Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Random Wednesday: Iggy Pop, 'Sister Midnight'
At some undefined point after the ‘Station to Station’ tour David Bowie decided it was time to get himself and his friend Iggy Pop cleaned up, go to Europe and enter back into normality. It’s ironic that everything about the resulting album suggested that they had gone completely off the deep end without any hope of redemption. Following the end of the tour, Bowie and Pop holed up in Château d'Hérouville, with the intention of writing and recording an album for Pop thus giving Bowie ample room to experiment. In fact purists have criticised the work as unrepresentative of Iggy Pop’s repertoire and simply a blueprint for Bowie’s subsequent work, something he later admitted to: “Poor Jim, in a way, became a guinea pig for what I wanted to do.”
But to denigrate such a startling and unique work in this way is to do it a supreme injustice, ‘The Idiot’ is perhaps the greatest of Pop’s career, a spectral brew of industrial, gothic, funk and krautrock (a mix that would inform post –punk later in the decade).
The opener ‘Sister Midnight’ is without doubt something special. With the automated squelching drum beat and bass it has an anxious walking dead quality, this is not so much James Brown as it is zombie-funk. The track starts with Carlos Alomar’s mesmerizing tumbling guitar figure built around the stark layers of bass and drums. The drum beat has a synthetic feel, creating a big ball of sound more like an electronic variant of what a drum should sound like and less anything organic. Pop’s voice is put upfront, to get as close to the listener as possible, no way to escape the menace. The lyrics are as devastating as the music, laced with Pop’s frank oedipal dream imagery and rabid crooning. No. 1 on the apocalypse jukebox.
Where to find: The Idiot (1977)