Review Summary: Iggy Pop's second solo album as well as second collaberation with David Bowie is one of his best post-Stooges albums and contains some of his signature songs
1977 was not only a big year for punk rock, but was also a big year for Iggy Pop, one of it’s pioneers. After the demise of The Stooges in '74 he went on a bit of a hiatus. During Pop’s time with The Stooges, he had developed a serious drug addiction, which was one of the causes for bands downfall. Even after meeting David Bowie in 1971, who made an effort to revive his career, the drugs still prevailed. In 1975, Pop recorded some work with Stooges guitarist James Williamson, though nothing was released that year (but was released in late’ 77 as Kill City
). During this time, Iggy was also instated in rehab/mental institution to try and clean up his act. By 1976, David Bowie, who by now was a good friend of Pop’s, took Iggy along tour with him in another attempt to revitalize the sinking career. This was Iggy’s first real exposure in popular music, seeing how The Stooges did not sell many records at the time and as Bowie was at the height of his popularity in his Ziggy Stardust era.
By now the two were located in Berlin, where Bowie would make this ‘Berlin Trilogy’ of albums and also help Iggy set off on a solo career. And although Pop was still on heroin, it wasn’t as bad as before was obviously able to carry on through the albums. The first album of Pop’s solo career was The Idiot
, released in the spring of 1977 and was practically given equal credits between Pop and Bowie, with the former writing the lyrics and the latter writing the music. The album itself was raw, atmospheric, generally mid-tempo and somewhat darker than later releases from his, and has been cited has influences for many post-punk acts to follow. Lust For Life
, the latter of the two released in 1977 (not counting ‘Kill City’) was released months later. Lust For Life
has a much more rock and roll driven sound rather than the experimentations of The Idiot and is said to be a better reflection of Pop himself. The album, along with The Idiot
, remains two of the most popular in the Iggy Pop catalogue.
Much like its predecessor, the lyrics are written by Pop while the music is for the most part written by Bowie with contributions from the other members of the band including Brothers Tony and Hunt Sales and guitarist Ricky Gardiner. Lyrics on the album sometimes reflect Pop’s current state of mind, as in most writers. He was still into heroin and these lyrics are portrayed in songs such as the seven minute Turn Blue
, both two of the gloomier songs found here. However, the title track and Success
have much more positive and less abrasive messages. The Passenger
has some of the best lyrics on album has Pop sings from a point of view of an outcast and was supposedly written while on a train in Germany.
The rock and roll vibe of the album, reminiscent of some Stooges material, is immediately felt with the familiar drumbeat leading into the title track. The song should be known to anyone, if not by Pop then by the numerous number of bands that have ‘slightly’ altered it in the future, mostly noticeably in the mainstream with Jet’s Are You Gonna Be My Girl
. The track is an obvious standout and extremely catchy and upbeat due to the keen drum work throughout. The song has since been covered by many groups including The Damned, Yo La Tengo and The Pretenders. But to contrast with the rather happy feeling title track is another one of Pop’s best known tracks of his career. The Passenger
is a dreary, haunting and indeed memorable song and is key here. With such simple, yet highly effective guitar, Pop’s monotone vocals and the lingering ‘la la la’s’ in the chorus the song could have been placed and fit right in on The Idiot and is my pick for best on the album. These two tracks are two of the main reasons why the album is remembered and remain two of Pop’s best.
Other, lesser known songs showcase some of his best work and add to the albums overall consistency. Some Weird Sin
is a solid rock song with that raw feel to that echoes through much of the album, highlighted by a catchy guitar riff and one of Iggy’s best vocal outings. Neighborhood Threat
follows along similar lines to Some Weird Sin and was later re-recorded for Bowie’s 1984 album entitled ‘Tonight
’, something that Bowie started with China Girl
from ‘The Idiot’. The song Tonight
is a lovely ballad with one of Gardiner’s best guitar playing on the album. The addition of bothers Hunt and Tony Sales for the album, who play drums and bass, respectively, was a great choice. Sales bass really shines though on tracks such as Some Weird Sin
and The Passenger
and Hunt’s aggressive style is best shown on the title track. Success
, which was actually released as the single for the album, is one that stands out, but not necessarily for the better. Bowie contributes greatly to the song by playing piano and lending a good deal of backing vocals, however the song does drag even if it does add some diversity to the record. The album finale Fall In Love With Me
is a six and a half minute song which almost comes off as a jam session seeing how the guitars don’t really fit with the vocals at all. The song is perhaps overly monotone and mid-tempo but nevertheless a fitting end to an excellent album.
Iggy Pop’s second solo effort Lust For Life
is impressive and shows him and Bowie make a good team, which could be why this and his debut are often said to be Pop’s best post-Stooges albums. The album delivers some of Iggy’s best rock songs, but at the same time it is an early punk album in many ways. Dubbed the name ‘The Godfather of Punk’, Pop carries on the feel of his early work with The Stooges and a new sound that influenced countless punk acts after with his raw sound, gritty nihilistic attitude and outrageous stage performances. While not the most diverse or easiest album to get into, Lust For Life
is an excellent and influential album good for fans of The Stooges, proto punk or simply some rock and roll.