Top positive review
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Like having your head encased in concrete
on 11 January 2000
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.