Review Summary: Returning from a potentially fatal addiction, Iggy Pop, with the help of David Bowie, makes a triumphant return to the music scene...
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the godfather of punk, Iggy Pop? Is it his energetic live performances? Or his notorious drug stints? One thing that surely doesn’t come to mind to Stooges fans is Iggy doing brooding art-rock, especially in the year of 1977, the year when punk exploded in the United Kingdom. “The Idiot” tends to surprise most at first listen, especially those who are expecting a wild mess of primal screams and wah-wah guitar akin to “Dirt” and “1970”. With the big difference in both the music and attitude, “The Idiot” makes for a very great introduction to Iggy Pop’s solo career.
On “The Idiot”, many things are present. Throughout the album, piano and synthesizers are prominent, hammering in the influence of krautrock and Pop’s time in Berlin with David Bowie, who had a big influence in production of this album. With “Sister Midnight”, a track originally written by Bowie and with another verse added by Pop, tells of a man’s oedipal lust and the trouble that followed, sets the dark tone for the album.
Tracks such as “Nightclubbing”, “China Girl”, and “Dum Dum Boys”, are all in a way, autobiographical tracks, spanning from the nightlife of Berlin; to the failed attempt to gain a woman’s love; and to an abridged history of The Stooges, from their first meeting in the late sixties to their subsequent fates following their final breakup in 1974. “Tiny Girls”, another autobiographic track about Pop’s failed love life with younger women, has maintained a little legacy of its own, with it being one of the two tracks that has been claimed to be the song that Joy Division front-man, Ian Curtis hanged himself to, making itself an irrelevant footnote in the legacy of this album.
In retrospective, “The Idiot” makes for a stunning debut album, especially from someone who had fell so far down into the slums of drug addiction, only to rise to the top, gaining hard-earned success at last. The only problem was how exactly would he follow up to this album and make it as good, or better, as “The Idiot”?