With the year of 2020 coming to an end, MVD have decided to release a massive box set devoted to Iggy Pop & The Stooges. The box set, From K.O. to Chaos, is a 7 CD/1 DVD set devoted to the band’s music released on SkyDog Records. The box set’s name is taken from the titles of two live Stooges albums- Metallic K.O. and Telluric Chaos– which are included in this set. Along with these albums, a slew of other discs are offered here. While it’s a bit much to take in, Iggy and Stooges completists should be happy.
Given that this is a box set, I will review this album by album.
Metallic K.O. (recorded 1973-74, released 1976) + Full Concerts
Originally released in 1976, Metallic K.O. is perhaps one of the most visceral live albums ever recorded. Taken from two different live shows (one of them being their last show ever until the 2000s), the album captures the raw power and energy of Iggy and the Stooges- albeit with lo-fi audio. Still, the DIY nature of the original album gives it a bit of character. The band perform a few tunes from Raw Power and some songs that might’ve ended up on a fourth album had the band not split. The second half of the album is notorious as you can hear the sound of beer bottles and cans being pelted at the band- while Iggy, more than likely tripping on drugs, insults the audience.
The concerts featured on Metallic K.O. are presented in their entirety on Discs 2 and 3 in the correct speed. While the overall quality of the recording is still rough, you can hear things a little more clearly than on the original album- such as the splendid work from Ron and Scott Asheton, who made for a great rhythm section.
Rating (all discs): 7/10
We Are Not Talking About Commercial Shit (recorded 1979-80s, released 1995)
The second release featured in this set is a collection of live recordings during Iggy’s “lost” years. A majority of the songs featured on Commercial are cover tunes, which is probably where the album gets its title. However, the production here isn’t great nor are the performances anything too special. The lone studio track on this album is a 1980s demo cover of Sly and the Family Stone’s “Family Affair,” which is fun to listen to now as Iggy released a new cover of the song earlier this year in 2020 as a single. As a whole, this isn’t anything special.
Wake Up Suckers! (recorded 1972-91, released 1996)
Similar to Commercial, Suckers is another collection of (mostly) live recordings. However, the material offered here is fairly diverse- considering the tracks are from a timespan of almost two decades. The album starts off with two great single-only songs from the Stooges- “I Got a Right” and “Gimme Some Skin”- which is nice to have considering these aren’t offered as bonus tracks on reissues of the band’s first three albums. From thereon out, it’s a collection of live tunes with mediocre recording quality- including a few unused songs from the Metallic K.O. shows, which were still unreleased at that point. The album ends with several demos co-written with Ric Ocasek- with “Woman Dream” being a highlight. Given it’s range of tunes, this is slightly better than Commercial.
Acoustics K.O. (recorded 1990-93, released 2007)
Originally released as a DVD/CD deal, Acoustics K.O. is another rarities set- though this time, the focus is on acoustic music. The DVD included here features two live performances- a 1993 solo acoustic show in Barcelona and a solo electric performance in Paris. Of the two performances, the Barcelona show is- hands down- the best thing about Acoustics K.O.. While only a little over 30 minutes, it’s a surprisingly great performance in which Iggy was able to play a handful of songs with a four-stringed acoustic guitar. Iggy’s voice sounds great and watching this show- it surprises me that MTV never did an episode of Unplugged with Iggy. The CD, for whatever reason, doesn’t feature audio of the DVD. Instead, it seems to be a 28 minute disc of acoustic demos- most of which would end up on Iggy’s 1990 album Brick by Brick.
DVD rating: 7/10 (mostly for the Barcelona show)
CD rating: 6/10
Telluric Chaos (recorded 2004, released 2005)
The last disc in the set is Telluric Chaos, a live recording of the reunited Stooges performing in Japan in 2004. For years, people had wondered if the Stooges would ever reunite. Nearly 30 years after their split, Iggy and the Asheton brothers reunited- recruiting Minutemen bassist Mike Watt and Fun House era saxophonist Steve Mackay. The band plays a near 80 minute set filled with songs from the first two albums, along with some newer songs. While it’s a highly energized performance, the audio quality is once again an issue. Still, it’s cool to hear the Stooges when everyone is sober (I’m assuming).
From K.O. to Chaos is an immersive look into the career of Iggy Pop and the Stooges. Along with the albums, you get a wonderfully detailed booklet- with liner notes written by Iggy Pop biographer Paul Trynka. Despite the quality of these recordings, you’re getting what you paid for: all of the Iggy and the Stooges releases from. As someone who owns most of Iggy’s solo albums and all of the Stooges albums, I enjoyed exploring the music here. Whether I’ll come back to most of these albums or not- I don’t know. I’d really only recommend this set to diehard Iggy/Stooges fans. At $67, diehard fans should be pleased with this release. If you’re someone who just owns the first three Stooges albums and Iggy’s first two solo albums, this set might overwhelm you. Still for what it is, this is an all-around solid box set.
I'm a writer/journalist with a passion for music and pop culture. Having graduated from King's College in Wilkes-Barre, PA in 2014, I've been looking for a platform in which I can share my passions. Since 2009, I've been posting to my own blog- The Walrus' Music Blog- via Blogger. I'm also the author of two self-published books, "The Camp: Stories from the Summer" and "The College: Stories from King's." Together, the two books cover the story of my life from 2004 to 2014. I've been lucky enough to interview several of my favorite musicians over the years and go to concerts from time to time. I'm also very devoted to the CBS reality TV show Survivor, which I started watching in 2002 when its fourth season started. I currently live in New Jersey.