The Idiot is an album that must be heard. It features two of the most influential artists of the 70’s, Iggy Pop and David Bowie, working together at the peak of their powers. They had both undergone personal struggles in the few years leading up to ’77, from drug addictions to disintegrating relationships with friends and loved ones, such as Bowie’s ex-wife Angie. As a result, the music they recorded for this album and the others they released in 1977 is dark, personal, and is essential in the early makings of punk and industrial music.
Iggy Pop had been with The Stooges in the early 70’s, making The Idiot his first solo album. Stepping out into the world he was in good hands, having friend Bowie produce and co-write the album with him. Bowie explored what he wanted to do with sound on the record, and mixed in with Pop’s personality they created a nightmarish world in the studio. Listen to the haunting opening track ‘Sister Midnight’, a song partially about Pop being afraid of his own dreams. Much of the album becomes exactly about this, the thoughts we have in our subconscious that we do not want to see the light of day, but here they are boldly being faced.
The album has some songs that have become classics in their own rights. The fifth track ‘China Girl’ was to become a huge pop hit in 1983 when later re-recorded by Bowie. But Pop’s version will always reign supreme- it is raw, intense, and at times scary, especially at the halfway point when he screams “It’s in the white of my eyes!” He is called the Godfather of Punk for a reason. Also of note is the excellent ‘Nightclubbing’, the intro of which was sampled in Nine Inch Nails’ most popular song ‘Closer’ in 1994. It is about stalking the city night streets, a ghost of what you once were.
Between the ghoulish lyrics and the innovating industrial sounds, The Idiot is a fascinating listen that still sounds as fresh as it did in March 1977.