Iggy Pop – The Idiot (1977)

AllMusic Review: 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 longtime 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-fueled 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 it’s 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. — Mark Deming

Track Listing

Side one
  1. “Sister Midnight” – 4:19
  2. “Nightclubbing” – 4:14
  3. “Funtime” – 2:54
  4. “Baby” – 3:24
  5. “China Girl” – 5:08
Side two
  1. “Dum Dum Boys” – 7:12
  2. “Tiny Girls” – 2:59
  3. “Mass Production” – 8:24

 

Schill Score:  6/10

 

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Iggy Pop – Lust For Life (1977)

AllMusic Review: On The Idiot, Iggy Pop looked deep inside himself, trying to figure out how his life and his art had gone wrong in the past. But on Lust for Life, released less than a year later, Iggy decided it was time to kick up his heels, as he traded in the midtempo introspection of his first album and began rocking hard again. Musically, Lust for Life is a more aggressive set than The Idiot, largely thanks to drummer Hunt Sales and his bassist brother Tony Sales. The Sales proved they were a world-class rhythm section, laying out power and spirit on the rollicking title cut, the tough groove of “Tonight,” and the lean neo-punk assault of “Neighborhood Threat,” and with guitarists Ricky Gardiner and Carlos Alomar at their side, they made for a tough, wiry rock & roll band — a far cry from the primal stomp of the Stooges, but capable of kicking Iggy back into high gear. (David Bowie played piano and produced, as he had on The Idiot, but his presence is less clearly felt on this album.) As a lyricist and vocalist, Iggy Pop rose to the challenge of the material; if he was still obsessed with drugs (“Tonight”), decadence (“The Passenger”), and bad decisions (“Some Weird Sin”), the title cut suggested he could avoid a few of the temptations that crossed his path, and songs like “Success” displayed a cocky joy that confirmed Iggy was back at full strength. On Lust for Life, Iggy Pop managed to channel the aggressive power of his work with the Stooges with the intelligence and perception of The Idiot, and the result was the best of both worlds; smart, funny, edgy, and hard-rocking, Lust for Life is the best album of Iggy Pop’s solo career. — Mark Deming

Track Listing

Side one
No. Title Music composer(s) Length
1. “Lust for Life” David Bowie 5:13
2. “Sixteen” Pop 2:26
3. “Some Weird Sin” Bowie 3:42
4. “The Passenger” Ricky Gardiner 4:44
5. “Tonight” Bowie 3:39
Side two
No. Title Music composer(s) Length
6. “Success” Bowie, Gardiner 4:25
7. “Turn Blue” Bowie, Warren Peace 6:56
8. “Neighborhood Threat” Bowie, Gardiner 3:25
9. “Fall in Love with Me” Bowie, Hunt Sales, Tony Sales 6:30

 

Schill Score: 6.75/10

 

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Iggy & The Stooges – Raw Power (1973)

Allmusic review In 1972, the Stooges were near the point of collapse when David Bowie’s management team, MainMan, took a chance on the band at Bowie’s behest. By this point, guitarist Ron Asheton and bassist Dave Alexander had been edged out of the picture, and James Williamson had signed on as Iggy’s new guitar mangler; Asheton rejoined the band shortly before recording commenced on Raw Power, but was forced to play second fiddle to Williamson as bassist. By most accounts, tensions were high during the recording of Raw Power, and the album sounds like the work of a band on its last legs — though rather than grinding to a halt, Iggy & the Stooges appeared ready to explode like an ammunition dump. From a technical standpoint, Williamson was a more gifted guitar player than Asheton (not that that was ever the point), but his sheets of metallic fuzz were still more basic (and punishing) than what anyone was used to in 1973, while Ron Asheton played his bass like a weapon of revenge, and his brother Scott Asheton remained a powerhouse behind the drums. But the most remarkable change came from the singer; Raw Power revealed Iggy as a howling, smirking, lunatic genius. Whether quietly brooding (“Gimme Danger”) or inviting the apocalypse (“Search and Destroy”), Iggy had never sounded quite so focused as he did here, and his lyrics displayed an intensity that was more than a bit disquieting. In many ways, almost all Raw Power has in common with the two Stooges albums that preceded it is its primal sound, but while the Stooges once sounded like the wildest (and weirdest) gang in town, Raw Power found them heavily armed and ready to destroy the world — that is, if they didn’t destroy themselves first. [After its release, Iggy was known to complain that David Bowie’s mix neutered the ferocity of the original recordings. In time it became conventional wisdom that Bowie’s mix spoiled a potential masterpiece, so much so that in 1997, when Columbia made plans to issue a new edition of Raw Power, they brought in Pop to remix the original tapes and (at least in theory) give us the “real” version we’d been denied all these years. Then the world heard Pop’s painfully harsh and distorted version of Raw Power, and suddenly Bowie’s tamer but more dynamic mix didn’t sound so bad, after all. In 2010, the saga came full-circle when Columbia released a two-disc “Legacy Edition” of the album that featured Bowie’s original mix in remastered form] — Mark Deming

track listing

 

Side one
No. Title Length
1. “Search and Destroy” 3:29
2. “Gimme Danger” 3:33
3. “Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell” (originally titled “Hard to Beat”) 4:54
4. “Penetration” 3:41
Side two
No. Title Length
1. “Raw Power” 4:16
2. “I Need Somebody” 4:53
3. “Shake Appeal” 3:04
4. “Death Trip” 6:07

 

 

Schill Score:  6/10

 

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The Stooges – The Stooges (1969)

AllMusic Review: While the Stooges had a few obvious points of influence — the swagger of the early Rolling Stones, the horny pound of the Troggs, the fuzztone sneer of a thousand teenage garage bands, and the Velvet Underground’s experimental eagerness to leap into the void — they didn’t really sound like anyone else around when their first album hit the streets in 1969. It’s hard to say if Ron Asheton, Scott Asheton, Dave Alexander, and the man then known as Iggy Stooge were capable of making anything more sophisticated than this, but if they were, they weren’t letting on, and the best moments of this record document the blithering inarticulate fury of the post-adolescent id. Ron Asheton’s guitar runs (fortified with bracing use of fuzztone and wah-wah) are so brutal and concise they achieve a naïve genius, while Scott Asheton’s proto-Bo Diddley drums and Dave Alexander’s solid bass stomp these tunes into submission with a force that inspires awe. And Iggy’s vividly blank vocals fill the “so what?” shrug of a thousand teenagers with a wealth of palpable arrogance and wondrous confusion. One of the problems with being a trailblazing pioneer is making yourself understood to others, and while John Cale seemed sympathetic to what the band was doing, he didn’t appear to quite get it, and as a result he made a physically powerful band sound a bit sluggish on tape. But “1969,” “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” “Real Cool Time,” “No Fun,” and other classic rippers are on board, and one listen reveals why they became clarion calls in the punk rock revolution. Part of the fun of The Stooges is, then as now, the band managed the difficult feat of sounding ahead of their time and entirely out of their time, all at once. — Mark Deming

Track Listing:

Side A
No. Title Length
1. “1969” 4:05
2. “I Wanna Be Your Dog” 3:09
3. “We Will Fall” 10:18
Side B
No. Title Length
1. “No Fun” 5:14
2. “Real Cool Time” 2:29
3. “Ann” 3:00
4. “Not Right” 2:50
5. “Little Doll” 3:20

 

Schill Score: 3/10

 

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