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UPDATE: Mediafire have suspended my account and locked my downloads. Having endured the tedium of re-uploading everything I had previously hosted on Mega Upload onto Mediafire earlier this year, I can't be arsed re-uploading everything again.

So please don't ask for things to be reuploaded!

I undertake this venture knowing that I don't have the spare time to do it, but feel that these artists NEED TO BE HEARD (please excuse my shouting!). Or is that I think I need to be heard? Or that there are (or have been) some great music blogs that have inspired me to wanna jump on the bandwagon? Probably all of the above??I hope you enjoy the blog. If I turn one person onto these bands that turned me on then it will all have been worth it!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Iggy Pop - The Idiot

From the ridiculous of my previous post to the sublime......

I'm not sure how many Bowie biographies have been written, but I've made it a goal to read as many of them as possible. I've also recently read Tony Visconti's excellent autobiography, which provides a fascinating insight into the recording of Young Americans, the "Berlin trilogy", and some of Bowie's more recent albums.

I'm currently reading the most recent Bowie biography, Starman, by Paul Trynka. While this book provides insights that had previously alluded me (e.g. the similarity between "Life on Mars" and "My Way", and "Starman" and "Somewhere over the rainbow"), it sometimes barely acknowledges some of the key events in Bowie's life and career (e.g. the exorcism!). Having written a book myself*, I understand the complexities in deciding what material to use. Having said that, I love the everything and the kitchen sink approach used by Jimmy McDonough in his Neil Young opus, Shakey. But in Starman, it feels like the author has sacrificed some commonly known material that may have provided a more fully rounded discussion for the sake of including new and revelatory material that is interesting but sometimes not entirely relevant. In summary, a good book for the Bowie completist, but arguably not as good for the casual reader.

But the author makes one excellent proposition of which I am in full agreement - the lack of acclaim given to Bowie's contribution to Iggy Pop's The Idiot when assessing Bowie's songwriting accomplishments.

Iggy accompanied Bowie throughout the latters European Station to Station tour, and afterwards the two decamped to Château d'Hérouville in France to record Iggy's first solo album. The album was made with the understanding that Bowie would have the first right to use any material developed for his own purposes. Perhaps unexpectedly, Bowie claimed ownership of the more avant garde material, leaving Iggy with the more "commercial" material - although the album could hardly be considered commercial! Bowie was emerging from the cocaine induced psychosis of his Los Angeles years, while Iggy was at a low ebb following a debilitating heroin addiction that ultimately led to the demise of The Stooges. This scenario manifested itself into twisted, gnarly off the wall music, desperate lyrics, and vocals reflective of someone at the end of their tether. Is it any wonder that The Idiot was a major influence on Joy Division, and was reputedly the last album played by Ian Curtis before he left us all for a better place?

The best known song on The Idiot is China Girl, a monster hit for Bowie some six years later when re-recorded for his Let's Dance album. I know it is de rigueur among music snobs to heap praise on the original version and diss Bowie's version, but in my book they are both superb. Iggy's version is more musically expansive, but Bowie's version is as close to pop perfection as it is possible to get.

Opening track Sister Midnight was also re-recorded by Bowie as Red Money, the final track from the final album of the Berlin trilogy, Lodger. But in this instance I have to give the gong to Iggy's version for having better lyrics, and for being spookier and  more atmospheric. In contrast, Nightclubbing is almost jaunty, but no less excellent.

Funtime is probably best known for being recorded by R.E.M. as the b-side for Get Up in 1989. But the  R.E.M. is extremely lame in comparison to the malevolent, prowling electronic beast featured here.

But my favourite tracks are the slow and snarling Dum Dum Boys and Mass Production. Superb.

As superb as Raw Power and Funhouse are, this is Iggy's finest hour in my book - and one of Bowie's as well.


Iggy Pop - 1977 - The Idiot

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


* actually, I wrote a scientific thesis, which had a massive print run of.....TEN! But let's not let accuracy get in the way of a good story!


  1. nice write up champ! i don't completely agree with all of it, but a lovely piece nonetheless. the idiot sounds quite tame now, but when it came out it was like nothing i'd ever heard. after this and Lust For Life the Ig went on to lesser things...

  2. Thanks bedlam! And thanks for your honesty, but you've intrigued me - what didn't you agree with?

  3. just the bit about china girl... i am one of those music snobs, i really don't like bowie's version :)

  4. Fair enough! I heard Bowie's version first so that was well ingrained in my brain before I heard Iggy's version.