Iggy Pop
The Idiot


5.0
classic

Review

by Major Tom CONTRIBUTOR (139 Reviews)
September 3rd, 2011 | 31 replies


Release Date: 1977 | Tracklist

Review Summary: If there’s one thing David Bowie and Iggy Pop are not, its idiots.

What would you expect from an ex-Stooge and an iconic musical chameleon? For fans of either artist, the predictability of what their first album-length collaboration would sound like was surely far from anything like the revolutionary post-punk dirge of The Idiot. The 1977 record didn’t sound like the hard-rocking, punk precursor of The Stooges sound, nor did it resemble Bowie’s alien-infused glam rock. What the Dostoyevsky-inspired album (or at least its title was influenced by his eponymous book) did sound like, was something completely fresh and ground-breaking; and in the eyes of some, The Idiot was technically the first chapter in Bowie’s legendary Berlin period, on account its material being written in mid-1976, i.e. before work on Low had begun.

Although The Idiot is most effectively categorised as post-punk, its influences and mix of genres are disparate to say the least. Taking elements of funk, krautrock, industrial, rock and electronica, the album boats a highly distinctive and deceptively varied sound. Despite its undercurrent of eclecticism, The Idiot is a very metallic and clinical record – its subtle traces of seemingly incompatible genres are capably moulded into a menacing post-punk cadence by Bowie’s Alomar/Davis/Murray rhythm section, who served him more than splendidly on his classic Station To Station LP, and several of its successors.

The deconstructed funk of the oedipal dream cum nightmare, ‘Sister Midnight’, sets the brooding tone of the album perfectly. Pop’s voice is a deep, gothic crawl, sounding as though he could lapse into roaring anger at any moment (and does so several times on the album, in actuality), and sits alongside angular guitars, stringent bass lines, punchy percussion and synthetic tinges, which make up the musical end of the cut. ‘Nightclubbing’s cheap drum machine and sleazy synth blurps serve as a suitable backdrop to the filthy cityscape imagery conjured by the lyrics and tone of the number, whilst ‘Mass Production’ boats a grimy proto-industrial tune, adding to the album’s variedness.

Further highlights include the suffocated kick of the gothic ‘Funtime’, the gloomy Bowie sax and angst-ridden lyrics of ‘Tiny Girls’, and the infectious, crawling riff of ‘Dum Dum Boys’ – a sublime 7 minute nod to Pop’s Stooge past. Perhaps the most stunning track on offer is ‘China Girl’. What would be turned into a glimmering pop hit by its Bowie co-writer in 1983, here, serves as a complete parallel to the aforementioned version, sounding menacingly dark and brooding, with its fractured melody soon evolving into a paranoid swirl of distorted guitars, gorgeous synths and gruesome vocals and lyrics, all blending together to create an undisputed epic and this writer’s favourite version of the song.

The Idiot is every bit as stunning as you’d expect from two of rock’s most iconic and important stars, and then some. What’s more, The Idiot proved massively influential to the post-punk genre that was soon to emerge, and impressively, this was achieved whilst punk was simultaneously polishing its crown atop the throne of contemporary cool. You can hear traces of Bowie and Pop’s bleak, robotic rock in many succeeding bands; Joy Division deserving a particular mention. Singer/songwriter Ian Curtis sadly chose The Idiot to be his last listening experience on the night of his suicide - perhaps the most startling symbol of the album’s influence on him; arguably, post-punk’s most tragic and ultimate icon. A consistently stunning and ground-breaking listen which breathed life into Iggy Pop’s declining career, The Idiot is unequivocally one of the most defining and essential albums of its era.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Voivod
Staff Reviewer
September 3rd 2011


6339 Comments


Superbly written major Tom :-P, pos.


Are you going to do the whole Iggy Pop discog?

Digging: Madred - Supersonic Brainfuck Overdrive

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
September 3rd 2011


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Thanks, Voivod. I doubt i'll do the whole discog, i just felt like reviewing something because it's been a while since my Bowie discog and this album is something i wanted to write about for a long time.

jefflebowski
September 3rd 2011


8257 Comments


awesome review

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
September 3rd 2011


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Thanks, jefflebowski.


Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
September 3rd 2011


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Cheers, but that 3.5 stings my eyes.

AggravatedYeti
September 3rd 2011


7685 Comments


oh look who's back.

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
September 3rd 2011


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

oh look who's back.

...with a vengeance!


Meatplow
September 3rd 2011


5524 Comments


love this

great review

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
September 3rd 2011


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Me too, and thanks.

WhiteNoise
September 3rd 2011


3253 Comments


Love this album. Bought it last week and you can really see how it influenced a lot of bands (Joy Division and Queens of the stone age come to mind)

Awesome review, it's also interesting just how much different lust for life sounds compared to this.

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
September 3rd 2011


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Thanks man. I love this too, we agree about its influence on certain bands (Joy Division), but i can't see the QOTSA link tbh, man.

WhiteNoise
September 6th 2011


3253 Comments


I sort of just meant the very robotic vibe/riffs. I admit it was a bit of a stretch haha.

rockandmetaljunkie
December 11th 2011


3848 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great review tom

rockandmetaljunkie
December 11th 2011


3848 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Tom, you should also review "Lust for Life".

dylantheairplane
December 13th 2012


2171 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Dat bass on "Baby"

YankeeDudel
March 18th 2013


9313 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

IGGY IGGY IGGY PLEASE SEX ME

Digging: Taj Mahal Travellers - August 1974

WhiteNoise
March 18th 2013


3253 Comments


I totally forgot how amazing 'fun time' is until I heard it again today!

DikkoZinner
July 8th 2013


3393 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Iggy

tommygun
September 2nd 2013


25413 Comments


groovin to dum dum boys

Digging: Banks - Goddess

ShitsofRain
February 26th 2014


5956 Comments


dum dum



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