Bowie hearts Iggy.
This we already know. David Bowieâ€™s musical life was changed when he first heard the Stooges perform in the early â€˜70s and entered into a long friendship with Mr. Osterberg, a/k/a Iggy Pop. A few years and failed albums later, Bowie tracked the struggling, newly sober Pop down in a sanitarium, er, â€œhospitalâ€, and convinced him to begin a solo career after the Stoogesâ€™ implosion. The happy couple relocated to Berlin and recorded some of the most important albums in rock (and New Wave) history; Bowieâ€™s â€œLowâ€, â€œHeroesâ€ and â€œLodgerâ€ and Iggyâ€™s â€œThe Idiotâ€ and â€œLust for Lifeâ€. After that, Iggy went his own way and lost the plot. Ever seen the movie â€œVelvet Goldmineâ€? It was sorta like that, but not really.
As Iggy floundered in the early 80s, Bowie, wellâ€¦you know. â€œLetâ€™s Danceâ€ was humungous, if safe, and Dave also had a huge hit with â€œChina Girlâ€, a song co-written and originally recorded byâ€¦Iggy Pop. Bowie wanted Iggy to have some royalty money, so the story goes, so David recorded the song as sort of a favor. When it became a Top Ten hit, Bowie threw the money on his already teetering pile and moved on, while Iggy probably paid his rent by its due date for the first time.
Bowie was flush with cash and he wanted to help his old mate out. So together, Bowie and Pop collaborated on what was meant to be Iggyâ€™s big Top 40 breakthrough album, Blah Blah Blah. The idea was to create an accessible album that would finally let Iggy live comfortably, and since Bowie was at his highest commercial apex since the Ziggy days, he was the man to do it.
â€œCry for Loveâ€ was the first single and was so bland, AOR-by-numbers and inconsequential, Iâ€™m not even going to bother posting or discussing it. Bleh. Moving on. Trust me here.
The second single was a remake of â€œReal Wild Child (Wild One)â€, a song first made famous by Jerry Lee Lewis. You know this one, since itâ€™s been used in so many commercials years after its release, but at the time, it failed to chart. MTV played it a bit here and there, but it wasnâ€™t anywhere near a hit. Strike two for Blah Blah Blah.
The albumsâ€™ third attempt is the real reason Iâ€™m writing this post â€“ I absolutely adore â€œIsolationâ€, because itâ€™s the most pure sounding Bowie/Pop collaboration on this set. The production is a bit dated, but Iggyâ€™s delivery is impassioned and the Bowie backing vocals give the affair a real Sixties/Righteous Brothers groove amid all the drum machines and synths (Bowie is not credited with backing vox on the insert, but just listen and you tell me). And the â€œI need some lovinâ€™/like a fastball needs controlâ€ metaphor is hysterical. Just a great track all around.
Another favorite, if a little too long, is â€œShadesâ€, another ballad a la Iggy. This was another of the few new Bowie/Pop co-written efforts, and featured a spirited â€œWoo hoo!â€ backing hook that makes me smile each time I hear it. If Blah Blah Blah had sounded more like these two tracks, it may be a little more fondly remembered than it is.
As it stands, Iggyâ€™s true commercial breakthrough finally happened four years later, when â€œCandyâ€, a duet with the B-52sâ€™ Kate Pierson, hit the Top 20. A few years later, â€œLust For Lifeâ€ was first used in the soundtrack for the movie Trainspotting, then began popping up in commercials for banks and cruise lines (not bad for a song about kicking junk). Then, â€œReal Wild Childâ€ got its day in the commercial sun, as it also made the advertising soundtrack rounds.
I imagine Iggy has no problem paying his rent/mortgage these days, and the man deserves that.
I can’t find the video for “Isolation” on YouTube, so instead, enjoy Iggy being told to go “fuck Bowie” by a fan and Iggy’s well-mannered and deserved response:
â€Isolationâ€ did not chart. â€œShadesâ€ was an album track.
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