Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Godawful Small Affair: Extra Credit 1 "The Idiot"

Iggy Pop - "THE IDIOT" (1977)

COVER SHOT: Does what it says on the tin.

(Hello, chums!  While I was doing this Bowie listen-through, I hosted a couple of friends at my palatial mansion, who luckily just missed "Young Americans".  They suggested that I throw in the other albums DB worked on during the Berlin years - and now, I'm a tell y'all about them.  Word.)

It wasn't just Bowie's career that was getting a shot in the arm (pun...  Erm...  We'll go with "not intended", for legal reasons) in Berlin, but also his friend Iggy Pop, who had already had some previous with Bowie, so why don't we ramble on about that for a bit, as if any of it needed repeating at all?  This is the problem with treading such a well-worn path: you run out of original things to say, then have to stuff the whole thing with knob gags to make it readable.  And I'm not even doing THAT well, because that's the first time I've used the word "knob" in this blog.  Damn it all.

The Stooges were a vaguely psychedelic proto-punk group from Michigan, who along with their peers The MC5 were freaking out squares from the very late sixties onwards before imploding, leaving only three excellent albums that are really quite different to each other.  Long story short, lead singer Iggy was more famous for his wild and woolly onstage antics, including fighting, hurling objects and frequent displays of his knob (YES!  Here we go!), than he was for his music and was looking for some career rehab.  Also: some actual rehab.

Enter David, stage left.  Him twiddling the knobs (I'm on fire here) hadn't worked out too well with the anaemic first mix of "Raw Power", which was only righted by a Bruce Dickinson remix - yes, he of Iron Maiden/commercial piloting fame - but given that he'd lent Ig a chunk of his backing band it would have been rude to say no, and when the whole party decamped to Berlin, Iggy was firmly along for the ride, and more than punched his weight in the musical stakes, as "The Idiot" confirms.

Sounding the absolute opposite of the crazy, uncontrollable ruckus of latter-day Stooges, The Idiot features a measured, largely electronic backing that showcases Mr Pop's surprisingly wide vocal range whilst covering styles he had not at that point tried - and, indeed, moods and emotions he had not at that point tried, with regret, boredom and paranoia shot through the album.

Obvious highlights include "Nightclubbing" and "Funtime", but dig a little deeper and we have the shattered pop of "Baby", like a snarling Gary Numan, a take of "China Girl" that is likely to confuse and unnerve those more used to the later and far more sanitary Bowie version, and the sax-drenched after hours lament of "Tiny Girls".  By the time you've lived through the inhuman closing epic, "Mass Production", you're left in no doubt that Iggy's a lot more than a one trick pony.  But there was more where that came from, and no mistake...

Join us next time for a million in prizes.

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