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Iggy Pop – Lust for Life [Album Review]

March 19, 2012

Lust for Life / Sixteen / Some Weird Sin The Passenger / Tonight / Success / Turn Blue / Neighborhood Threat / Fall in Love with Me

Thought i’d start with a change and mention the album cover for once as this album cover is of course one of the things that instantly make this album classic. Look at that idiot grin, the grin of a lobotomised monkey, an insane grin on the face of a Iggy who took enough drugs to be half man/half chemical, behaved more outrageous than you can imagine and would do about anything (yes, that as well) to get his fix. With a heart full of napalm, Pop’s three albums and performances with the Stooges turned him into perhaps the quintessential animalistic front man, a raving, single-minded explosion of excess and dedication. Then came the almost surreal drone of The Idiot, an album that had “Bowie” all over it, but also kick-started Pop’s solo on a high note. Lust for Life doesn’t sound anything like the drug-fueled debut. Oh, it’s still PG-rated, some of the lyrics (“Tonight,” “Turn Blue”) aren’t about life’s finer moments, but the album lives up to the sprightly energy and enthusiasm the Popster’s smile suggests. The band on this album isn’t half as demented as any of the Stooges’ line-ups, but they provide some excellent, occasionally hard-rocking music that makes it the most accessible Pop-related album up until then. Hunt (drums) and Tony Sales (bass) are a terrific rhythm section – the legendary intro to the title track has “classic” material all over it, while the remainder of the album also boasts a shitload of stubbornly throbbing bass lines and entrancing drumming. Guitarists Carlos Alomar and Ricky Gardener also add their valuable $0.02 by laying down minimal yet effective riffs as is clearly shown throughout, featuring for the first time faux-funk and almost abrasive sound sheets (“Sixteen”). This time around, Bowie’s presence is less obvious (though he plays piano and does some backing vocals), but that needn’t be a problem as it’s Pop who steals the show throughout the album, with some of his most spirited performances. Who can forget the story about Johnny Yen, wrapped up in one of the most recognizable drum patterns in rock history? Pop – no longer using the mumbling baritone of The Idiot – delivers his semi-nonsensical lyrics (“Of course I’ve had it in the ear before”) with an appropriate sneer, barks ’em with a dirty dose of perversion which we’ve all grown to love(“Sweet sixteen in leather boots, body and soul I go crazy”), or does an (less successful) Elvis-meets-caterwauling-idiotact during “Turn Blue.” The first half of the album contains some of the best stuff he’s ever recorded in my opinion, as the run from the classic title track to the violently monotonous “Sixteen” to the danceable “Some Weird Sin” and the sing-along “The Passenger” (you can’t go wrong with lyrics like “Lala, lala, lalalala… “de doo doo doo, de daa daa daa” on the other hand…) never leaves the realm of excellent rock ‘n’ roll. Because Tina Turner (of all people) did a cover of “Tonight” with David Bowie (ah, I remember hearing the live version, with Tina announcing she was gonna sing a song Pop and Bowie wrote in the seventies and then Bowie appearing in his lousy, white costume – THE GLORIOUS ’80’s!), you might oversee the fact that it’s not exactly a happy song (“I saw my baby, she was turning blue, I knew that soon her, young life was through”). Unfortunately it’s followed by two songs I never cared for, the first one (“Success”) a galloping dirge that reminded me of bad Fleetwood Mac, the second one the unbearable torture of “Turn Blue.” The album’s final tracks never really reach the momentum of the opening songs either, though “Neighborhood” remains somewhat of a personal favorite, while the thumping “Fall in Love with Me” (glam-meets-The Idiot) manages to stay and sound cool for six and a half minutes. The best moments on Lust for Lifeare better than some of the things Pop did before it and almost all he did after it, but because of a few lesser cuts, it’s not exactly an exciting trip from start to finish, but… we could say the same about your and my life, right? great  album, for the most part. Thank you Mr Pop.

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