Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Iggy and Ziggy

Tonight, I got on the subway thinking about "Lust for Life". I cued it up on my iPod and the Sales brothers hammered that endless chord progression on my head. Lust for Life is a great record but its very different from The Idiot. (I plan to explore that record more later on). Thinking about the two records, I really see them as a result of a perfect storm of creative forces.

I'm not such a big fan of David Bowie. He's a great song writer, amazing singer (see the outro to Lou Reed's "Satellite of Love" on Transformer) but something rings hollow about many of his songs. They don't seem meaningful. I also don't like many of the drum sounds he put to tape, especially earlier in his career.

But Bowie as a mentor and producer is outstanding (Again, check out his production work on "Transformer"). From my reading, it seems that he rescued both Iggy Pop's career and Jim Osterberg's life.

Regardless, Iggy Pop is a compelling singer and performer. We see this in greater relief on "Lust for Life" but at this mid-career period, we see much more emotional range from him than from the Stooges days (more on this later). And this gets to the back story behind "The Idiot". Iggy is cleaning up his life after basically living on the streets doing whatever he can to stay high.

Perhaps each saw in the other what he could never be... Iggy was free and wild, Bowie was refined and controlled. The creative union of these two musicians is quite incredible. Iggy's life experience and wild, menacing, hypersexual, self-destructive ways, mated to Bowie's refined consistency, strong melody / harmony writing and pop sensibilities simply clicked.

Postscript: True, Ziggy and Iggy turned out great work (including Blah Blah Blah?), but lest you think that Iggy was incapable of turning out a decent record without Bowie's help, see New Values.


Rodger Jollie said...

now there's a cute couple!! you can learn a whole lot from those 2

Anonymous said...

how can you not be a fan of david bowie, yet devote an entire blog to an album he basically created ?? without bowie there never would have been "the idiot" and its safe to say bowie wrote all the music whereas iggy wrote the lyrics....... iggy was more or less the "muse" for this album which showcased iggy's strong personality, style, lyrics and vocals.

Gorm said...

Great stuff, but please replace that sacrilegious CD-version of the LFL-cover!

Gorm said...

You've probably seen Uncut's Album by album- feature? On LFL (would surely love to know which classics they ripped off):
"Bowie was tired of spending time on my projects and I think he wanted to get it over with really quickly, so: ‘Let’s just rock and get this guy out of my hair.’ The whole thing was written sitting on our backs in his apartment with his kid’s ukulele. He nicked a call signal off a US Armed Forces broadcast and did the changes. ‘Call this “Lust For Life”,’ he said. ‘Now come up with a song.’ I did it. “We booked one day in the studio to write and he sat at the piano and he’d name famous rock songs and say, ‘OK, we’re now gonna rewrite “_____”. Then he’d play some music and I’d record it. It was total cynicism. ‘We’re now gonna rewrite this one.’ Then he’d knock out something and I’d record it. ‘Sixteen’ I did on my own, it was the sort of thing I used to write for The Stooges. ‘Turn Blue’ was left from some experimental work I had done with Bowie in the mid-’70s when we were both out of our minds on coke in LA. So, we had a structure and we went in and recorded it with a very resourceful German engineer who looked like the devil. It was done in a relatively small room in eight days and all during that time my diet was cocaine, German grosse bier, sausages and bratwurst. Appropriate. We had the meat on the brat. ‘The Passenger’ was derived from the Antonioni film, the Morrison poem, and a lick that I was doodling in the studio. It was never supposed to be a song. They used to let me go walkies with the group for an hour in the Neuropsychiatric Institute in Westwood and I saw Antonioni’s The Passenger was playing at the Westwood Theater and it made a big impression on me."