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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The wasted career of Iggy Pop

I was introduced to Iggy Pop via David Bowie way back in 1977. I came home after a three-day camping "holiday" for the Duke of Edinburgh's award was thrilled to see that "The Idiot" had arrived in the post. I listened transfixed, amazed at the industrial sound and the air of menace that dominated the record. This was the first record where he collaborated with Bowie and it saw Iggy's rebirth from punk has-been to godfather of punk.

Over the years I've seen Iggy performing twice - and he is, undisputedly, a wonderful performer. I've also bought most of his albums. With very few exceptions, they have been very poor.

Therein lies the rub.

I've just read the new biography by Paul Trynka and it left me with a nasty taste in the mouth. A biography has long been overdue: there are books about Iggy but they are mostly superficial and bland. I knew all about the excesses of his life, the drugs, the alcohol, the psychiatric hospital. But what becomes clear from the book are Iggy's delusions about himself and his supreme arrogance and ego.

He might be happy living in Miami and thriving on royalties from ads and films, and finally condescending to reunite with the Stooges to give them some income, but if Iggy seriously reviews his career, Ian Hunter from Mott the Hoople was right when he said Iggy never had the talent to make it big.

The three albums he did with David Bowie were excellent, the rest, dire. Yet Trynka says that Iggy always resented Bowie and considered him less talented. There is no comparison between the two. All Iggy ever had going for him was the ability to perform and to adopt the persona of "Iggy Pop". He cannot write good songs on his own: a lot of his material is mawkish and overblown. Maybe if he had worked with good people more consistently, and had better career direction from lazy record companies, he might be a bigger star today with more than just the honorary title of godfather of punk.

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