Iggy Pop is a man who needs no introduction. Designated The Godfather of Punk by loving fans the world over, the often shirtless, always unpredictable Stooges frontman is yet to draw the curtain on an illustrious career spanning almost fifty years. Known for his erratic stage presence and constantly fluctuating style, Iggy Pop has gone down in history as one of the most iconic performers to have ever existed.
Next year will mark half a century since The Stooges’ first album saw the light of day, and to celebrate Pop will be gracing Australian stages as part of a massive national tour that will take him to all corners of the country, including Byron Bay where he was announced as a headline act for the annual Bluesfest.
What better way to salute such an iconic performer on his unofficial 50th anniversary than to count down his top five albums, both as a solo artist and as the frontman of The Stooges?
Here are our top five Iggy picks, in no particular order.
Iggy Pop, The Godfather of Punk, is yet to draw the curtain on an illustrious career spanning almost fifty years.
Lust For Life (1977)
Iggy’s 1977 release Lust For Life was the performer’s second studio album, second solo release and second collaboration with David Bowie, who was also credited as the producer for Pop’s first release The Idiot.
Lust For Life is an album still on high rotation for many; the singles The Passenger, Lust For Life and Tonight are genre-defying, ageless pieces that have since been given new life in TV shows, movies and as covers by musicians looking to emulate Pop’s iconic sounds. Lust For Life is less experimental than its predecessor The Idiot, which attracted more of Bowie’s eclectic influence.
The album achieved critical success upon its release and still manages to hold the title of the most commercially popular album of Pop’s long career. It’s the perfect introduction to Pop for could-be fans in the dark.
Raw Power (1973)
The third studio release for The Stooges and the first under the moniker Iggy and The Stooges, 1973’s Raw Power has since gained a cult following as a harbinger of punk rock after it failed to receive the commercial success that the band had originally anticipated.
The album was the band’s first foray into a more anthemic flavour; the ferocity of Search and Destroy, Gimme Danger and Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell confirm Pop’s fluidity as a frontman, performer and musician. The intensity of Raw Power is captivating and saw Pop go from a humble lead singer to a punk icon.
The Idiot (1977)
1977 was a big year for Pop, with the release of his first solo record The Idiot closely followed by his sophomore Lust For Life. With production credit going to none other than David Bowie, The Idiot has been subject to heavy debate by Iggy Pop purists who believe that the album was unrepresentative of the larger Pop repertoire due to its heavy Bowie flavours.
Nonetheless, The Idiot paved the way for Pop to make himself known as an entity outside of The Stooges; his genius validated to those who thought that perhaps he was merely a frontman and couldn’t quite make it in the world of solo performances. Sister Midnight, China Girl and Nightclubbing were the album’s major releases, and have also been resuscitated by people wanting to breath new life into old favourites.
With Blah-Blah-Blah, Pop surprised fans with what sounded more like a cheesy film soundtrack than the iconic punk releases people were used to hearing and came to expect.
The change of scenery worked in Pop’s favour, though; despite its genre digression, Blah-Blah-Blah became one of the performer’s most successful releases. The album’s single Real Wild Child (Wild One) was a Pop take on Johnny O’Keefe’s 1958 single Wild One. Blah-Blah-Blah also marked the final collaboration between long-time music partner David Bowie, who co-wrote most of the songs on the album.
Three songs on the album were co-written by ex-Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones, too. Pop has always been a fan of collaborating.
Perhaps the most bizarre of all albums Iggy Pop had ever written and released, 2009’s Préliminaires was inspired by the performer’s reading of Michel Houellebecq’s novel La Possibilité d’une Île (The Possibility of an Island).
This album has a heavy New Orleans vibe influenced by iconic jazz greats Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong, very unlike the rock, punk and pop music fans were used to hearing. Pop even sings some of the album’s tracks in French!
Préliminaires is definitely the most left-of-centre Iggy Pop release and didn’t receive the critical reception some of his previous records garnered, but it proves The Godfather of Punk’s incredible versatility as a songwriter and musician.
Iggy Pop headlines Byron Bay Bluesfest in April 2019 – grab your tickets here.
You can also see Iggy at the following sideshows: