Iggy Pop

iggypop_030Iggy Pop was born James Newell Osterberg in 1947. He adopted the name ‘Iggy’ after drumming with a Detroit punk band called The Iguanas.

In 1966 Iggy Pop saw The Doors at his local Detroit bar. “I loved the antagonism,” he later recalled of Jim Morrison. “I loved that he was pissing people off.”

Whether painting himself silver, vomiting over the audience or issuing a screaming live album recorded on a cassette player, Pop and The Stooges kept this manifesto close.

Yet The Stooges’ full metal racket concealed one of rock’s most characterful voices, as evinced decades later by his masterful covers of Louis Armstrong and Cole Porter standards.

In the eight years between The Stooges’ debut album and Iggy’s 1977 The Idiot LP, Iggy Pop burned brighter and fell more spectacularly than any other artist of his generation.

Sobering up from a self-imposed stint in a mental institution, Detroit’s finest was aching for a second chance, but record labels were understandably wary of taking a chance on one of rock’s greatest flakes. Enter his fairy godmother, David Bowie.

Bowie, who had worked with Iggy Pop on 1974’s Raw Power, pulled together a band and brought Iggy to Berlin, where the Thin White Duke was mining a rich seam of inspiration. Out went the wild abandon of The Stooges‘ raucous guitar and rhythm section, and a more cerebral, subdued sound developed in the songs the pair co-wrote.

iggypop_622Keyboards and bass figured heavily, leading Iggy to dub the sound “James Brown meets Kraftwerk“.

Like The Idiot, Iggy’s next album Lust For Life (1977) was recorded in Berlin’s Hansa Studios, just by the Wall, but where the first album had been more contemplative and influenced by producer Bowie, Lust… represented a return to the more punchy sound of The Stooges (although Bowie did play piano and contribute vocals).

From the ebullient drum intro of the title track, the songs are driven by the rhythm section of Hunt and Tony Sales (on drums and bass respectively), the second pair of brothers to fulfil this role for Iggy.

The Sales brothers would later reappear as half of Tin Machine, Bowie’s late-80s stab at art-house hard rock.

Lyrically, Lust For Life is a revelation, as Iggy uses the experience of his troubled years to great effect on The Passenger, a jaunt through a metropolis of excesses which, while he may not be able to sample them any more himself, are picture-perfectly recalled.