Tidal Catalog #2: Iggy Pop

(Edited on 5/24/2020 to add in adjusted summary)

Introduction: For those of you that have stumbled across this website and are interested in reading about my trek through the universe of the Tidal streaming service, let me tell you a bit about what I did. Back in 2016 I thought it would be kind of cool to listen to artist’s catalog from start to finish and rank them from best to worst. After all, who doesn’t like a good list? I thought I might do a few of them and see what happened, hoping it would introduce me to records that were foreign to me in the arsenal of an artist I was familiar with. I also though that it would be pretty cool to get out of the “one off” mode of listening to a new record, years after the previous one, in order to get a true sense of how the artist matured over time. Flash forward to June of 2019 and 250 catalogs later, I have ended the trek. I posted these all on Facebook over the years as they were completed but I’m going to move them all over here, starting with #1, in order to expand them out a bit more.

As with all my catalogs, to be considered in the ranking, an album has to meet certain criteria:

  • The artist must actually perform on 80% of the tracks (soundtrack and rap provision)
  • No compilations of previous released material will be included.
  • The album must have been released officially and within the realm of the label that the artist would have been on at the time or official releases posthumously (normally applies to a slew of live records)
  • Any EPs must contain new new music and be relevant to the catalog, not be more like a single with a b-side or two.
  • Compilations of previously recorded material will be included if they are remixes, bonus tracks, outtakes… mostly music that hasn’t been part of a main release before)

Entrance Point: I had heard Raw Power by the Stooges, some of Iggy’s solo records in the 80s and 2001’s Beat ‘Em Up but not much other than singles beyond that.

Not included: Only some of the Shout! Factory live records in the past decade. Everything else with the Stooges, solo and collaborations are here.

Iggy Pop was a natural choice for catalog #2 since the first one was David Bowie. I originally intended these catalogs to work this way, sort of a six degree thing that would take me down the rabbit hole. But yeah, that stopped with the second catalog. So much for that. But I went to Iggy pop because he was buddies with David Bowie, wrote a lot of music with him and collaborated often enough that his named popped up a bit while I was going through the Bowie catalog. I knew some Stooges stuff, “Real Wild Child,” “Lust for Live” and “Candy” from him but not much else stuck. I had heard his albums were all over the map so it was worth a shot – and it turned out great.

All albums ranked on a 10 point scale.

  • New Values (10)

Before this catalog, when I heard the name Iggy Pop, I immediately thought “punk rocker” and while that’s a very real part of his persona, I ended up finding out how versatile he really was. And my favorite record from him was 1979’s New Values, ironically the first album since the second Stooges record that didn’t have any involvement from Bowie. This was his second solo record that he collaborated with Stooges guitarist James Williamson on and it marks a movement into his rock/new-wave hybrid period.

I love the production on this record from Williamson. No real bells and whistles, very raw and dry, which works well for Iggy’s sound and is a bit of a hold over from how the Stooges records were sonically. Despite Bowie not being part of the record, you can surely hear the influence on the disc. “How Do Ya Fix A Broken Part” has all the elements of a Bowie track from that era. And what Williamson does here is blend elements of rock and punk with horns and keyboards, the latter of which comes from Scott Thurston who played with the Stooges for a couple years and would later join Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.

Although the critics did like New Values, it didn’t sell well. I also completely realize that putting this above Raw Power is likely silly in some people’s eyes but my interest is peaked in different ways sometimes.

Iggy Pop, “The Endless Sea”
  • Raw Power (the Stooges album) (10)

” I’m a street walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm.” Could that be the greatest first line of any album in history? And it sets the stage for some of what’s contained within. The first two Stooges records were a bit more groove-based than this one which focused more on rock and punk aesthetics. The raw and muddy production from Iggy and David Bowie suits the music perfectly (I know a lot of people disagree) whether it’s the blistering punk tune “Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell” or the more subtle “Gimme Danger.” The title track is the perfect example of how to blend punk, rock and a great hook to create a vicious, yet easily accessible track. This was the final Stooges album until their reunion in 2007 and marks one of the best send off albums of all time.

The Stooges, “Raw Power”
  • The Stooges (The Stooges album) (10)
  • Lust for Life (10)

Wrote, recorded and mixed in just eight days, this is very much an Iggy Pop and David Bowie collaboration. Iggy’s first solo record (The Idiot) was more like a Bowie art-rock record. Lust For Life feels more like an Iggy Pop record with significant contributions none-the-less from David. Seems that Iggy kind of new it had the potential to turn into a Bowie record too as he’s stated in the past that Bowie was writing material so fast that he had to be faster to make sure it had his sound on it. Either way though, it’s a brilliant album, with another great opener in the title track, that has become one of Iggy Pop’s signature tunes. And it also includes the darker, yet still catchy “The Passenger” (which would be covered in ever darker versions by many artists) and “Tonight,” a trippy pop track that Bowie would then remake for his album by the same name, many years later. Smack dab in the middle of his best period, this is just one instance of Iggy being extremely versatile and at the top of his game.

Iggy Pop, “The Passenger”
  • Soldier (9.5)
  • The Idiot (9.5)
  • Préliminaires (9)

The next place I stop has to be with 2009’s Préliminaires. This album came after a reunited Stooges released The Weirdness in 2007. Critics hated that record (I don’t think it’s that bad) but I still thought more hard rock/punk would continue after that. Well, at least his next two albums weren’t like that at all. This is a jazz rock record and even better, partially sung in French while consisting mostly of tunes written by Pop. His follow up record (Apres) was pretty much a French jazz cover record. Not only wouldn’t you expect one of these, but two? And the best part about it of course is that they are both pretty damn great, especially Préliminaires. I remember fans buying this and reacting poorly, thinking they were getting a standard Iggy Pop record but I love this for the adventurous turn and chance he took putting the record out.

Iggy Pop, “How Insensitive”
  • Ready To Die (The Stooges album) (9)
  • Teatime Dub Encounters (w/ Underworld) (9)
  • Post Pop Depression (9)
  • Fun House (8.5)
  • Party (8.5)

When I think of a party, Iggy Pop isn’t the first person to come to mind however, considering how many drugs he did, maybe he should be. I love this record from 1981, maybe because everyone else seems to hate it or maybe that for the 80s, it’s pretty fucking solid. I can’t say it’s his most well written as some of the lyrics are pretty fucking stupid but it’s actually a pretty catchy post-punk/new wave record. The Uptown Horns are featured prominently on “Houston Is Hot Tonight” but the highlight of the record is the very Cars-like “Pumpin’ for Jill.” Yes, this is a bit of an odd bird in the catalog – happier than most, kind of dumb lyrics but there’s something oddly satisfying to see that even when Iggy doesn’t bring his A game, it’s still pretty damn good.

Iggy Pop, “Pumpin’ for Jill”
  • Leaves of Grass (w/Tarwater and Alva Noto) (8)
  • Kill City (8)
  • Skull Ring (8)

In 2003, Iggy Pop decided to release a full blown punk rock record and thus Skull Ring was born. The album features guest performers on every track, be it the Stooges or the Trolls (his backing band at the time) to Green Day, Sum 41 and Peaches. Although this was the first really heavy record he’d released in a long time that was worth a damn and it does have some great tunes, the mixing and matching of guests/bands makes for a bit of an uneven listen at times. The tracks from the Stooges (5 of them) sound a bit stuck in the 70s, while the tracks with the Trolls sound a bit more updated than that. With the first five tracks going back and forth between the two bands it’s an odd vibe. Iggy’s vocals are interesting as well as I’m not a huge fan of them on the opening track, “Little Electric Chair” but then they are really cool and off-kilter on “Superbabe.” The Green Day tracks sound you know, like Green Day. “Private Hell” could have easily been sung by Billie Joe Armstrong and put on a Green Day record but also makes me kind of wonder what a full album with Green Day and Iggy would sound like, as he can carry their three-cord polished punk pretty damn well. Even the Sum 41 track (“Little Know It All”) sounds pretty good coming from Iggy, though it is kind of weird hearing him sing that kind of pop-punk essentially from kids. Overall, there’s 17 damn tracks here, so it’s way too long and the flow is pretty terrible but there are great tracks on the record if you can just get to them.

Iggy Pop, “Supermarket”
  • Apres (8)
  • Avenue B (8)
  • The Weirdness (The Stooges album) (7.5)
  • Blah Blah Blah (7)
  • Naughty Little Doggie (7)
  • Brick by Brick (7)
  • Zombie Birdhouse (6)
  • Instinct (6)
  • American Caesar (5)
  • Beat ’em Up (4)

I stop one last time, all the way down here at an album I gave a 4/10 ranking to, because at the time of writing this, it was the last record I had heard from him and while it obviously didn’t leave much of an impression on me, it still made me want to do this catalog. The thought behind this record was good. It was the first thoroughly hard record he had put out in a long time and he brought in Mooseman, formerly of fucking Body Count to help bring new life to his sound. Now, let’s keep in mind that Body Count was/is a pretty shitty band, even more so around this era and while that really wasn’t the fault of Mooseman, he was a contributor. He only co-wrote three songs on the record, with the rest co-written by long time collaborator Whitey Kirst. Ironically, it’s the Mooseman tracks that might be the best on the disc. But some of the other tracks, like “L.O.S.T.” and “Beat ‘Em Up” sound like Body Count outtakes, while Iggy actually howls on the appropriately titled, “Howl!” and the track “Football” might actually be the dumbest shit he’s ever recorded. Sometimes the trainwreck is what gets me though and I still hear the energy and purpose behind what he was trying to do. He just didn’t execute very well at all.

Iggy Pop, “Football”
Iggy Pop, “Beat ‘Em Up”
  • TV Eye Live 1977 (3)

Summary: 26 total albums. Average rating: 7.9

Adjusted Summary after Update #1 & #2: 28 albums, Average rating: 7.8

2 thoughts on “Tidal Catalog #2: Iggy Pop

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