unlabeled tapes that turned out to be mostly demos and rehearsals from the Raw Power days onward – hours and hours of stuff that became the foundation for my long-term Iguana Chronicles project of documenting the unreleased side of this incredible band.” 
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Additional information on Kill City is found in the liner notes for the CD reissue of Kill City in 1992.  Most of the liner notes were written by Tim Stegall of Alternative Press Magazine, but Greg Shaw also has a few pages under the heading “. . . As I Recall It”.  For one thing, Shaw remembers “. . . [the Stooges’] amazing ‘last ever live show’ (Metallic K.O. notwithstanding) at some ‘Death of Glitter’ fest at the Palladium in ’75”. 
Officially, the Kill City LP’s were released by Bomp! Records in 1977; but in order to actually get the albums produced, Bomp! had made a deal with a leading record importer called Jem Records, and they were the ones who pressed and sold the original LP’s on ugly green vinyl and also got the licensing rights.  (I have Jem Records and names similar to that, like GEMA, on who knows how many of my albums, though “Jem Records apparently does not appear anywhere on the Kill City-era records).  There are also 8-track tapes of both Kill City and Metallic K.O. out there according to Discogs
Greg Shaw recalls fondly:  “Kill City, besides being Bomp’s first LP (although this [the 1992 Kill City CD] is in fact the first time we’ve ever put it out ourselves!) also had the distinction of being the first LP on England’s legendary Radar [Records] label, as well as Germany’s equally notable Line Records.  It was seen as one of the year’s more significant releases, and looking back over 15 years, I’d have to say it’s still the album I’m proudest of.” 
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Besides the Kill City CD and a Kill City LP on hand-mixed colored vinyl in the stack of albums that I am currently playing my way through (this pressing presumably uses a 2010 remix of the album from the original multi-track tapes by James Williamson and engineer Ed Cherney), I have other copies of Kill City around here, including a copy on purple vinyl and even a 10” vinyl release of Kill City – that one has 8 cuts rather than 11 and omits the two “Night Theme” tracks at the end of Side 1 and the beginning of Side 2, with the only full song omitted being “Master Charge”.  I thought that I had ordered many years ago a package that included a copy of the original 1977 album on green vinyl (that would be one of the LP’s pressed and sold by Jem Records) plus a later copy with a better sound mix, but I cannot seem to put my hands on the green album. 
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Whatever else might be said of the StoogesIggy Pop and the other bandmembers put their heart and soul into their music; but none of their first three albums were big sellers.  As fantastic as their new songs were sounding in concert, there was no reason to think that a fourth Stooges album would do any better.  Additionally, the excesses of the rock and roll life were taking their toll, particularly the drug use by Iggy Pop.  Thus, Kill City was a move in a different direction, and only two of the songs from the later years of the Stooges were included on the record, Johanna” and “I Got Nothin’.  Kill City is also different from Iggy Pop’s other records, in that it is not a solo album or a Stooges album; the artist is given as Iggy Pop and James Williamson.
As I might have mentioned already, the album that became Raw Power started off as a collaboration between Iggy Pop and James Williamson also.  Iggy Pop had been signed with MainMan Management, the company that handled David Bowie.  They were recording in England, and after many auditions for a rhythm section, James Williamson suggested that the Asheton brothers be flown over from the U.S.Scott Asheton sat in on drums, while the Stooges’ founding guitarist Ron Asheton reluctantly agreed to become the bass guitarist.  Only at that point did it truly start to become a Stooges album. 
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Although it took me a while to warm to Kill City, it has become one of my favorites among Iggy Pop’s albums – even with the truly wonderful first album by the StoogesThe Stooges (1969) that is in the same current album stack.  Considering Iggy Pop’s state of mind at that time – he had checked himself into a mental institution in an attempt to clean himself up and become functional again – the demos that he and James Williamson put together at the home recording studio of Jimmy Webb (!) in 1975 that became Kill City are remarkably self-assured and remind me of the feel of his triumphant solo album, Brick by Brick (1990). 
The Wikipedia article notes some of the critical reaction to Kill City:  “Nick Kent of New Musical Express called it ‘a great album’.  Mark Deming of Allmusic called the album ‘a minor triumph’, writing:  ‘The music is more open and bluesy than on Raw Power, and while [James] Williamson’s guitar remains thick and powerful, here he’s willing to make room for pianos, acoustic guitars and saxophones; and the dynamics of the arrangements suggest a more mature approach after the claustrophobia of Raw Power.’  Martin Aston of BBC Music praised the album, calling it ‘Iggy’s most underrated album’ and one that ‘helped him get back to real life’.  The Wire placed Kill City in their list of ‘100 Records that Set the World on Fire (While No One Was Listening)’.” 
Still, Kill City – and the other albums in The Iguana Chronicles for that matter – has comparatively low marks from some critics.  While the previous two albums by the StoogesFun House and Raw Power, as well as the first two solo albums by Iggy PopThe Idiot and Lust for Life all have 5-star ratings by AllmusicKill City is at 3½ stars.  Robert Christgau of Village Voice gave the album a B. 
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Anyway, once Kill City broke the ice, Bomp! Records and their affiliated labels like BFD RecordsVoxx RecordsAIP RecordsMohawk Records, and others began pressing LP’s by the truckload almost immediately. 
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Besides Kill City, an EP called Jesus Loves the Stooges was released by Bomp! Records at the same time (1977), featuring a dead donkey on the cover (Greg Shaw blames Jem Records for the cover art).  On Side 1 are two songs from Kill City, “Consolation Prizes” and Johanna”; and Side 2 has a previously unreleased jam by Iggy and the Stooges called “Jesus Loves the Stooges” (and I have little doubt that He does!). 
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Kill City could be viewed as the original Iguana Chronicles release, although the LP’s were not marked that way in the beginning.  The 1992 CD of Kill City that I have shows The Iguana Chronicles printed on the back page of the booklet, but the listing in Discogs showing the same page does not.
In addition to Kill City, the earliest release that could be grouped in The Iguana Chronicles is probably a single by Iggy and the StoogesI Got a Right, i.e., “I Got a Right” b/w “Gimme Some Skin”.  These songs were part of the package acquired from James Williamson, but the single had already been released in 1977 by a small French label called Siamese Records; this company had also been bidding for the rights to Kill City.
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Three other albums in The Iguana Chronicles rework previous releases by Bomp! Records.  One of these is the Jesus Loves the Stooges 7” EP that came out at the same time as Kill City and was also actually put together by Jem Records.
The new release of Jesus Loves the Stooges is a 10” vinyl EP that has four songs instead of three; Side 1 opens with the title song from Kill City, “Kill City” followed by Johanna; and Side 2 has Jesus Loves the Stooges and Consolation Prizes.  The latter three songs were those on the original 7” version.  The back cover has a photo of Iggy Pop rather than the Christmas style layout on the original Jesus Loves the Stooges; the liner notes on the back cover say that the 7” EP was originally released for Christmas 1977.  As a bonus, there are 3-D glasses provided. 
(December 2017)
Last edited: March 22, 2021