Themes From Great Cities

It might have come to your attention that I'm not a regular poster of love and understanding, which you will just have to get used to. I will however, have bursts of creativity where I move completely randomly from post to post with no rhyme or reason. I have recently posted a few singles (7 & 12”) and the odd bootleg which have been received very well by all who visit. More of the same will continue as you, dear readers, seem to be enjoying them.

Some of the rips are my own, but many more are from other blogs and I’m just sharing the wealth. If other bloggers out there wish to share the rips from my posts, please as I do, host them yourself. To combat this, the FLAC files that are over 6 months old will be replaced with MP3 files.

Finally I am happy to re-up old posts where the link has expired. Please comment in the relevant posts comments box.

Monday

Nightclubbing



In 1976, the Stooges had been gone for two years, and Iggy Pop had developed a notorious reputation as one of rock & roll's most spectacular waste cases. After a self-imposed stay in a mental hospital, a significantly more functional Iggy was desperate to prove he could hold down a career in music, and he was given another chance by his long time ally, David Bowie. Bowie co-wrote a batch of new songs with Iggy, put together a band, and produced The Idiot, which took Iggy in a new direction decidedly different from the guitar-fuelled proto-punk of the Stooges. Musically, The Idiot is of a piece with the impressionistic music of Bowie's "Berlin Period" (such as Heroes and Low), with its fragmented guitar figures, ominous basslines, and discordant, high-relief keyboard parts. Iggy's new music was cerebral and inward-looking, where his early work had been a glorious call to the id, and Iggy was in more subdued form than with the Stooges, with his voice sinking into a world-weary baritone that was a decided contrast to the harsh, defiant cry heard on "Search and Destroy." Iggy was exploring new territory as a lyricist, and his songs on The Idiot are self-referential and poetic in a way that his work had rarely been in the past; for the most part the results are impressive, especially "Dum Dum Boys," a paean to the glory days of his former band, and "Nightclubbing," a call to the joys of decadence. The Idiot introduced the world to a very different Iggy Pop, and if the results surprised anyone expecting a replay of the assault of Raw Power, it also made it clear that Iggy was older, wiser, and still had plenty to say; it's a flawed but powerful and emotionally absorbing work.


Iggy Pop, godfather of punk. This is a phrase you'll no doubt have heard countless times. This album was released in 1977, the "year that punk broke". What's funny then is that this album is pretty far removed from the typical punk styling’s of The Clash or Sex Pistols, and even further removed from the sound displayed on The Stooges albums...
This is perhaps better explained by the fact that this album was more or less co-written by David Bowie, practically being a collaborative effort. As such, this is definitely not the most representative of Iggy Pop's vast works (follow up "Lust for Life" is often regarded as far more so), but the quality here is undeniable, as under Bowie's guidance Iggy Pop created a near masterpiece that can sit proudly alongside classics such as Bowie's own "Low", also recorded in Berlin. The song "Baby" starts with a repetitive, simple bass drone that undoubtedly had an influence on post-punk bands such as Joy Division (so much of an influence that Ian Curtis chose this album as the soundtrack to his suicide), with Iggy Pop's deep vocals adding that menacing tone to the song, a theme that pervades over the album as a whole. He actually kinda sounds like Bowie on this track. This is a perfect example of the type of music this album undoubtedly influenced to a great degree.
Album opener "Sister Midnight" also displays Bowie’s style, echoing the highlight of "Low" and "Sound and Vision" in the guitar tones and simple, repetitive, yet effective guitar licks. Iggy is basically talking here, kind of sounds like preaching; again creating a distanced, slightly robotic atmosphere which is only offset by the previously detailed guitar, as the drums and bass also plod away with hypnotic uniformity. Following track "Nightclubbing" follows a similar formula, but adds horns and piano into the mix, really expanding the palette of the album, dragging Iggy Pop from The Stooges accidentally seminal fury into the world of art - the song's middle introducing a confused, wobbly guitar part that quite frankly sounds ahead of its time.
One of the clear highlights, for me at least, is the track "China Girl". Pure pop in the Bowie vein, it ups the tempo of the album and even ups the mood with uplifting chimes and that familiar style of guitar running all the way through. This is probably the most conventional song on the album, but, surrounded by examples of Pop and Bowie trying to push the boundaries, this works even better, the mood drops off slightly towards the end, Pop's vocals becoming slightly strained, before again lulling back into his drowsy demeanour. Simply put, this is a classic song.
Penultimate track, "Tiny Girls", is also a standout, the horns and slow, lounging bassline, along with the fitting drum work laying the ground work, the saxophone solo later on really setting this apart - a chilled, jazz inspired ballad exploring doubt in a relationship. This feeling is echoed in the effortless cool of "Dum Dum Boys", finger clicking and all, pronounced bassline accompanying a vocal performance so deep and preacher-esque he might well have been prophesising the release of "Unknown Pleasures" a mere two years later (a claim given more credence by the final tracks ridiculous resemblance to said album, in the opening three minutes at least).
Overall, although this may not be the most representative work in Iggy Pop's back catalogue, it surely has to rank as one of the best, the dark tones, emphasis on the bass guitar and Iggy Pop's vocal style having an obvious influence that still prevails today. There's a collage of sound to be found here (the last track has some kind of warped Elephant like sound, probably made by a synth, check it out) that really keeps the songs fresher and more interesting than many "classic" albums from the decade.


Otherworldly, beautiful, haunting and cool, Iggy Pop records the prototype for Bowie's "Berlin Trilogy" and creates a masterpiece in his own right.

Ripped from a dodgy source some other place on the interweb to MP3 @ 320kbps

Iggy Pop: The Idiot

1.     Sister Midnight
2.     Nightclubbing
3.     Funtime
4.     Baby
5.     China Girl
6.     Dum Dum Boys
7.     Tiny Girls
8.     Mass Production


 

2 comments:

  1. Great evaluation of 'The Idiot', made me dig out my CD and listen to it again! Even ran a comparison with 'Unknown Pleasures' - spot on again. Outside of Iggy's work with the Stooges, this disc and 'Lust For Life' and definitely my favourites in the mans canon and as you quite rightly say - they haven't aged a bit and could knock the spots off of anything available today.

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