Iggy Pop - The Idiot - Review
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critics' view

Three years after the break-up of The Stooges, Iggy Pop was back on the scene, with a whole batch of new songs mainly co-written with his friend, David Bowie, who had supported him as he tried to break free from his heroin addiction in the preceding years. Many Iggy Pop fans were quite shocked by the radical departure stylistically. Where the Stooges had been loud and raucous protopunk agitators, Iggy solo was much more contemplative and, shock-horror, more artsy. It’s generally acknowledged that this is Bowie’s doing as he himself later revealed: “Poor Jim, in a way, became a guinea pig for what I wanted to do with sound. I didn't have the material at the time, and I didn't feel like writing at all. I felt much more like laying back and getting behind someone else's work, so that album was opportune, creatively.” The truth is that this arrangement was good for both parties – it seems clear that Iggy gets into his role as a cultured crooner of la nouvelle vague.

Night Clubbing” is an early album highlight, built on a loping drum-machine beat, with prominent piano and keyboards by Bowie, as well as some wah-wah guitar which is actually quite appealing and doesn’t overstay its welcome. For his part, Iggy does a great impersonation of Lou Reed circa Transformer – the whole thing is a blast. Closing side 1 is “China Girl”, the tastiest serving that the album has to offer. Here, East meets West musically and romantically, as Iggy declares his infatuation with Kuelan Nguyen, a beautiful Vietnamese woman with whom he has recently been enchanted. Neither can speak a word of the other’s language and the “ssssshhhhhhhh” from her to him speaks a thousand words. They don’t all live up to these high watermarks, but it’s great to have Iggy back in action.

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