Gone but not forgotten, Hard-to-find

Iggy Stardust

It’s well-documented that David Bowie was something of a non-stop workaholic. That long golden run he went on, from Hunky Dory in 1971 to Lodger in ’79 – 10 amazing albums in 9 short years, all killer and no filler (’74’s Diamond Dogs might faintly be described as the runt of the litter, though it yielded Rebel Rebel as well as the album’s title track, so scratch that, naysayers) remains unparallelled, unlikely to ever be equalled, let alone beaten.

What’s all the more remarkable is that while he was on this winning streak, David was sustaining himself on little more than milk, red peppers and the finest Class As that came his way. Not only that, but when he wasn’t changing musical direction and band members and haircut and trousers every nine months, or sticking out the odd non-album track to keep the fans happy between releases (between releases! d’ye hear that, Radiohead?!?), he was still finding the time to help out other artists.


An on-the-brink-of-break-up Mott The Hoople famously kickstarted their attack on the charts with their version of Bowie’s All the Young Dudes. Last time I checked, Mott were still playing the odd Hall Of Fame gig here and there, thanks in no small way to yer man Dave.

A not-quite-post-Velvet Underground but fed up Lou Reed went spinning into orbit on the back of Satellite Of Love and its parent album, Transformer. Satellite… had been written, much like Bowie’s Space Oddity, on the back of the public’s fascination with space. Reed had high hopes for the song, reckoning it was perfect hit single material. Satellite… was considered, then disregarded for inclusion on the Velvets’ Loaded album, so when Bowie entered his orbit showing an interest in his music, Lou was keen for his song to be taken seriously second time around. Both the single and album were produced and enhanced by Bowie, his uncredited vocals on Satellite… worth the price of admission alone.

Iggy Pop, careering out of control on a spiral of illicit substances and ever-decreasing sales (Stooges were hardly big-hitters to begin with) found himself on the receiving end of a post-Ziggy kiss of life when Bowie, fresh from minting his second stone-cold classic in as many years, helped produce, or rather re-produce, Raw Power, Stooges’ third album.


Iggy himself had taken the producer’s chair, creating a chaotic mess of almost unsalvageable pre-punk rock. Of the 24 individual tracks available to him at the mixing desk, he chose to put the entire album onto just three  – the band on one, the vocals on another and James Williamson’s lead guitar on the third. When Columbia heard it, they refused to release it until it was cleaned up somewhat and made more presentable.

Cue Bowie. The man with the golden touch. Using all manner of up-to-the-minute recording technology, he twisted and turned Iggy’s 3 track raw Raw Power into something slightly more commercial and releasable. Perhaps not the radio-friendly unit-shifter that Columbia had in mind. Not that many folk bought it anyway, but those that did – cliche klaxon alert!!! – ended up forming bands of their own. But you knew that already. Listen to the album and you’ll hear the embryonic howls of The Jesus And Mary Chain, Sonic Youth, Nirvana and a million other six string stranglers. The teenage Johnny Marr was fixated by the feral guitar playing on it. His bequiffed foil was in love with Search & Destroy‘s glorious abandon and poetic lyrics; streetwalkin’ cheetahs, handfuls of napalm ‘n all.

I’m the world’s forgotten boy,” drawls the Ig at one point, poetry indeed to the ears of the bedroom bard of Salford’s Kings Road. No Stooges, no Smiths. No Iggy Pop, no indie pop. Imagine that.

Iggy & The StoogesSearch & Destroy


In the mid-90s, ahead of a Stooges reissue campaign, Iggy himself was given the opportunity to remix Bowie’s remix – are you still following? – and used his time to unravel all of Bowie’s work, replacing every guttural grunt and primordial proclamation that had been wiped from the first release. He turned the faders up, up and away into the red until the guitars became ear-splitting, spitting shards of broken glass from both speakers.

Iggy & The StoogesShake Appeal

For much of the record, it’s a painful sonic assault on the ears, even during the two ‘ballads’, one on each side, where the guitars somehow still manage to creep into dog-bothering levels of pain.

Shake Appeal, above, surfs above the racket like the noisiest garage band in the world having their first go at a Motown track, all Jagger-pouting handclaps and barking yelps, Iggy’s skinny backside (what waist size was he? 24″? A chunky 26?)  bending and jerking like  a pipe cleaner in time to the fuzz bass, the Four Tops if they were fighters, not lovers. It’s a sloppy, angry, petulant, white riot of a record. Quite fantastic, of course. Beautiful music wrapped in a beautiful sleeve. What’s not to like?


*Bonus Track!

Iggy Pop Wild America (Long Video Version)

Here‘s Iggy’s on take on it all.

Most likely to succeed. 9th Grade.

10th Grade, formed Iguanas! High school rawk bayund!

An audio autobiography, if y’like.


Larry, Moe, Curly and Iggy

I was watching the BBC’s fairly decent Alan Yentob-presented 3 part documentary on the history of the guitar last night. The Johnny Marr bit was excellent. You’ll find it here. Learn how to play ‘There Is A Light..’ from the man himself! Iggy Pop was also on, waxing lyrical about how being a guitar player was all just about being a bit of a prick (!) He must know something I suppose, and given that The Stooges only recently became friends again, he may be right.

Ron Asheton was the bit of a prick he was referring to. At the tail end of the 60s he was the proto-punk, perma-shaded, primal riffmeister on ‘The Stooges’ and ‘Funhouse’,  The Stooges first 2 albums. By the mid 70’s, James Williamson’s introduction as co-writer and lead guitarist had relegated Asheton to bass playing duties on the Bowie-assisted and aptly named ‘Raw Power’. To these ears, the riffs became less prowling and menacing as a result. Iggy talks about writing the riff for ‘Search & Destroy’ here. It’s very funny. Johnny Marr rates ‘Raw Power’ highly, and while it’s still a fantastic record, for me it’s just shaded by the first two albums, in particular ‘Funhouse’.

When I first got broadband I went absolutely nuts, downloading anything I could get my hands on. Well, not anything. I wasn’t interested in the latest Bloc Party album (is anyone?) or The Doors back catalogue (I’d buy that), but I actively sought out hard-to-find gems. I was in heaven when I found the Complete Funhouse Sessions, a 7 CD set that presented in chronological order every take of every track that The Stooges recorded for Funhouse. Plus all the studio chatter you could want. “Someone’s guitar string was ringing on that one!” moans Iggy at one point. Clocking in at 7 hours and 52 minutes long, it’s not the sort of thing you’d want to play all day. Well, maybe you would. But it would drive you crazeeee. The box set was quickly out of print (only 3000 made for sale), so I had no qualms about downloading it.

Dipping into it now and again reveals wee bits and pieces I had never noticed before, and it gives you a great insight into how the tracks developed as the sessions continued. Some of the squaking sax that made the final cut isn’t on these sessions. Other tracks had the squaking sax and wah-wah mayhem taken off before the final album was sequenced. Much as I love them, Spacemen 3 clearly made a career out of re-hashing these cast offs. Much of this is uneasy listening. In fact Mrs Pan hates this stuff when I play any of it, so I tend to keep it for when I’m washing the floor. Mop in hand, I’ll strut about like Iggy. Only, with my trousers on.  Here’s some of my favourite outtakes.

Down On The Street (take 2)

Fun House (take 1)

Loose (take 3 – false start)

Studio chat regarding drum roll in ‘Loose’

Loose (take 4)

See That Cat aka TV Eye (take 1)

1970 (take 1)

now go and get yer mop!