Siouxsie and the Banshees “The Passenger” 1987. Wonderland Records. 12″ single, “lllllloco-motion mix.” The single version of “The Passenger” – a fantastic cover of Iggy Pop’s version from 1977 (on Lust for Life, released as a single in ‘98) – appeared on Siouxsie and the Bashees’ 1987 all-cover album Through the Looking Glass and went to #41 on the UK charts. About a million other artists have covered “The Passenger” (well, not exactly, but there are a lot, and I do like the 1997 version by Lunachicks that’s on the We Will Fall: The Iggy Pop Tribute record), and Siouxsie’s is the best. Her voice is a great counterpoint to Pop’s masculine monotone growl, all clear soaring gothic gloss and mirrors, and a whole lot of horns. Pop quite liked Siouxsie’s rendition, stating, “She sings it well and she threw a little note in when she sings it, that I wish I had thought of, it’s kind of improved it. The horn thing is good.“ The “lllllloco-motion mix” is significantly longer than the single – I think about double in length – and seems to have even more horns plus what I think are tubular bells (well, bells at least). The B-side has two tracks, “She’s Cuckoo” and “Something Blue,” a lush lament that is perfectly and gothically sorrowful.
David Bowie “Tonight” released 35 years ago today, September 24th, 1984. (There are a few different dates given for this release, including September 1st and 29th but the website bowiebible.com cites the 24th and who am I to argue with a bible?) Tonight was Bowie’s 16th studio LP; it went to #1 in the UK and #11 in the US, mostly on the heels of success from Let’s Dance and his Serious Moonlight tour because Tonight is not one of his better albums. It has been much maligned over the years by critics and even Bowie himself admitted it was far from his best. He only wrote two new tracks for the LP: “Loving the Alien” and the single “Blue Jean” which hit #6 in the UK and #8 in the US. (I actually really love that song – fond ‘84 MTV memories and all that) The songs “Tumble and Twirl” and “Dancing With the Big Boys” were new Iggy Pop/Bowie collaborations. “Neighborhood Threat” was another Pop/Bowie (along with Ricky Gardiner) effort but it was originally recorded by Pop in 1977 for his Lust for Life LP and “Don’t Look Down” was a Pop cover (Iggy recorded it for his ‘79 New Values album). Also from Lust For Life on Tonight is Bowie’s version of the title track “Tonight,” a duet with Tina Turner. Bowie explained all of this to NME in September 1984 by saying, “I didn’t really [have] enough new things of my own because of the tour [Serious Moonlight]. I can’t write on tour, and there wasn’t really enough preparation afterwards to write anything that I felt was really worth putting down, and I didn’t want to put out things that ‘would do’ so there are two or three that I felt were good things to do and the other stuff…What I suppose I really wanted to do was to work with Iggy again, that’s something I’ve not done for a long time. And Iggy wanted us to do something together.” Bowie also covers the Beach Boys with “God Only Knows” (I really dislike that song and knowing it’s a Beach Boys cover doesn’t help) and the Lieber and Stoller song “I Keep Forgetting” originally released by Chuck Jackson. Overall Tonight is a fairly bland album: it has the big 80′s production polish but lacks the groove – supplied by Nile Rodgers on his previous smash LP Let’s Dance (Rodgers is quoted saying about Bowie’s decision to use producers Derek Bramble and Hugh Padgham rather than Rodgers that “Journalists would start asking David questions like ‘How much did Nile have to do with this?’ and this is very difficult for any artist, especially someone of David’s stature…It seemed to be a conscious effort to distance himself from me.”)
The Stooges “The Stooges” released 50 years ago today, August 5th, 1969. The Stooges’ debut album is, in retrospect, one of the best and most important records released during its era. At the time of its release it was criticized as dumb (well, yes, it is: the lyrics to “No Fun” and “Real Cool Time” should wipe away any doubt about that), musically simple (“stripped-down” is the polite term I think), brutally loud (nothing wrong with that) but it helped usher in punk a few years later as a widespread musical and cultural movement. The Stooges sold moderately well, hitting #106 on the US charts, with two released singles: “1969” and “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” I don’t think either charted but the former has been recognized as one of the greatest guitar songs ever and the latter is one of my personal all-time favorite tracks and many mainstream music publications agree, listing it as one of the best rock songs ever made – iy id certainly the best non-holiday song to feature sleigh bells (played by John Cale, who also plays viola on the epic dirge “We Will Fall” and mixed the first iteration of the album but Elektra rejected his mix and Iggy Pop and Elektra exec Jac Holzman mixed the final release).
Iggy Pop “TV Eye” 1978. Recorded live in March ‘77 (Cleveland and Chicago) and October ‘77 (Kansas City). Iggy’s backing band included David Bowie on keyboards for the March shows (with Ricky Gardiner on guitar, and the Sales brothers – Tony and Hunt – on bass and drums; in October Scott Thurston took over the keys, Stacey Heydon the guitar). I’m currently reading a biography about Iggy Pop and also listening to an audiobook about David Bowie so I figured I’d kind of listen to them both simultaneously on this concert comp album (plus Bowie collaborated with Pop to write “Funtime,” “Lust for Life,” and “Nightclubbing”). It’s not a great record, to be honest. It’s kind of a mess, which is exactly what Pop was at this point in his career – he was pretty much broke and touring endlessly to pay the bills, high and/or drunk constantly and had managed to piss off just about everyone in his life. The Sales brothers prop up the mess with a relentless, crushing rhythm section and I suppose Bowie is in there somewhere but it’s pretty difficult to hear. One of my favorite Iggy songs, “Lust for Life,” is turned into a crazed cacophony, hyper-speed with harmonica (that’s Scott Thurston) and my favorite Stooges’ cuts, “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” starts off with its typical deep menace but the mix is tinny and when Iggy sings “Now I’m ready to close my eyes, And now I’m ready to close my mind” it sounds like might actually do just that. The cuts were pulled from the soundboard tapes and all expense was spared to mix the album – Iggy threw it together to fulfill his record contract with RCA and earn some quick cash with the record company advance.
Iggy and the Stooges “Open Up and Bleed!” 1973/1995. Bomp! Records, The Iguana Chronicles series. From the liner notes written by Frank Meyer (Stooges historian), “This shiny, shimmering disk is a collection of material written after the monumental Raw Power LP, but never officially released.” The subtitle, “The Great Lost Stooges Album?” refers to the possibility that the tracks that appear on Open Up and Bleed! could have released on a studio LP if the band hadn’t disintegrated; it certainly doesn’t refer to the sound quality on the album which is rough (but fitting for the band’s hard protopunk vibe). The Stooges recorded several of these songs at rehearsal sessions in New York at CBS Studios, the last with keyboardist Bob Sheff, including “Rubber Legs,” “Open Up and Bleed,” “Johanna,” “Cock In My Pocket” (I’m sure that one would have been destined for a hit single, hahaha, though it is really good – rockin’ rhythm and blues with Bill Haley-style piano), “Head On” and “Cry For Me.” “Rich Bitch” and “Wet My Bed,” a “Chuck Berry-inspired ran about the joys of masturbation and urine distribution” (Meyer, liner notes), were recorded at the Latin Casino in Baltimore by an audience member. The last track on the album (a few more songs appear on the CD version) is “She Creatures of the Hollywood Hills.” It’s the only known rehearsal version of the track, recorded in Detroit.
The Stooges “1969″ 1969/2009 reissue for Record Store Day, b/w “Real Cool Time.” The Stooges released the original proto-punk single in ‘69, the lead song on the band’s debut album The Stooges. (They also released “I Wanna Be Your Dog” as a single from the LP, one of my favorite Stooges songs ever.) The album, and “1969,” was produced by John Cale (though the final mix of the album was not Cale’s but Iggy Pop’s and Jac Holzman’s). The song is brutal, frustrated and distorted…and timeless 50 years later. It’s been covered by many others over the years including Sisters of Mercy, Pretenders, Joey Ramone, The Mission and U.K. Subs. The B-side, “Real Cool Time,” was kind of an album afterthought; The Stooges originally only had five tracks for The Stooges when they entered the studio to record. Told that wasn’t enough, they whipped out three more (”Real Cool Time,” “Not Right” and “Little Doll”) and played them for the very first time at the studio. Like “1969,” “Real Cool time” is snarling and distorted with not overly complicated lyrics (“Can I come over tonight? I say we will have a real cool time tonight” and that’s about it).
Iggy and the Stooges “Johanna” b/w “Purple Haze” 1975/1988 Revenge Records, limited release (2000 copies) on green vinyl. “Johanna” was recorded in 1975 by Iggy Pop and James Williamson and then appeared on their 1977 album Kill City on Bomp! records, however the Stooges frequently performed “Johanna” in ‘73 and ‘74 before the band broke up. From Allmusic: “Interestingly, “Johanna” was a leftover Stooges song, which can be heard in bootleg releases of the band’s record company-rejected demos. The Stooges had been playing a heavy and sleazy version of blues-rock, influenced by the trashy sounds of mid-‘60s garage bands, as well as the Doors, neighbors the MC5, and some British blues acts. Like early Aerosmith, they at times resembled a more raw and less nuanced version of the Rolling Stones. Both the Stooges’ demo version and the Kill City recording of “Johanna” demonstrate Pop’s reverence for the Stones, in his almost cartoonishly exaggerated aping of Mick Jagger’s vocal idiosyncrasies and soul stylings. On the Stooges version, Pop sounds a little less musical, more talk-singing over a typically unsubtle Stooges heavy driving riff. The Kill City version finds a more finessed vocal delivery over a grooving R&B-type arrangement, complete with saxophone by John Hardin. [The version on this 7″ is the Kill City version]…Pop is the romantic on “Johanna,” not the sleazy street hustler who wants to be your dog. He explores the conflicts of a hot-and-cold relationship: “I’ve been a bitch and I know it too/Johanna/I hate to say it but I’m coming home to you.” The newly clean and sober Pop seems here to have found a new addiction. The Kill City arrangement, though not as aggressive as the Stooges version, is no less passionate.”
I’m a bit less clear on the background of their cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze.” It only appears on posthumous Stooges anthologies and the 7″ liner notes simply state that Iggy is on vocals and Williamson plays lead guitar so it’s probably also from the Kill City sessions. It’s super-muddy, fuzzy and raw with Pop’s vocals kinda faded through a dark echo chamber.