53 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like having your head encased in concrete
Early in 1976 David Bowie invited Iggy Pop to join his 'Station To Station' tour. Not as a performer, but as part of Bowie's small group of friends and advisers. Bowie was trying to kick cocaine, Iggy was trying to stay clear of heroin, and at the end of the tour they made a pact - to leave the USA for Europe, and to kick drugs for good. They first decamped to Paris...
Published on 11 Jan 2000
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Due for a Remaster!
I love the LP of the idiot but the CD version is due for a remaster. Sounds tinny like most of the early CD releases. Sort it out Iggy!
Published 15 months ago by I. Wilson
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53 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like having your head encased in concrete,
By A Customer
Early in 1976 David Bowie invited Iggy Pop to join his 'Station To Station' tour. Not as a performer, but as part of Bowie's small group of friends and advisers. Bowie was trying to kick cocaine, Iggy was trying to stay clear of heroin, and at the end of the tour they made a pact - to leave the USA for Europe, and to kick drugs for good. They first decamped to Paris where Bowie had booked studio time to record a single with Iggy. 'Sister Midnight' had been played on the 'Station..' tour. It was a funky, hard tune, but in Iggy's hands it became much more sinister. It soon became apparent that a whole album's worth of material was being recorded by the duo. In many cases Iggy would play drums, Bowie the guitar or keyboards - just the two of them. The resulting tracks were taken to Berlin to be mixed by Bowie's long time producer Tony Visconti, and became 'The Idiot'. Contained within the album are some of Iggy's best ever tracks. Most of the music was composed by Bowie, the lyrics mainly improvised by Pop. 'China Girl' will be a familiar title to most, by Bowie's 1983 remake is incredibly weedy compared with the original which has a grandeur and a power that is incomparable. 'Nightclubbing' contains an evocative description of the duo's new life, set to an almost Kraftwerkian beat. And 'Dum Dum Boys' lists what happened to the Stooges. 'What happened to James?' asks Iggy possibly refering to himself 'He's goin' straight..' is the sardonic reply. Interestingly Iggy has recently said that the beautiful ballad 'Tiny Girls' (with a breathtaking sax solo from Bowie) is one of his personal favourites. Oh, and the quote at the top - I think it was Brian Eno who described 'The Idiot' as like having your head encased in concrete - he was being complimentary, in his typically oblique way. But what he meant was the album totally envelops you, in a thick muddy sound, and the beat thuds it's way through. It's an album that repays many listens. It's as much Bowie's record as Iggy's, but together they created a sound totally unlike anything they would ever create again, either solo or as a team. Devastatingly wonderful.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb murky arty classic.,
Completely different to any album Iggy attempted before or after, "The Idiot" is a testament to two fine rock musicians working together at the top of their of their game. Iggy expands on the darkly debauched crooning style of vocals which had cropped up before with The Stooges ("Dirt", "I Need Somebody") but here the material really suits it. The other Bowie/Pop "Berlin" albums, "Low", "Heroes", and "Lust For Life" are all to some extent influenced by their grim yet inspiring European setting, but none more so than "The Idiot" which reeks of Kraftwerk and Krautrock on the one hand, but also older Germnaic music like the songs of Brecht and Weil and the Weimar republic.
"Sister Midnight" opens the album with messed up funk and tripping guitars chiming in the background as Iggy recounts a Freudian nightmare similar in theme to The Doors' "The End".
"Nightclubbing" is lobotomised Kurt Weil drug pop, blank and vampiric as Iggy and Bowie leer out of the mists of Berlin on a night on the town.
"Funtime" is almost childish, but at the same time driving and desperate, implying that Iggy's having absolutely no fun at all. Creepy in many ways, with echoing syndrum beats and massively reverbed vocals.
"Baby" is more soft and romantic, but dark and continues the European theme of the album very nicely as Pop implores "Baby, please stay young..."
"China Girl" is probably the highpoint of side one, and is vastly superior to Bowie's later remake. Another desperate love song, but this time epic in its scope, featuring synths, massive guitar solos, the full deal. Anthemic and bleak.
"Dum Dum Boys" opens side two, and features a titanic riff, which continues throughout the song's duration, and its autobiographical content makes it an essential bridge between the arty agenda of "The Idiot" and what happened to his former bandmates from The Stooges.
"Tiny Girls" is possibly the weakest track on the album, but it still sits relatively well amongst its superior bedfellows, and is a sentimental though grim tune based around The Ig's paranoia over a girlfriend.
"Mass Production" is the masterpiece of the second side, and is possibly the best "song" on the entire album. Massively long, and the most experimental tune, it also features Iggy's most desolate and hard hitting lyrics: both musically and lyrically the song is about the metaphor between life and industrial mass proiduction. Centring around the line "Though I try to die, you put me back on the line" it focusses on the emptiness in one relationship being replaced with another almost exactly the same "yeah she's almost like you, and I'm almost like him...."
Of all the Bowie/Pop Berlin albums, this and "Low" are the best, and I think all in all this is a grotesquely neglected classic, lyrically, musically, thematically. And a very influential album too, as listening to it certainly reminds of the dark, icy sonics of post punk acts such as Joy Division (and not merely because Joy Division singer Ian Curtis committed suicide whilst this record played).
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Downer; but a great recording.,
I recall first hearing this in a "listening booth" in a record shop in Bristol. I was stunned by it, and it became an oft-played record during my spead-freek youth.
I haven't bought the CD version, as I cannot decide if I want to re-visit those days, in memory form. I cannot decide if this is the all-time, most depressing album, or Lou Reed's "Berlin."
It's strongest elements are on what was originally side two.
"Mass Production" is a monumental song.
For many years, I thought that "Low" the record found on the late Ian Curtis's turntable; but,no,it was this one.
It is amusing that "China Girl" (co-written by Bowie) was totally ruined by him. Iggy Pop's is the definitive version. I recall some totally misguided person slating the song on Radio 4; disparaging Bowie's version as a piece of sexist exoticism. It's plainly about heroin! The fact that Osterburg released the almost-as-good "Lust For Life " within the same year is quite an impressive achievement. He never topped this, with perhaps "American Caesar" being a close contender. But "The Idiot" is his EUROPEAN album. 1977 was a year that saw many classics released. This one ; "Marquee Moon"; "Low "; "Talking Heads 77." This one is timeless.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Iggy's Low,
This LP, produced and co-written by David Bowie, is Iggy's equivalent of Low. i think Brian Eno described it as like 'having your head encased in concrete'. he meant it as a compliment, and weirdly, he's right. It is an aloof, enigmatic record which is still full of wondeful, unforgettable songs like Sister Midnight and the original and best version of China Girl.
5.0 out of 5 stars NIGHTCLUBBING,
This is one of two albums from Iggy's Berlin period and is the sister album to the more commercially upbeat and accessible 'Lust for Life'.
Disturbing, angular and abrasive, 'the Idiot' is a minor masterpiece and still stands the test of time today.
Bowie's involvement is substantial and he was to resurrect 'China Girl' at a later date, albeit losing the essence of the song in the process.
An extra-ordinary album which isn't immediately accessible, but is superb nevertheless.
5.0 out of 5 stars Revolutionary on All Fronts,
Motor Mekanik fusion of Detroit White Arctic Soul harnessed to German harmonic static petrified kulture. The result was another aesthetic revolution in the late 70's. Berlin and Germany were placed back on the sound map unleashing creativity. Sonic gold emerged with Bowie, Wire and Nick Cave soaking the anarchic grey ambience of walled 24 hour entrapment.
Iggy was rejuvenated by Bowie who continued to conjure his magic, spinning away from his infatuation with all things retro 20's post Weimar. Apart from creating his own music Bowie was particularly astute at germinating the genius, Lou Reed and Transformer, Iggy and The Idiot.
Bowie's roll of A list artistic genii friendships stretched across the golden arc of a rainbow; Lou Reed, Marc Bolan, Iggy Pop and Kraftwerk, the men who shaped the world.
Iggy recovering from emotional collapse and an episode in a psychiatric hospital rekindled, grapped hold of these tunes with an ice cold passion. The vocal range of a man-croak serenading the end of time. Now channelled into an austere bleak pre Joy Division penetration into a gasp at any belief. Relationships of mass production ensure the man is always looking for another pre model, detailed in Tiny Girl and then being stung by the young banshee who wants for this and wants for that. Mid life crisis before he became old.
China Girl is a pure homage to inter racial relationships at a time of deep segregation, belied Bowie's previous infatuation with culural separation. Cultural exoticism for those who are racially blinded, for the enlightened a homage to the beauty of women from all four corners of the world.
Sister Midnight a howl to connection with the dark exotique mistress of the twilight hour, another nod to post caucasian relationships. Bowie later found Iman, "Baby" is Iggy's channelled passion into his Sweet 16's, a song teetering on the edge as a love song to the darkness contained in a young women's soul.
Dum Dum Boys an acknowledgement of mourning and disguised bereavement of the gang. A true marker in the annals of male psychology and emotional honesty. Iggy croons a male "love" song to his former male gang member friends, bewailing his loss of bonds and connection. The there are the "Tiny Girls" a smooch into late night sax.
Nightclubbing and Funtime, musical equivalents to Kraftwerk's "The Model", ironic pastiche of 70's celebrity life. "We're what's happening", sung in the most jaded acidic sarcasm dripping with prawn cocktail bitten screams into the ennui of the twilight.
This album was, and still is, revolutionary on all fronts.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!,
I have never realy been a big Iggy Pop fan, but i bought this album on a whim, and i wasn't dissapointed. With help from David Bowie, both have created a masterpiece (The Idiot) which is now safely in my cd collection. The album is dark, mood sombering and powerful. Definetly a must have!
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting,
An album that sets the mood like no other I own. It's a dark album created by two musicians at their peak. Every collection should contain a copy. I can't recommend it enough.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic!,
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This review is from: The Idiot (MP3 Download)
What an album. "Fun Time" in particular stands out as timeless - could have been written today with its electronic influence and minimalist feel. It's "She's Lost Control" two years earlier. Obviously "Nightclubbing" has a special place in any fans heart, too. The album as a whole is so influential and ahead of its time it's difficult to put into words its importance in the pantheon of great rock albums - essential.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Iggy Funks Krautrock-Style,
Iggy Pop's 1977 album The Idiot was his solo album debut and was one of two Iggy album releases from that year on which he collaborated with David Bowie (the other being Lust For Life). Recorded in Germany and France, The Idiot's perhaps most obvious stylistic influences are those of so-called Krautrock (and, more specifically, the band Kraftwerk) and funk, both of which were heavy influences for Bowie, with whom Iggy wrote all of the songs on the album.
The Krautrock influence is most notable in terms of the pace of most of the songs, which is mid-tempo with only minimal variation. The first three songs on the album Sister Midnight, Nightclubbing and Funtime are great exponents of this style, thereby having something of a mesmerising effect on the listener. In fact, it's not until the fourth song Baby, with its catchy chorus, that this cycle is broken (and, for me, this comes as something of a welcome release). China Girl continues the more conventional songwriting approach, and Iggy's version, with its raw sound and typically idiosyncratic vocal scores over Bowie's later, more polished version.
The album reverts to Krautrock (and, maybe, industrial rock) style for the album's two extended songs, Dum Dum Boys and the closing Mass Production. Dum Dum Boys is my personal favourite of all the songs here, with Carlos Alomar's guitar to the fore, and the return of that mesmerising beat, as Iggy (I hope with his tongue firmly in his cheek) satirises his past bandmates from The Stooges ('People said we were negative, we'd take but we would never give, but we'd sing da-da-da da-da-da dum dum day'). Mass Production probably overstays its welcome at over eight minutes, but does have its moments of brilliance buried in its industrial soundscape. Sandwiched in between these two songs is Tiny Girls, a little gem of a song, a near-ballad, very atypical of the album with a Bowie saxophone introduction and a great vocal turn from Iggy.
I have to admit I do prefer Lust For Life (and indeed Raw Power-era Iggy) to The Idiot - for me, Lust For Life has a superior (and more diverse) set of songs. Nevertheless, this album certainly has enough going for it to warrant a place in the album collection.
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