Iggy Pop and David Bowie – two decades of uneasy collaboration Part 2: the ‘80s

Music review / Article – by Morgan Thistlethwaite

Iggy_Bowie_1986

In this two-part series, I look at every album that, for better or worse, rock icons David Bowie and Iggy Pop share credits.

Find Part 1: the ‘70s here.

Tonight from 1984 is Bowie’s follow-up to the commercial success of Let’s Dance (1983).

David Bowie – Tonight (1984)

david-bowie_tonight

Iggy’s presence on this record is not comparable to that of Bowie on the Iggy Pop records. However, including Tonight, Iggy is credited on five of the nine tracks with this mess of an album.

Don’t get me wrong, Blue Jean (with its mini-film Jazzin’ For Blue Jean by Julien Temple) is a classic pop song and Loving the Alien Doesn’t fair too badly either, but these two tracks show little to no evidence of input from Iggy.

For the title track, Bowie brought in Tina Tuner to duet with on this neutered (drug references removed) reggae version of Iggy’s song, and it sounds as bad as it looks on paper, believe me.

Neighborhood Threat, also from Lust For Life, makes the cut as well. Iggy’s 1977 version sounds very much like a precursor to what Bowie ends up doing on Scary Monsters and Super Creeps (1980). Perhaps if Bowie had delivered his version a few years earlier, it could have sounded better than it does here.

The third Iggy Pop cover present is Don’t Look Down from New Values (1979), his first solo record without Bowie. The original is a decent soul-influenced track that wouldn’t feel too out of place on Bowie’s Young Americans (1975). For some reason, Bowie gives this a reggae twist as well.

Two original tracks are credited to the pair: Tumble and Twirl and Dancing with the Big Boys. The former rolls along just like its namesake. With a heavy horn rhythm section, this track feels very of its time but solid, nonetheless. The latter includes Iggy on vocals and is very much a signal of what Bowie’s next studio album will sound like.

An album with less than fifty percent new material, Bowie said of Tonight:

…I thought it a kind of violent effort at a kind of Pin Ups.

Pin Ups was a collection of covers from 1973 released to cash in on the success of Aladdin Sane.

Blah-Blah-Blah (1986)

Blahblahblah

Iggy says this is not his album. The most well-known song on here is the re-worked Johnny O’Keefe track Real Wild Child (Wild One). Half of the album is written with or by Bowie. It’s sound is a pop album with some kind of punk rock edge. It’s even got Steve Jones on it, how punk is that? Mind you, the tracks written with Jones don’t sound anything like the Sex Pistols.

Still, the tracks credited with Bowie sound like what he will do in future with Tin Machine (1988-1992). For those that don’t know, Tin Machine was Bowie’s attempt to shed his popstar skin to become one of the boys. Those boys included, not coincidentally, the Sales brothers—rhythm section from the Lust for Life (1977) album.

However Iggy feels about it, Blah-Blah-Blah is a solid album and his most commercially successful. Also, Cry for Love (one of the three songs co-written with Jones), is a killer track.

This is the last album that Iggy and Bowie will make together.


Never-Let-Me-Down

Bowie’s following studio album Never Let Me Down (1987) features a cover of Bang Bang from Iggy’s Party (1981). It pales in comparison to the original but it’s better than anything that features Mickey Rourke rapping on it.

Iggy Pop and David Bowie – two decades of uneasy collaboration Part 1: the ‘70s

Music review / Article – by Morgan Thistlethwaite

Bowie_Iggy_1977

In this two-part series, I look at the albums that rock-icons David Bowie and Iggy Pop, for better or worse, share credits.

Iggy Pop’s album Post-Pop Depression (2016) was unfortunately timely. Recorded in secrecy with Josh Homme and friends the year before, it was released in the months following the death of David Bowie. Not only is it the poignant statement of a punk-rock god feeling that perhaps he’s not long for this world, but also a great addition to an already-impressive body of work. It was this album that got me thinking about the relationship of Bowie and Iggy.

Post_Pop_Depression_(Front_Cover)

Individually, the pair are no strangers to collaboration. Each have a string of recordings that draw on the talents of others, but among those, the entwined relationship of this pair is unique. It’s also fair to say that one may simply not exist as we know them today without the influence of the other.

This relationship tracks back to the early ‘70s. Before Bowie brought Ziggy Stardust to the world, Bowie saw something in Iggy that many overlooked, and that was the great song-writing at the core of the ensuing chaos that Iggy’s band The Stooges had become synonymous with. So convinced was Bowie of this talent, that he travelled to America to find Iggy, and while there persuaded him to sign with his own UK management. Bowie’s intention was to bring attention to Iggy’s music to an audience that he felt was deserved.

By the time Ziggy Stardust hit the stage in 1972, Bowie was neck-deep in behind-the-scenes side-projects such as producing Mott the Hoople’s All the Young Dudes, as well as Lou Reed’s now-classic Transformer. The Stooges had, by this point, broken up and their future was unlikely, so when Bowie approached Iggy about joining him in England to do another Stooges record but with a different line-up, Iggy agreed.

Lou-Reed_Transformer

Bowie learned the hard way that Iggy wasn’t quite ready allow him to step in on the process in the same way that prior projects had. Finally, he had no option but to step back and let Iggy record the album his own way. The completed recordings were then handed to Bowie for mixing.

Bowie did what he could with what he had and Raw Power was released in 1973. Multiple attempts to mix this album exist, and Bowie’s version is certainly not the best. It would be another three years before he and Iggy would attempt to work together again.

raw power

During this time, Bowie’s career continued to blossom. Ziggy Stardust rose then fell, and Bowie found success in the US and it’s the hangover from this superstardom that started Bowie down the path toward his “Berlin trilogy” phase. In 1976, Bowie and Iggy began work on the tracks that would become The Idiot, Iggy’s debut album as a solo artist.

Iggy Pop – The Idiot (1977)

Iggy_Pop_-_The_Idiot

A wonderful piece of work. The angular sounds and electronic swagger that feature on this album is nothing like what Iggy has done before or since. Essentially, it works as a template for the musical direction that Bowie would explore further while in Berlin.

The opening track Sister Midnight would find its way onto Bowie’s 1979 album Lodger as the re-worked Red Money. More recognised, however, is the Side A closer, China Girl, which became the second single from Bowie’s 1983 album Let’s Dance.

To me, Bowie’s polished version always sounded like a karaoke cover, only emphasised by the accompanying video that features a suited Bowie crooning along with a microphone in front of what could be a wallpapered stage in the corner of a cheap bar.

Iggy Pop – Lust for Life (1977)

Iggy-Pop_Lust-For-Life

This follow-up to The Idiot came quickly. Written, recorded and mixed in eight days, the sound of this record is far more in line with the sound with which Iggy is known. A true classic, the title track bounces onto the stage with an infectious energy that is still imitated today, but never equaled. Lust for Life sets the upbeat tone for this album, barely taking a breath between tracks.

Turn Blue is the exception to this rule. This Blues-based track is a confessional of how Iggy’s drug addiction thwarted previous efforts to collaborate with Bowie.

Bowie’s influence on this album is strong but far less imposing than it was on The Idiot and sits closer to what his presence was on Lou Reed’s Transformer (1972).

Once again, the last track of Side A would find its way onto a following Bowie album, as well as becoming said album’s title.


david-bowie_tonight

Find out all about Tonight (1984) and beyond, when we explore the continued collaboration of Iggy and Bowie throughout the 80’s in part 2 of this article.

Reviewed: When The Wind Blows (1986)

when_the_wind_blows_DVD-coverOnce upon a time when I was a wee lad looking for comics in my local library, I found a particularly depressing one by Raymond Briggs – an English cartoonist who told the thought-provoking story of two old people experiencing the potential fallout (literal) of nuclear war in England. This book was made into an animated film featuring music by David Bowie and Roger Waters.

Many years later, the film found its way onto the shelf at the video store I work at and I was finally able to get around to watching it. As with many other decent films adapting comic books, this is incredibly faithful to the source material.

The animation is simplistic yet effective. Using a collage of traditional animation, stop-motion and live action – these elements all blend together in a flawless fashion, the likes of which you’ll have to see to believe. So much so that when I first noticed the stop-motion element I sat there for a second thinking – how the hell did they do that?

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Directed by Jimmy T Murakami with a script adapted by Briggs himself, this is the story of retiree couple Jim (John Mills) and Hilda (Peggy Ashcroft) as they prepare their home for a nuclear attack by way of a government-issued pamphlet. The steps taken are ludicrous yet I suspect that they are genuine in the same way the US had “Duck & Cover”.

The sleeve of this DVD on the Australian release has a rating warning as follows – PG May contain material which some children find confusing or upsetting.

If confusion is something that as a parent, you want your children to avoid – yes, stay away from this film. Mind you, I think they should have the same warning on the cover of Pixar’s Cars – a concept that I will never get my head around.

Just because it’s animated doesn’t mean it’s a children’s film. Like Animal Farm, Watership Down or Urotsukidöji I – Legend of the Overfiend, be aware that your kids might have a question or two about its content. But come on adults; don’t fear your kids having questions about things. I read this book at a very young age and it didn’t affect me (What? Cynicism and anxiety are healthy. Leave me alone).