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TALK ABOUT POP’S MUSIC

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iggy-pop

Long before the sad and sobering adverts for car insurance, James Osterberg Jr made some very important and very influential records. Particularly two LPs that were released in 1977 – The Idiot and Lust for Life – both partly-written, wholly produced and very heavily influenced by David Bowie.

It was the Bowie connection that led to Mrs V purchasing both albums at the time, and they take a proud place in among the many other bits of plastic that sit within the cupboard just yards from where I’m sitting typing these words.

Its quaint to read the words printed on the back of The Idiot:-

Stereo records give full stereo reproduction when played on a stereo record player. They can be played om most modern mono players fitted with a lightweight tone arm and pick-up head and the sound reproduction will be monoaural. If you have any doubts and wish to avoid damaging your equipment or records, consult your dealer.

Given the prodigious amounts of drugs that were consumed during the course of making these records, I’ve a feeling that Iggy Pop would have been consulting an altogether different type of dealer.

Lust For Life contains one of the greatest songs ever recorded. Fact.

mp3 : Iggy Pop – The Passenger

Hard to believe now that it was passed over as a single and instead relegated to the b-side of Success, which was the only 45 lifted from the LP at the time.

And I wonder how many readers are aware of a very strong Scottish connection with The Passenger…..

Well, the music was written by Ricky Gardiner who first came to prominence in the very early 70s as a founder member of Beggars Opera, a prog rock band from Glasgow (although Gardiner himself was from Edinburgh). They never achieved much as a band, but Gardiner was by the mid 70s part of Bowie’s backing band and part of the entourage that hooked up with Iggy. And its his playing of the distinctive riff that has filled many a floor at an indie disco the world over.

One of the best tracks on The Idiot is this:-

mp3 : Iggy Pop – Nightclubbing

It is highly representative of the dark and raw sound that dominates the LP.

A few years later, Half Man Half Biscuit took the piss out of it somewhat:-

mp3 : Half Man Half Biscuit – Seal Clubbing

Sadly however, the The Idiot is an LP that for many has become synomomous with tragedy, thanks to the fact that it was the last record played by Ian Curtis on the night he hanged himself….whether or not it was actually playing as he took his last breath we will never know.

WHAT COMES INTO YOUR MIND WHEN YOU HEAR THIS SONG?

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mp3 : Iggy Pop – Lust For Life

For years, it was always the downstairs alternative disco within Strathclyde University’s Student Union.  Level 8 was the main place for live acts and a half decent indie and pop disco but two floors down, in what usually functioned as the main dining hall, you’d find a DJ playing more obscure and cult material. Iggy Pop featured every week, alternating between The Passenger and Lust For Life (it was vinyl in those days and I’m guessing that was the only LP that the student union had!)

Moving forward more than a decade and the song became synonymous with the opening few minutes of the film Trainspotting as Renton (Ewan McGregor) and Spud (Ewan Bremner) sprint down Princes Street in Edinburgh pursued by security guards after a shoplifting incident gone wrong. The joy and surprise of seeing so many familiar locations come to life on the big screen was part of what made that film so special, and every time I walk up Leith Walk and pass its junction with Calton Road I instantly recall the moment where Renton sprints down the sorts set of stairs and seconds later narrowly avoids getting killed by a car emerging from a side street as Iggy’s song pounds away in the background.

Almost 20 years later and I’ve a third abiding memory and that’s of Johnny Marr and his cohorts blasting out a tremendous live version from the stage of the O2 Academy in Glasgow. In a gig packed with many highlights, including some astonishingly good versions of Smiths songs, the unexpected blast of Lust for Life was just as much a stand-out.

It wasn’t originally released as a single in the UK but was readily available on import from the Netherlands where it went Top 3, with this same track on the b-side as had been put on the UK release of The Passenger:-

mp3 : Iggy Pop – Success

1977?  Still sounds incredible and fresh today.